A pair of D.C. United veterans will leave the club after tomorrow's game against the New York Red Bulls for international duty. Alvaro Saborio has been called up by Costa Rica, while Markus Halsti will join the Finnish national team for European Championship qualifying.
Saborio won't have to travel far at first as the Ticos are playing Brazil on September 5th at Red Bull Arena. The squad will then go to Costa Rica for a second friendly against Uruguay on the 8th. The high-profile opponents likely reflect Costa Rica's improved profile after their performance in last year's World Cup.
Halsti is facing some rather less well-known teams, but the games are far more important. Finland will play Greece in Athens on September 4th before hosting the Faroe Islands three days later in Helsinki. Finland's chances of gaining even a playoff spot are slim - they're 7 points behind Hungary in Group F - but the Greeks and Faroes are the other two sides in the bottom half of the group. With two wins in the coming week Finland would put some real pressure on the Hungarians, who host 1st place Romania on the 4th before a trip to 2nd place Northern Ireland on the 7th.
The games come at a good time. United does not play next weekend or in the middle of the following week, so both players should be back for a few days of training before the Black-and-Red travel out to play the Colorado Rapids on September 12th.