While the majority of MLS players take a small break to allow for national play, a trio of D.C. United players will represent their countries in 2014 World Cup qualification matches -- two for Canada and striker Hamdi Salihi for Albania.
It's no surprise that Dwayne De Rosario will represent Canada, as the attacking midfielder is the nation's all-time leading goal-scorer and fourth in caps. De Rosario, along with Dejan Jakovic, will play in a pair of CONCACAF third-round matches against Panama, first on Sept. 7, 2012, in Toronto and then on Sept. 11 in Panama City.
It's a crucial set of matches for Canada, as the Panamanians currently sit atop Group C with six points after a pair of wins against Cuba and Honduras, while Canada only has four points following a win over Cuba and a draw with Honduras. A win in either match would go a long way toward ensuring that the Canadians advance into the fourth and final round of qualifications, where they would most likely have to face off against the United States and Mexico, among others, for a chance to go to Brazil.
Meanwhile, in Europe, Salihi will represent his homeland of Albania in their first two UEFA World Cup qualification matches. D.C. United's designated player, who is second on the MLS side with five goals, has scored nine career goals for Albania. The Albanians will play Cyprus at home on Sep. 7, then travel to Lucerne for a matchup against the Swiss on Sept. 11. The Albanians are somewhat lucky, as the top team in their group of six is Norway, which isn't exactly a perennial powerhouse. Finishing on top of their group means advancement for the Albanians, while second place would put them in a playoff.
The United States hasn't announced its team for their upcoming qualifying matches, but D.C. doesn't have any potential call-ups. The last time a player on United's current roster was called up was when goalkeeper Bill Hamid was on the roster for a friendly in January against Venezuela, but he's far from the top option for the U.S. at keeper.
The trio of players won't miss any MLS games, as the team is off from Sep. 1 to Sep. 15.