Pontius joins National Team’s training squad

Former UCSB soccer player Chris Pontius was named to the U.S. National Team’s 30-man training camp roster by head coach Bob Bradley. The camp begins today at U.S. Soccer’s National Training Center at The Home Depot Center in Carson.

Former UCSB star Chris Pontius has made a name for himself with MLS' DC United

Former UCSB star Chris Pontius has made a name for himself with MLS' DC United since his departure from Goleta.

The 30 players will prepare for the USA’s first match of 2010, a friendly against fellow FIFA World Cup finalists Honduras on Jan. 23 at The Home Depot Center. The match will broadcast live on Fox Soccer Channel and Galavision beginning at 6 p.m.

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“This is the start of six months of preparations for the World Cup, and it is important that we get started off heading in the right direction,” said Bradley, who led the U.S. to first place in the CONCACAF qualifying. “We have had the chance to work with many of these players through their time with the national team, while others performed well for their clubs throughout last season and have earned this opportunity. We are continuing to evaluate the player pool as we move towards finalizing our roster for this summer.”

The annual camp held in January for players in their offseason is a largely domestic-based group that includes 25 players who ply their trade in the United States. Major League Soccer is well represented, with 13 of 16 clubs contributing players to the Carson camp.

Pontius, who plays for D.C. United, just completed his first season in the MLS and was a Rookie of the Year finalist. The Yorba Linda, Calif. native played for UCSB from 2005 to 2008.

Following the Honduras match, the United States will play third-ranked Netherlands on March 3 in Amsterdam, allowing the U.S. to face one of the top teams in the world prior to the start of the FIFA World Cup in South Africa.

The U.S. Men’s National has been drawn into Group C with England, Slovenia and Algeria for the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. The U.S. will open its sixth consecutive World Cup finals tournament against England on June 12 in Rustenburg and will follow that game with matches against Slovenia on June 18 in Johannesburg and Algeria on June 23 in Tshwane/Pretoria.

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