- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 12, 2006

D.C. United, which boasts a 12-game unbeaten streak, will go outside MLS in pursuit of competition tonight.

United will play Scottish Premier League champion Celtic FC in a friendly at 7:30 p.m. at RFK Stadium.

United (12-1-5) has the best record in MLS and leads the league in goals.. It now has a chance to test its skills against one of Europe’s best teams.

“It is very important to us to go out and represent our league and ourselves well,” said defender Bobby Boswell, who scored United’s only goal in last year’s 2-1 loss to Chelsea FC at FedEx Field. “We look forward to a game like this because these are teams you have heard about and watched on TV all the time. An opportunity to play against them and measure yourself against a team like this to see where you stand is a great bonus.”

Although United fell in a match billed as “Clash of Champions” last year, it has an all-time record of 21-9-5 against international competition.

Celtic FC boasts a roster full of international players. Goalie Artur Boruc and attacker Maciej Zurawski both played for Poland in the World Cup. Midfielder Shunsuke Nakamura represented Japan.

Aside from its talented roster, Celtic FC has a rich tradition dating back to the team’s founding in 1888. It has won 40 Scottish League championships and 33 Scottish Cup titles. Located in Glasgow, Celtic competes in a stadium that can hold more than 60,000 fans. That stadium is called Celtic Park, but fans of the team refer to it as “paradise.”

Celtic FC will make three U.S. stops this month, including a match against the New England Revolution next week.

Tonight’s friendly falls in the middle of a hectic MLS schedule, which means United coach Peter Nowak likely will rest some of his starters.

“International games are always important in the development of players,” Nowak said. “Whoever we are going to play and whatever lineup we play doesn’t really matter. I think everyone will have a chance to play against them.”

United’s leading scorer, Jaime Moreno, said he and his teammates are looking forward to a day of rest.

Midfielder Freddy Adu, however, said he welcomes the opportunity to showcase his skills against an international team, even if the game falls between two league games.

No matter who plays, these international friendlies are primarily for the fans, and United’s fans will have plenty of competition from Celtic’s American fans. The green and white are represented by fan clubs in 51 U.S. cities, including chapters in the District and Alexandria.

“It’s a nice mental break,” said United goalie Troy Perkins, who leads the league with seven shutouts. “You get to have a little bit of fun and show off for the fans. A game like this you always have energy for.”

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