The big boys get a real scorer

Real Salt Lake midfielder Clint Mathis has been called into the U.S. men’s National Team training camp weeks before its Feb. 9 World Cup qualifier at Trinidad and Tobago.

Mathis is the first player for the expansion Real franchise to be invited to participate on the U.S. National Team. While his call-up does not automatically guarantee him a spot on the 18-man final roster, Mathis has performed well with the USMNT in the past, tallying 11 goals in 43 matches.

The camp is taking place at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., until Feb. 7. It is at that point that several players from European leagues, including midfield stalwart Landon Donovan and defensive anchor Cory Gibbs, may join the national team. Over the last several weeks, there were questions as to whether or not the US would be able to showcase their best players in the Feb. 9 game in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad.

A labor dispute between the U.S. Soccer Federation and the players’ association of the U.S. men’s National Team forced U.S. coach Bruce Arena to call up replacement players from the United Soccer Leagues at the start of training camp last week. The camp was originally slated to start on Feb. 3, and was to include two friendly matches with South Korea and Sweden. The start of camp was postponed until Jan. 20, and the matches canceled.

The players finally agreed last week, in principle, to not strike against the federation during the 10 upcoming WCQ matches, and so received an increase in pay per contest. The players, whose contract expired in 2002, still do not have a contract, according to The Associated Press.

The players will receive $2,750 per qualifier, up from $2,000 per match in 2002 and also will garner bonuses for wins in qualifying. The players will now receive as much as $6,000 for wins versus Mexico and Costa Rica and $4,750 versus the remaining four qualifiers in the final round, prior to the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany.

The camp will continue through Feb. 7, when the USMNT training ground moves to south Florida, and then to Trinidad on Feb. 8.

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The Associated Press contributed to this article.