Have we ever seen a greater confluence of soccer news? We had a slate of MLS games over the weekend, we have a new UEFA Champions League champion (OK, they are not particularly new, but they are the new holders!), we have started the World Cup finals which will see the women's world champions named, we saw a remarkable comeback by the senior male Yanks in the land of the orange, we have important youth tournaments ongoing, and we have more news on FIFA corruption (and by FIFA, I mean the headquarters staff and its constituent confederations). Let's get to it.
D.C. United lost to Toronto FC on Saturday night. Despite the absence of Michael Bradley and only a cameo appearance by Jozy Altidore, the Black-and-Red were unable to vanquish the Reds due to the singular brilliance of Sebastian Giovinco. We have a game recap here, and Waking the Red has theirs here. We'll also have more later today on the game as well. I have to say, although he doesn't play for United, the "atomic ant" is a joy to watch. He's a game-changer, and he's a league-elevator. Check out his pregame practice video to get an insider's look at how he developed his unique talents.
Why did Barcelona win the Champions League? Because their manager has good shoes | Michael Hann | Football | The Guardian
Well, maybe nice shoes weren't the only reason they won, but certainly having Messi, Neymar, and Suarez on their frontline might have helped. Nice to see Barcelona parlayed their three DPs into a nice little trophy. Also, there's a lesson about patience here. Finally, a salute from all of us here at B&RU to Xavi. Well done, Captain.
What is the USWNT's path to win the Women's World Cup? - Stars and Stripes FC
I love the World Cup, so it was great to catch the opening action over the weekend (well, 10-0 wasn't so great). But, the real fun begins today when the Americans take on the Australians. We'll have more to say during the day on this game and the other three matches. Also, if you haven't seen this statistical preview from FiveThirtyEight, go check it out. BTW, what do you think about the Fox Sports coverage so far? I think the studio coverage from Vancouver is terrific, while the play-by-play of the matches is still evolving and needs some more games before I render an opinion.
ASN article: United States Defeats Dutch, 4-3, in Crazy Friendly
Winning a friendly doesn't mean much, but it sure is awesome to go on the road and beat the best-national-team-to-never-win-a-world-cup in a wild comeback. The Men's World Cup holders are next for the good guys this Wednesday, June 10th.
Kovalenko hat trick sinks US U-20s; Group C runner-up is next | ProSoccerTalk
The US U-20 side dropped their final group-stage game, but advanced to the knockout stage nonetheless. Next up, Colombia, also on Wednesday, June 10th (but very, very, I-mean-ridiculously early on the 10th).
USA U-23's beat England, finish third at Toulon Tournament - Stars and Stripes FC
Yay for us! We beat England by scoring two penalty kicks at a prestigious tournament. But, how many countries haven't beaten England on penalties?!? Oh, and apparently this Jordan Morris guy is legit.
Email links FIFA Sepp Blatter to $10m payment - report - ESPN FC
The FIFA corruption scandal is at a point in which every new revelation sounds like we've already heard it. Seriously, is anyone surprised a South African newspaper is claiming to have seen a 2007 email showing FIFA President Sepp Blatter and then-South African President Thabo Mbeki both knew about the $10M "contribution" from the South African FA to CONCACAF? Is this news?
Detailed look at Hope Solo's domestic violence case includes reports of her being belligerent in jail
We would be committing Freedom Kicks malpractice if we failed to include this ESPN long-form article on the allegations of domestic violence involving Hope Solo. As a culture, we've decided stories of domestic violence and athletes are significant public news, and I agree this is a well-reported story worth telling. But, I do not like the timing of this piece. I get why they released it now, but I don't like it.
Finally, here's a pro tip while you gather around the coffee pot with your co-workers this morning. The first topic below will likely come up, and you will be forearmed knowing Domenico Scala is the chairman of FIFA's audit and compliance committee. The second topic will amaze and astound your friends when you let them know the Indonesian Messi, one Andik Vermansyah formerly of D.C. United, and the entire Indonesian national team have been banned from international soccer effective immediately, including the 2018 World Cup:
FIFA exec: Russia, Qatar will lose World Cup if bribery evidence found | ProSoccerTalk
Easy to think about in theory, but very hard to envision Russia losing the 2018 Men's World Cup in actuality.
Indonesia excluded from 2018 World Cup qualifiers | Reuters
One word: irony.
I'm sure we missed a lot of other good soccer content in the midst of the flood of news over the weekend, so use the comments section to bring us the rest.