Welcome to Friday Freedom Kicks.
Preview | NY Red Bulls v. United | D.C. United: Here's DCU's preview of the big match, which we'll be playing without Luciano Acosta. It would have been fun to watch his footwork frazzle Dax McCarty.
September the Eleventh | First Touch: This weekend's game between D.C. and New York takes place on the 15th anniversary of 9/11. Apropos of what many commenters have argued - why have this anthem singing at the start of every sports game anyway? - this piece laments the way the 9/11 anniversary gets ritualistically appropriated by sports franchises and suggests that we should just not hold games on the date at all.
Which clubs are set up for MLS Cup playoffs, who's staring into the abyss? | ESPN FC: We're living on the edge.
Red Line Report: Can Bradley Wright-Phillips lead Red Bulls to trophies? | MLSsoccer.com: D.C. United has the second most difficult remaining schedule in the East, and we're below the red line at the moment.
Want to watch soccer this weekend? TV, live streams for 75 matches | Washington Post: The only t.v. guide you need.
Donovan returns to Galaxy as MLS playoffs loom | World Soccer Talk: Some people say Donovan should stay retired, to give younger players a chance to play and shine. He should coach, focus on youth development, whatever. Bruce Arena says, I just lost Zardes and de Jong, so will you please come back? Donovan says, ok. MLS is all, ka-ching!
Spirit owner Bill Lynch's statement on Rapinoe's comments | Black And Red United: This is just the latest of B&RU's own Caitlin Buckley's excellent pieces on the Rapinoe-Spirit row.
Megan Rapinoe Lends Much-Needed Female Voice to Race Debate | ABC News: This column compares U.S. Soccer's termination of Hope Solo for calling the Swedish team "cowards" to yesterday's USWNT call-up of Megan Rapinoe, a half day after her planned kneel during the anthem and her calling the Spirit's owner "homophobic" for thwarting the kneel. Both cases involve speech that some find offensive even if some of the offended agree with the sentiment behind the speech itself. Of course, what's at stake with each of them is very different: free-wheeling soccer analysis versus justice for all.
Megan Rapinoe risks hypocrisy with plans to play for the national team but not stand for the U.S. | Sporting News: So this is an interesting situation. Will she also kneel during the Thai national anthem? We stand for other countries' anthems as a sign of respect. Hope Solo didn't show respect when she called the Swedes cowards and was therefore booted from the team. So maybe Rapinoe should stand, except Thailand recently banned political gatherings of more than 5 persons, so, by one measure (and probably many more), it's odd to give its anthem more respect than the U.S. anthem. If more than 5 of the Thai players knelt, they'd be arrested and sent to military courts for having engaged in a peaceful public gathering involving political issues. So maybe Rapinoe should kneel during the Thai anthem to show solidarity with those who cannot kneel without risking arrest? But then what does U.S. Soccer do to Rapinoe? Boot her for disrespecting the Thais like Solo disrespected the Swedes, even though it wouldn't have booted her for disrespecting the U.S. anthem? How does that look for a sport that's trying to prove it can be as 'murcan as apple pie and is not some foreign invader, having only recently captured a large domestic audience thanks to otherwise non-soccer fans patriotically (and drunkenly) rooting for the U.S. in international matches? And how do sponsors react to whatever U.S. Soccer decides, if enough people are offended? Think about it. Think-think about it.
It's time to accept that politics and soccer will inevitably mix | Stars and Stripes FC: The reason why I like Barcelona.
Commentariat, take exception!