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Chris Rolfe retires, USWNT vs. Canada, 2018 World Cup qualifiers, and more: Freedom Kicks for 11/10/2017

A statue for Christian Gomez, and a tale of incredible 90s nerdery

Colder weather, after being locked out for several weeks, has kicked in our door and is throwing snowballs at us. It’s time for hearty meals and high gravity beer, and for me it means it’s time for some sort of major computer problem. Third year running! I want everyone to know that I’m steadfastly blaming the machines and not at all reconsidering my own actions.

Let’s start with D.C. United, who despite being in the most uneventful part of the offseason ended up having a busy day yesterday:

Chris Rolfe posted this retirement message, which we elaborated on a few minutes later. It’s a damn shame that Rolfe’s concussion symptoms persist to this day, and United has missed his invention, skill, and commitment. I have to admit that part of me was ill at ease when he signed, given the number of times he had burned the Black-and-Red as a Chicago Fire player and the fact that he was not a starter there at the time. It’s safe to say Rolfe conclusively won me over both with his play and his character.

‘I am at peace with it’: D.C. United’s Chris Rolfe retires 18 months after concussion | Washington Post
Steve Goff has a must-read interview with Rolfe, who details that last month’s Legends Game festivities, and watching the final game at RFK Stadium, really helped him close the door on his career.

Some of us don’t get lucky and have to hang up the boots earlier than we wanted to. Then there’s Christian Gomez, who is still playing 2nd division soccer in Argentina at 43 years old. That fact brings me more than a little joy, and apparently at Nueva Chicago (his club both before and after his time with United) they feel the same way.

Dynamo's Joe Willis takes advantage of starting opportunity | Houston Chronicle
More United alumni updates!

Meanwhile, pretty much nothing on earth happens without our Donald Wine II being a part of it. I’m serious.

United States escapes Canada with 1-1 tie | Stars and Stripes FC
Canada probably deserved to last night, as the home side’s high pressure troubled the USWNT to no end. Jill Ellis probably needs to make some adjustments and coach her team up, because last night only one team seemed prepared. On the Washington Spirit front, Stephanie Labbe and Shelina Zadorsky went the full 90, while Lindsay Agnew did not sub in. Mallory Pugh is still injured after the last US camp and was not called in.

Get to know Vlatko Andonovski, new Seattle Reign head coach | Sounder at Heart
The biggest move of the NWSL offseason so far is the Seattle Reign, having lost Laura Harvey to the US set-up, bringing in Andonovski to replace her.

Sporting KC center back Ike Opara named 2017 MLS Defender of the Year |
This was a slam dunk. Opara was the key to one of the best defenses MLS has ever seen.

The Howler survey of candidates for president of the US Soccer Federation | Howler
Some of the most in-depth answers any USSF candidates have given here.

That “grassroots” MLS2ATX account that everyone thought was astroturf turned out to be astroturf:

Croatia closes in on World Cup qualification with 4-1 win over Greece | SB Nation
World Cup qualifying (remember that?) is not quite done yet. Croatia took advantage of their first leg at home by trouncing Greece.

Switzerland dominates Northern Ireland to earn 1-0 World Cup qualifying playoff win | SB Nation
Northern Ireland did not follow the example set by the Croats, struggling to get much of the ball en route to a home loss that apparently could have been worse.

Today’s crucial games (all times Eastern):

South Africa vs. Senegal (CAF Group D; originally played 11/12/2016, but the result was annulled due to the match fixing of original referee Joseph Lamptey) - 12pm
Sweden vs. Italy (UEFA playoff) - 2:45pm
Honduras vs. Australia (CONCACAF/AFC playoff first leg) - 5pm
New Zealand vs. Peru (OFC/CONMEBOL playoff first leg, which will unbelievably be a Geiger Show and I am not making that up) - 10:15pm

Tomorrow, there are more huge clashes: Ivory Coast vs. Morocco is essentially a one-game playoff, Tunisia will qualify if they avoid defeat against Libya (or if DR Congo fails to beat Guinea), and Denmark hosts the Republic of Ireland in the final UEFA first leg.

Introducing the Recurrently Generated Football League | Cartilage Free Captain
Let’s close out with the kind of bizarre project that speaks to me, a person who once took every team in FIFA 98 (which included every country that entered qualifying plus a bunch of club sides), ordered them by the game’s rating system, and created a 256 team bracket that also had a play-in round for the worst teams. When you’re an only child, you either get inventive and weird, or you get bored. In the end, Real Madrid defeated Chelsea in the best-of-seven final series, because of course it was an even more extensive final than was necessary.

Anyway, my English team is now Ixborough Borough Town.

And on that strange note, enjoy your weekend! If you need to stay warm, I recommend trying a hot toddy (Twinings Lemon and Ginger Tea + honey + bourbon works really well). What are your “it’s too damn cold and I’m not happy about it” comfort food/drinks?