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Porter steps down from Timbers post, RSL joins NWSL, and more: Freedom Kicks for 11/17/2017

It was a wild day, which your faithful author can start to think about once he gets over all the Ls he’s taken this year

Last night, the final hope I had for soccer in 2017 met a very 2017 end, as Maryland was eliminated on penalties in College Park. I’d like to point out that early on the night of October 9th, 2016, the Washington Spirit were one clearance away from a title. They couldn’t clear, and lost on PKs while having three original Spirit players miss their shots.

Since then, I’ve seen a red-hot D.C. United thoroughly vanquished at home in the playoffs, followed by #1 seed Maryland going from 4-1 up in the 70th minute at home to 5-4 losers (in regulation!!!) to end their season, endured the end-to-end miseries of both D.C. United and the Spirit this year, covered the USWNT’s only ever loss at RFK, watched the USMNT fail to qualify for a World Cup for the first time since 1986, watched Maryland’s 29 game regular season unbeaten come to an end via a late goal from Georgetown, and now this.

My record for my teams in person, in a set that is almost exclusively home games, was 8W-7D-16L. I am King Midas, but with defeat instead of gold.

Anyway let’s talk about something else:

Rose City shock: Caleb Porter out as Portland Timbers head coach | FourFourTwo USA
Paul Tenorio dropped the huge news late last night. Caleb Porter is done as the Portland Timbers boss, with conflicting reports over a power struggle and/or him just opting to move on. To what, you ask? No idea, but it could be a whole lot of things. The USMNT and LA Galaxy jobs were mentioned a lot, but I think we’re undervaluing Random Scandinavian Team.

Caleb Porter out as Portland Timbers head coach | The Oregonian
More on a story that broke around 11pm last night.

Brief Audi Field interlude:

North Carolina FC joins United Soccer League (USL) |
In a move everyone has known was coming for a long time, North Carolina FC confirmed that they’re leaving the NASL for the USL effective immediately. Given that NCFC’s aims are to eventually join MLS, and that stadium situations have cleared up for some other prominent expansion bids, I have to wonder what happens if MLS’s next wave of expansion picks leaves North Carolina out.

NWSL heads to Rio Tinto: Real Salt Lake enters the league for 2018 |
In what appears to be a hastily organized move (RSL owner Dell Loy Hansen admitted this came together in about half a month), Real Salt Lake will own an NWSL club. All signs point to that club being a relocated FC Kansas City, but no one from RSL or the NWSL will actually say that just yet due to a rather muddy ownership situation with FCKC.

In any case, RSL talked a very good game, but has a ton of work to do in a very small amount of time. Also, pour one out for the Blue Crew, one of the NWSL’s rowdiest supporters groups. These are tough times as far as club stability goes.

Real Salt Lake’s NWSL team will start play in 2018 | RSL Soapbox
For more on that good game talking, here are all the important quotes from the press conference held in Utah yesterday. One issue that hasn’t been settled: whether FCKC is truly just being relocated, or if they’re being folded and their players will be dispersed, while the new RSL team starts from scratch. The former makes far more sense, but American soccer is weird.

Irreconcilable? Meeting with MLS finds no common ground between Columbus, Crew | FourFourTwo USA
Going back to tough times and club stability, a meeting between the major players in the Columbus Crew relocation saga did not go well for the #SaveTheCrew side of things. Of course, you may not be all that surprised that the same group behind an expansion end-around that MLS is insane to support, as well as an obvious astroturf campaign in favor of the move, would show up and be uninterested in letting these talks change their actions.

2017 Player Reviews: Micheal Azira | Burgundy Wave
Normally I would not be linking player season reviews for guys that United has no reason to pursue, but the data in here on defensive midfielders across MLS is fascinating and really worth your time. If you ever wondered why Marcelo Sarvas was still getting starts in October, the numbers here (and here) might give you a hint.

Here are the 32 teams that qualified for the 2018 World Cup | SB Nation
After 981 days, all qualification for Russia 2018 finally wrapped up as Peru saw off New Zealand. Here’s how the draw will work, what the pots are, and a general overview of what’s going to happen on December 1st.

CONCACAF League of Nations Confirmed |
This is good news for most of CONCACAF’s members, but really bad news for the top teams in the region. However, once UEFA decided to do their own League of Nations and continue their grand plan of ensuring that players never ever rest and that fans can never ever take some time off, this was inevitable.

Maryland men’s soccer ends season with penalty-kick NCAA Tournament loss to Albany | Testudo Times
It is fitting that in this hellish year of soccer results for teams I like, there was one last kick in the teeth. Maryland dominated most of the game without ever creating enough real chances to make it count, with their best looks either crosses that went untouched or a couple of 20+ yard shots that were a couple of inches from going in.

From a D.C. United perspective, Eryk Williamson was at the center of nearly everything the Terps did well, though he appeared to run out of gas around the 80th minute. He did still convert his PK. United should still be doing whatever they can to sign him.

As for the rest of the DMV, it was a mixed bag. Steven Streff’s Virginia Tech Hokies advanced past Air Force without much trouble, while Ben Bromley’s William & Mary Tribe fell to Columbia via an overtime golden goal. Old Dominion, a team with no links to anyone on staff that I know about, advanced past NC State.

That cuts the region’s representatives down to five. Here are their upcoming games (home teams listed first, all games on Sunday 11/19):

#11 Virginia vs. Fordham - 5pm
#14 Georgetown vs. Southern Methodist - 1pm
#16 Virginia Commonwealth vs. Butler - 5pm
#7 Michigan State vs. Virginia Tech - 1pm
#2 Indiana vs. Old Dominion - 1pm

Alright, this is plenty long enough. Find some time to enjoy a warm drink without anything particularly pressing to do this weekend.