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NWSL TV deal, MLS preseason, and D.C. United talking points: Freedom Kicks for February 3, 2017

DCU interviews, Becky Sauerbrunn standing for what’s right, and a whole lot more

I had forgotten to put this together as of 10pm last night, and now I’m sitting here with a Freedom Kicks that could last you fine folks through the entire weekend. I get by with a little help from my friends (which is to say a bunch of good folks sent me links when I asked).

1-on-1 with Ian Harkes: Writing the next chapter of a family legacy | The Score
I get the feeling we’re going to be seeing a lot of Ian Harkes interviews this year.

EP 031: Dave Johnson, Washington Wizards & DC United | Say the Damn Score
Longtime D.C. United announcer Dave Johnson covers a lot of ground here, including the Black-and-Red, the World Cup, and the Washington Wizards.

Becky Sauerbrunn calls Muslim ban “un-American” | Stars and Stripes FC
Our friends at SSFC landed an exclusive comment from USWNT captain Becky Sauerbrunn, and I couldn’t agree more with what she has to say. Also, I’d like to point out that she will be eligible to be elected president in 2020.

How A+E Networks will transform the NWSL | Excelle Sports
As you hopefully read, yesterday came with some big news for the NWSL. Here, Meg Lineham got more details from league commissioner Jeff Plush.

Big wishes for the NWSL’s fifth season | Sounder at Heart
Ahead of the big announcement, our friends at S@H talked about what they’d like to see improve in year 5 of the NWSL.

Labbe, Chapman ready to get back on Canadian soil | Equalizer Soccer
Here, Washington Spirit GK Stephanie Labbe preferred not to answer when asked why she opted to return to the club after being strongly linked with a departure. In any case, she seems happy to be back in competitive action after being stuck on the bench after the Olympics.

Gulati: Rampone retired from USWNT, will return to Sky Blue FC for 2017 | Once a Metro
Christie Rampone may not be playing for the USWNT any more - they’ll honor her next month, most likely on March 4th’s SheBelieves Cup match at Red Bull Arena - but I feel like she’ll keep playing for roughly 1,000 years because she’s an indestructible superhuman.

Pinto confirma la presencia de Najar para juegos eliminatorios de marzo |
Honduras head coach Jorge Luis Pinto says here that Andy Najar, who is dealing with a knock right now, will be available for March’s World Cup qualifiers. That’s good news for Najar, and bad news for the USMNT.

New York City FC dismantles Jacksonville University 9-0 in first scrimmage | Hudson River Blue
Much like United against the under-17 national team a couple days ago, NYCFC tore non-professional opposition apart in their first preseason match. Among the goalscorers: former United defender Ethan White.

Vancouver Whitecaps End Pre-Season with 4-0 Victory over Bristol City FC U23’s | Eighty Six Forever
Kekuta Manneh may be the #10 for the Vancouver Whitecaps this season. He put up 3 assists in this game, while 16 year old winger Alphonso Davies scored twice.

Fafà Picault signs with the Philadelphia Union | The Brotherly Game
This one’s been rumored for a while. Once-capped Fafa Picault will join a Philadelphia Union side that maybe doesn’t need another winger. Chris Pontius, Fabian Herbers and Ilsinho are already in place, along with youngster Eric Ayuk. That leaves out multiple draft picks who are primarily wide men, and versatile players like CJ Sapong, Alejandro Bedoya, and Roland Alberg.

On the other hand, Alberg has been linked with a departure (though he also just claimed the vacant #10 shirt), and maybe the Union are planning to trade a winger or two elsewhere in pursuit of a real solution at center back. We’ll see.

OFFICIAL: Atlanta United sign Josef Martinez as third Designated Player | Dirty South Soccer
This move strikes me as being quite similar. A team with Miguel Almiron, Hector Villalba, Yamil Asad, and Kenwyne Jones (not to mention veteran Jacob Peterson, 1st round draft pick Julian Gressel, and US youth internationals Brandon Vazquez and Andrew Carleton probably doesn’t need to sign a DP winger/forward. This is particularly worth nothing when you take a look at a defensive midfield, back four, and goalkeeping corps that looks better in reputation than in reality.

But hey, at least their games won’t be boring.

A theme song for your team's offseason |
Arielle Castillo picked songs for every MLS team, and for United went with one of DC’s indigenous styles of music. I can’t complain about that one bit, and in fact the whole list is pretty great. Hendrix, my favorite Grimes song, Lord Tariq & Peter Gunz (!)...really everything except for Drake. Toronto, your most popular musician is unflavored ice milk.

RSL set to land Lennon from Liverpool, Analyzing Van Damme deal |
Sam Stejskal has been getting great details for these weekly pieces, and I highly recommend the Jelle Van Damme section on how signing him as a DP now allows for using less TAM to buy him down in the summer and add another DP.

There’s also a segment on Sean Franklin and United, but I think we’re still spending too much time talking about a preseason experiment/attempt to make sure Franklin can be the club’s fifth-best center back if there’s an injury crisis. Now, if Bobby Boswell isn’t starting towards the end of the preseason (when the starters tend to get 60+ minutes as a matter of course), I’ll be more intrigued.

Cameroon beat Ghana to reach AFCON final | BBC Sport
Two late goals saw the Indomitable Lions (featuring Montreal’s Ambroise Oyongo) upset Ghana’s Black Stars (whose roster included Columbus duo Harrison Afful and Jonathan Mensah). Cameroon will play Egypt in the final on Sunday.

Guinness to open brewery in Baltimore County | Baltimore Sun

Seriously though, this location is maybe even within walking distance (a long walk, but still) to a friend’s house.

RTD meteorologist gets the scoop on spring from Maymont goats |
Let’s close with a nod to Adam Taylor, B&RU’s #1 goat devotee. I am a known antagonist to the Commonwealth, but this is a better idea than groundhogs.