There isn’t much in the way of D.C. United news to note (we have posts coming up today though!). MLSsoccer has listed Rob Vincent as out with a meniscus problem in their game preview, but the league injury page does not mention the issue. Probably a “where there’s smoke, there’s fire” situation, unfortunately.
That’s it for United though, so let’s talk about distantly related clubs:
Yup. Michael Essien playing for Persib Bandung, the club Erick Thohir owns in Indonesia. And before you wonder why United can’t get big names like that, let’s remember that Essien is 34 and was last playing in Greece, where Panathinaikos did everything but chase him out the door. This is not the star DP you’re looking for.
There’s not much news on the Washington Spirit front either, but there will be soon. 30.5 hours from when this posts, they’ll play their first preseason game against Penn State at the Soccerplex (but due to recent snow, they’ll play on turf rather than at the stadium).
In the meantime, the NWSL dropped a new hype ad centering on their TV deal:
Orlando City’s Battle with Hamstring Injuries Represents a Common Plight Across Sports | The Mane Land
Pretty smart article here from The Mane Land, who reached out to specialists to find out more about why hamstring strains (something exceedingly common for Orlando City since they joined MLS) happen.
Orlando City striker Carlos Rivas picks up muscle strain | Orlando Sentinel
It was also a timely article to write. Without Rivas and Kaka, Orlando’s attack is Cyle Larin and MLS roster fillers. That said, if you need a cheap one-week starter in MLS Fantasy, look for Hadji Barry to get the nod.
Five tactical systems Gregg Berhalter could implement | Massive Report
How are things going in Columbus? Well, here we are talking about abandoning the 4231 Gregg Berhalter has nearly exclusively played since taking over in Ohio. This kind of major change is probably not coming for this weekend, but the Crew have not been anywhere near their 2015 form since losing the MLS Cup final that year.
David Bingham replaces Brad Guzan on MNT World Cup qualifying roster | USSoccer.com
Guzan is apparently missing out due to the upcoming birth of a child, which is cool for him. This also clears up any mystery about who will start. Tim Howard will get the nod against Honduras and Panama, and Nick Rimando will be the primary back-up.
Fabian Johnson injured; could miss March qualifers | Stars and Stripes FC
This is more worrisome. Johnson is, at worst, one of the best 3 USMNT players. He’s also dealing with a hamstring problem, and those generally don’t just vanish in a week or so. Sebastian Lletget, Darlington Nagbe, and Alejandro Bedoya are all candidates to step in on the wing, with Christian Pulisic obviously starting on the other side.
Time for USWNT to consider benching Carli Lloyd | Soccerwire
I agree, particularly when this piece moves towards creating better passing angles by working off the ball. If the US is going to play 3412 going forward, the Carli Lloyd we’ve seen for about a year now either needs to be the second forward (not her natural role, but one she could still play successfully) or not in the team. The activity level required is just too high. And I’m not the only one fine with moving her up top.
Personally, since the USWNT has been experimenting for a while, I’d like to see Crystal Dunn deployed in that spot for a game. I’m not entirely sure it would work, but I think it is worth a serious try. I don’t really think taking your best scheme-breaker - and with all due respect to Tobin Heath, I think Dunn’s eye for goal makes her the top player in the category for the US - and saddling them with a lot of defensive duties is the best way to use that kind of X-factor. Dunn’s willingness to cover so much ground make her significantly harder to gameplan for, at the very least.
Patrizia Panico To Become First Woman To Coach A Male Italian National Team | The18.com
Former Sky Blue FC (the WPS edition) forward Patrizia Panico will coach the Italy under-16 boys team, starting with an upcoming pair of friendlies. Longtime woso fans might remember Panico for something else.
That’s it for me. I’m prepping for a Saturday involving a hike up to the Plex for some soccer in (possible) rain, then driving south to RFK for soccer in (probable) rain. What are y’all getting up to?