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Europa League final, Mal Pugh, Washington Spirit, and more: Freedom Kicks for 5/12/2017

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D.C. United and the Spirit prep for games, and the Dynamo hosts the Whitecaps

Happy Friday! Or, dreary Friday. It’s dreary. What is this? It’s May and I’m having to bring a jacket everywhere.

Let’s start the day with some good news:

As a Caps fan, there’s a little inspiration in watching someone get up and get walking even when times are tough. Life may saddle you with a team that seems entirely unable to win even one championship, but you still have to get up and keep going.

But don’t ask me if I’m watching the conference final. I don’t want to talk about hockey for a while.

It looks like Mallory Pugh will play for NWSL’s Washington Spirit | Washington Post
Steve Goff started his Thursday look around the soccer world with a bomb. Nothing’s done yet by any means, but the Washington Spirit may be on the verge of landing arguably the best young player this country has ever produced (male or female, and yes she’s that good).

That would make a hugely controversial offseason of moves suddenly far more palatable. If you’ll recall, Ali Krieger was traded to Orlando for the 2nd spot in the NWSL’s distribution rankings, and then the Spirit bundled that spot, a 1st round pick, and highly-rated defender Megan Oyster in a trade to Boston to get Kristie Mewis, Kassey Kallman, and the top spot.

Basically, if Washington lands Mal Pugh, it’s a game-changer for the club.

World Cup 2019 fuels Northern Virginia native Andi Sullivan’s road to recovery | Washington Post
And if things don’t work out with Pugh, Andi Sullivan (another player with many USWNT caps in her future) sounds like she’d really enjoy playing close to home. This is a pretty good profile that involves a golf cart and Probabilistic Studies.

El Barça tendrá un equipo en la Liga femenina de Estados Unidos a partir de 2018 | Sport.es
It’s cool that Barcelona wants to have a team in the NWSL, but we’ve seen foreign clubs make the same mistakes over and over again when launching satellite clubs here. If it’s just a brand outpost being run by folks who don’t care to learn how things work here, or if it’s just busywork for someone at the parent club, or if it’s anything less than an attempt to embrace the prospect of growing a club and league here, it probably won’t work.

It’s also very much worth noting that this article speaks in definitives, while the NWSL itself replied with this rather less certain statement:

We were pleased to learn that earlier today the FC Barcelona Board of Directors approved a development plan for women's soccer in the United States and we look forward to continuing discussions with the club regarding expansion into the NWSL.

One night in D.C.: Heartbreak, contempt, and a little hope for the city’s seemingly doomed sports teams | Fox Sports
I link this mostly because, for once, someone mentioned D.C. United when talking about #DCsports without coming across like they’re doing us soccer fans a favor simply by acknowledging that our teams exist and has won something.

DC United vs. Philadelphia Union - 2017 MLS Match Preview | MLSsoccer.com
Factoids and quotes on tomorrow’s game from the league site.

As is usually the case, there’s a Friday night game in MLS. Let’s check in with our friends covering the Houston Dynamo’s game against the Vancouver Whitecaps:

Houston Dynamo hope to carry momentum against surging Vancouver Whitecaps | Dynamo Theory
In Houston, the question is whether the Dynamo will stick with the 433 that ripped Orlando to shreds, or go back to the diamond 442 that had been preferred for a few weeks before that.

Match Preview - Caps vs Dynamo | Eighty Six Forever
Meanwhile, the Whitecaps are probably going to drop deep and look to play on the break. Given that they’ve won two straight on the road doing that, it’s not the worst plan.

Manchester United 1 - 1 Celta Vigo: United squeak through to the Europa League final | The Busby Babe
Manchester United vs. Ajax in a European final? It’s like the 90s all over again!