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Mal Pugh madness, D.C. United vs. Chicago Fire, and more: Freedom Kicks for 5/19/2017

Friday night MLS is on tap, plus results from the Liga MX semifinals

It’s a huge weekend for soccer around these parts. D.C. United desperately needs a win of any sort (but especially a win where they look like, you know, a coherent soccer team), while the Washington Spirit are virtually certain to give Mallory Pugh her debut (and could also use a win given that last week’s loss dropped them into last place).

As such, I guess we should talk about it:

After a long battle with knee trouble, Chris Korb is finally back for D.C. United | Black and Red United
In case you’re one of those “leave work and stay offline” types - my oldest friend is one, they exist - Steven Streff talked to Chris Korb, Ben Olsen, and Bobby Boswell about the winding road Korb endured to get back on the field for D.C. United. Depending on whether Sean Franklin returns to the lineup, Korb may be getting his first start in nearly two years tomorrow.

Chicago Fire stays hot at home | Daily Herald
The Chicago Fire are a confident team. It’s a weird thing to say, frankly. I don’t like it.

The next who? Spirit's new star can be the first Mallory Pugh | FourFourTwo USA
The attempts to compare Mallory Pugh’s game to other USWNT players past and present is flawed, because she brings a combination of qualities - vision, speed, technical ability, and quickness - that no one else has shown to the extent she has. I encourage everyone to join me in racing from RFK to the Plex tomorrow, because Pugh could be a player you tell future generations about seeing.

2017 U.S. Open Cup fourth round matchups and hosting scenarios unveiled |
The draw for the Open Cup’s 4th round is out, and it looks like United got a favorable draw. Meanwhile, the Red Bulls play NYCFC, the Sounders will host the Timbers for the third straight time in USOC play, and Sporting KC will (probably knock out) Minnesota.

An amateur soccer team from Baltimore that doesn’t practice regularly, upsets pros in U.S. Open Cup | Washington Post
Steve Goff’s look around the world of soccer includes a list of the notable names (well, notable if you’re a nerd like me who goes to college soccer games) that suit up for Christos FC.

Speaking of the Baltimore area amateur side, you might be able to help them cover travel expenses, which are a real problem for any team in their shoes.

An Open Letter To Chicago Fire Fans On Confronting Homophobia | Hot Time In Old Town
A really thoughtful piece on how teams and supporters can actually be truly inclusive. Here’s a solid one-line summary from the piece itself:

There’s a pattern here: people wanting credit for addressing difficult social problems without actually doing the work.

As per usual, there’s a Friday night game, so let’s check in on the Red Bulls and TFC:

Training Report: Aurelien Collin unlikely to feature for New York Red Bulls against Toronto FC | Once A Metro
NYRB hasn’t looked the same without Aurelien Collin, because he’s their only truly athletic center back. Good luck coping with Jozy Altidore and the speedy Tosaint Ricketts, who will fill in for the injured Sebastian Giovinco.

Predicting Toronto FC’s lineup vs. New York Red Bulls | Waking the Red
Meanwhile, TFC appears to be getting Drew Moor back to lead their defense.

Down in Liga MX, the Liguilla (that’s their playoff) saw both semifinals take place last night:

Toluca salvages late draw against Chivas in first leg of Liga MX semifinals | FMF State of Mind
2017 Apertura Liguilla - Tigres 2, Xolos 0: Highlights and box score | FMF State of Mind
Tigres continues to roll on as seemingly always, with Tijuana’s hopes hanging by a thread. Meanwhile, Chivas has the edge to make the final, which is gross.

Alright, that’s all I’ve got. Spend your day trying to have fun even while Saturday and its stresses loom. Wait, Saturday is the stressful day, and not the best of the weekend days? How did I get here?