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MLS expansion, US Soccer’s deep pockets, and more: Freedom Kicks for 5/5/2017

D.C. United gears up for Saturday, while the Washington Spirit get some kudos

It’s Cinco de Mayo, which means people here in the US are going to go too hard and act a fool. I have some experience in going out to watering holes and acting like an unhinged lunatic while not wronging people or going to jail, so here’s some advice:

  1. This isn’t Mexico’s July 4th. Their independence day is September 16th.
  2. Don’t drink Corona. It tastes like sulphur. I know their ads are seductive. Don’t drink Corona.
  3. If you’re not an experienced drunk, today is not the day to push your limits. All hell will be breaking loose at many bars, and you’re going to have a more difficult time getting home and avoiding things like injury or stray vomit. Find a civilized spot, mix a few rounds of water in there, and do not try to duke it out with the booze gladiators who are speed-drinking at the place down the street offering Corona for $3 (which is still too much, see #2)
  4. Tip your bartenders and waitstaff! Today sucks for them because everyone is acting like a jackass. And as a corollary, don’t waste their time either. Keep your orders short, and know what you want before you signal for them.
  5. If you’re thinking about a sombrero or any other “Mexican” accessories for your outfit...please rethink this decision and the thought process that caused you to end up there.

With that in mind, here are some links that are not at all related to what I’ve said so far:

Bill Hamid is still the long-term answer in the USMNT goal | FourFourTwo USA
Paul Tenorio going to bat for D.C. United’s Bill Hamid here.

Reading the game: How to (and how not to) manage a multi-goal lead | FourFourTwo USA
On the same site, Matt Pentz talks to Sigi Schmid about game management, and contrasts the Revs throwing a 3-0 lead in Seattle away with United smartly holding Atlanta off on Sunday.

Stray point that I’ve been meaning to mention somewhere: I’m still of the opinion that Marcelo Sarvas coming in for Luciano Acosta is in no small part due to the nagging ankle pain Lucho is dealing with. Under normal conditions, Acosta is a dogged defensive player who wins the ball back for D.C. while also providing the soccer IQ and ability to play in tight spaces that are invaluable when your opponent is selling out to pressure the ball. Marcelo can do that too, but not at Lucho’s level.

In other words, I think folks in general have read more into that sub than was really there. I’m sure getting a more defensively oriented player onto the field was involved with the decision, but I’m not sure it was more involved than the long-term thought of making sure Acosta can keep starting in the games to come.

United announce partnership with Ellicott City Soccer Club |
The more deals like this, the better. United has lots of competition at the youth level around here, but they’ve always got the “this is the most straightforward way to earn a pro deal” card to play.

Dynamo's Romell Quioto ready to get back into starting XI | Houston Chronicle
United doesn’t necessarily need a left winger. I expect Patrick Nyarko to return from injury and be more like himself, and Lamar Neagle’s last two games have been much better than what we’d seen in the early going this season.

But if Dave Kasper wants to make a phone call to Space City, I certainly wouldn’t complain.

Stephanie Labbé, Estelle Johnson named to NWSL Team of the Month for April |
April did not go well for the Spirit, but two players who have stood tall in difficult circumstances have earned some recognition. Labbé very nearly made my Player of the Month ballot (had her in 4th), while Johnson has shown well despite having to shift out of the center and into a right back role due to formation changes caused by injuries (against North Carolina) and to stem the tide against a dominant Houston Dash side.

The Way I See It: Unsung Hero of the Week | Backline Soccer
And here’s more praise for Johnson’s performance against the Dash.

For A&E Network, NWSL both a property and an investment | Sports Business Journal
A few inside details on the game-changing deal the NWSL and A&E agreed to this offseason.

Stefan Frei rebuilt his career in Seattle after it fell to pieces in Toronto | ESPNFC
With Seattle hosting TFC this weekend, Matt Pentz has a pretty good look back on Stefan Frei’s save on Jozy Altidore. Includes a lesson on how having a beard can help a goalkeeper, which is not what I was expecting.

Where and how Johannsson might wind up in MLS / Duka on the move? |
If Aron Johansson comes to MLS, interested teams are going to have to make a deal with Houston (or someone else high up the allocation order) to make it happen. Also, more of the legalese around GAM and TAM, and Dilly Duka could be available.

Nashville's MLS interests align as expansion bid head Ingram buys city's USL team | Sports Illustrated
The pieces are falling into place in Nashville, which would make for a pretty nice away trip. Things are also happening in Phoenix, which is a far larger city that I personally have no interest in ever visiting. I’m sure my whims will factor into MLS’s decisions.

Speaking of MLS, there’s a game tonight! Let’s check in with the Colorado Rapids and Vancouver Whitecaps (side note: Colorado and Vancouver? MLS is trying to get us to go to bed early tonight).

Backpass: Is it time to panic? | Burgundy Wave
In Colorado, the age-old question every struggling team has to ask themselves is out in the open now. Aside from doing nothing to improve their woeful attack from last season, Pablo Mastroeni recently said that the club is focusing on 2018 in such a way that it’s hard not to read his meaning as anything other than giving up on this year.

At the quarter mark, has this year’s Whitecaps team improved from the one that started 2016? | Eighty Six Forever
Meanwhile in Vancouver, there are reasons to believe they’ve at least improved on last year’s mediocre team.

US Soccer’s $100 Million Problem |
Charles Boehm points out the silliness of investing in another national training center while the grassroots end of the game continues to go underfunded. It’s going to bother me a lot when that’s exactly what happens. We need hundreds of small-sided soccer courts than we do a national training center, especially while the StubHub Center remains something nearly every country in the world would envy.

That’s it for me. Don’t drink Corona.