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D.C. United stadium update, FC Cincinnati, and more: Freedom Kicks for 6/30/2017

Metal going up, Minnesota going down, and bees!

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Look, it’s been a tough season for D.C. United fans. The team is out of the Open Cup, and making the playoffs will require a tremendous second half of the season. Saturday’s game is huge, and it’s followed by a brutal trip to Dallas to play a real contender in Texas in early July (so, basically on the sun). So let’s start our day with some good news:

It’s not the same as the groundbreaking, or even the final hurdle with the city council, but seeing actual stadium parts at the actual site going into their permanent positions is a big deal. I’ve watched this gif quite a few times already.

Nyarko a welcome addition back to the lineup |
Patrick Nyarko is nearing the chance to pass Ben Olsen in the all-time MLS record books for fouls suffered, which is both good and bad when you think about it. I know I felt a cold sweat break out when Nyarko was down and audibly yelling in pain after Je-Vaughn Watson crashed into him on Wednesday.

From Gold Cup to World Cup? Summer stakes are high for these five USMNT players |
Bill Hamid makes Brian Straus’s list of USMNT call-ups that are looking at a big opportunity with the Gold Cup.

Here’s some major news about another team’s indispensable winger: Ignacio Piatti will miss the next few weeks, including United’s visit to Montreal on Saturday, with an adductor strain:

Unsung Hero of the Week: Solaun Shines Again | Backline Soccer
The Washington Spirit’s Havana Solaun’s status within the team was unclear upon her arrival in an offseason trade, but she’s been one of the best attacking players on the roster in 2017.

FC Cincinnati shows there is no limit to what American soccer can become | SB Nation
Over 32,000 people came out to see FC Cincinnati take on (and eventually beat) a more or less full strength Chicago Fire side on a weeknight...with the Reds playing at the same a poorly marketed a game that Cincy - a USL team - had to promote on short notice.

Our friend Kevin McCauley couldn’t help but think this is a Big Moment for American soccer, and it’s hard to argue otherwise. Seeing something like this also forces us to wonder why other teams can’t do the same. Sure, there are some things teams like United and other MLS sides drawing half that total for league matches can’t replicate. Most importantly, Cincinnati is new and shiny, so that market is making their decision on that team for the first time.

Still, you can’t help but think that being new - while extremely important, and underrated in my book - is not the only thing going on. What have teams like Cincinnati, Atlanta, and even Sporting KC (remember when the Kansas City Wizards were the moribund MLS team?) figured out? Why have older teams - and United is far from alone having this problem - missed out on?

Weirdly, there was an MLS game last night. New York City FC came back to beat Minnesota United 3-1, a result that doesn’t really help United at all. Because it is, in fact, all about us. Anyway, here’s how our Pigeon/Loon analogues felt about the game:

RECAP: New York City 3, Minnesota 1 | Hudson River Blue
NYCFC backup Eirik Johansen got a shot to prove he can match Sean did not go well. The Pigeons won comfortably anyway, with David Villa doing David Villa things.

Recap: Loons handily defeated by NYCFC, 3-1 | E Pluribus Loonum
Factoid from this: Minnesota faces a schedule that has them playing 8 of their final 11 games away from home. They’re 0W-2D-7L on the road so far.

Germany vs. Mexico: Final score 4-1, Leon Goretzka fires his team into Confederations Cup final | SB Nation
There have been too many United/Spirit things going on for me to even begin to say I’ve followed the Confederations Cup. I’ve seen parts of two games that were on while I made coffee or cooked dinner. Anyway, I guess Germany beat Mexico, which probably means protracted discussion of whether Juan Carlos Osorio is out of a job or not.

The Last Death-Defying Honey Hunter of Nepal | National Geographic
This is wild. Aside from the trek to the mountainside itself, a complicated and bloody ritual designed to appease a god of both bees and monkeys, having to haul a 120 lb. rope on a flimsy, improvised bamboo bridge over a furious river, and getting up a sheer and dangerous cliffside, the subject of this then looks to take a massive beehive - the home of many thousands of 1” long bees - back home with him.

Suddenly, getting up and facing Beltway traffic to make a living doesn’t sound like such a test.

And with that, I’m out. Good luck tackling your own furious rivers and many thousands of 1” long bees today.