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2017 Gold Cup, Lukaku to Man United?, and more: Freedom Kicks for 7/7/2017

Meanwhile, the Spirit gear up for a big game against Orlando tomorrow

With D.C. United’s players scattering to the winds - California seems popular, with Steve Birnbaum going home while Lloyd Sam and Julian Buescher are hanging out in LA - there’s not much to discuss. And you know what? It’s nice for them, and it’s nice for us. We need a break for a day or two, save perhaps from transfer rumors (shout out to Bruno Miranda, though also let’s note a 19 year old is not the savior here).

Spirit goalkeeper Stephanie Labbé wins NWSL Save of the Week for Week 11 |
Stephanie Labbe has had a Best 11 caliber season up to this point for the Washington Spirit (really, it shouldn’t even be close), and this week she got a nod for her save to rob Morgan Andrews of a 25 yard golazo in the first half against Boston last week.

Krieger: This is The Best Team I’ve Been on in the NWSL |
Obviously this is a huge game for Ali Krieger, who left the Spirit under rather acrimonious circumstances. However, if you’ve seen the Pride this year and saw the 2016 Spirit, it’s impossible to reconcile the idea that the 2017 version of Orlando is better (not to mention the 1.FFC Frankfurt team she was on that won a domestic double and the Champions League in 2008). Still a huge fan, but I’m not even sure the Pride are a good team among NWSL teams this year.

CONCACAF: Florent Malouda is ineligible to play in Gold Cup for French Guiana | Sports Illustrated
Brian Straus with the odd tale of French Guiana’s attempt to play Florent Malouda at the Gold Cup, which may not be over despite CONCACAF saying they’d forfeit if he takes the field. Bless our bad soap opera of a region.

The team Canada should start at the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup | Waking the Red
The Gold Cup, by the way, starts tonight with Canada facing French Guiana at Red Bull Arena. It’s a match Canada absolutely has to win, given that they’re in a group with Costa Rica and Honduras (who play the nightcap tonight).

In MLS, the final game of the July 4th matchday that happened for Reasons wrapped last night:

Match recap: Philadelphia Union 1, Sporting Kansas City 1 | Brotherly Game
The One with the Set Pieces: SKC draw with Union 1-1 | The Blue Testament
Basically, the Union were completely destroyed in most aspects of the game, but only gave away one goal and later got level through a penalty kick that Ricardo Salazar did well to spot. The Sporks, because they’re the Sporks, reacted as if Salazar had chosen to end world civilization.

Oh, and Union backup GK John McCarthy was flat-out brilliant, stopping KC numerous times in a performance that deserves player of the week recognition.

Sticking with MLS, here’s something that will bum you out:

That’s United, bottom of the East and technically in last place overall on the goals scored tiebreaker. The harsh reality for your Friday is that it’ll probably take 30 points in 15 games - at a minimum - to get into the playoffs. That leaves D.C. needing to win 10 times, while also losing no more than 5 games or drawing no more than 6.

Take a second to let this knowledge pass. Let’s move on.

Contenders, the Hunt & all 22 MLS teams by tier revisited |
Matt Doyle takes a look at each team. Guess where DCU is? You’re probably either dead on, or off by maybe one spot.

Rumor: Tenorio drops Yura to LA Galaxy | RSL Soapbox
This is not a major surprise. Mike Petke has had his issues with Movsisyan since taking over, and Movsisyan has handled it by snapping back in the press and with goal celebrations aimed at his coach. RSL probably needs a rebuild, and attackers who are both valuable and too much trouble to keep are usually shipped out when that sort of thing goes down.

However, out in LA, there’s apparently some skepticism (which makes sense, since the Galaxy don’t really need a #9...well, they wouldn’t if Curt Onalfo were smart enough to realize that Gyasi Zardes is a striker).

There was a scary situation Wednesday, as San Jose Earthquakes midfielder Matheus Silva (on loan with the USL’s Reno 1868) needed to be resuscitated and airlifted to a hospital during a swimming trip to Lake Tahoe. Silva was listed in critical condition on his arrival, but thankfully things have turned around:

For Teammates in Love, an Island Oasis | New York Times
Former Spirit defender Bianca Sierra and her partner Stephany Mayor, both teammates for Mexico’s national team, have been through a lot just to be on the same team. It’s sad they had to go through so many hoops, but they seem to be really happy to be playing together in the Icelandic league with Thor/KA.

United will break world record transfer fee for Lukaku | Royal Blue Mersey
Things are happening over in England. Everton is probably moving Romelu Lukaku, with Manchester United and/or Chelsea spending some amount of money that is so high that it’s basically an abstraction.

Year Zero: The making of Dennis Bergkamp (Ajax, 1986/87) | FourFourTwo
A profile on how one of the true legends of the game made his breakthrough despite the challenges of a high school biology exam.

17776 | SB Nation
Jon Bois is a talented weirdo, which means he’s my kind of person. This spiritual cousin to his Tim Tebow Chronicles from a couple of years ago has been a great, utterly strange experience so far.

OK friends, that’ll do it. We’ll have Spirit coverage tomorrow, and of course the USMNT starts the Gold Cup.