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Wayne Rooney to get final England cap, Seattle Sounders vs. Portland Timbers, and more: Freedom Kicks for 11/9/2018

Preparing for Boca vs. River while shaking our heads at PSG (again)

I’ll try to be quick here, because I didn’t get this written last night and I have plans to make myself a breakfast sandwich, which longtime readers know is the highest form of breakfast in my book. We don’t have too much D.C. United news, but there’s enough to keep everyone occupied on a rainy Friday.

Wayne Rooney: England players need to ‘respect’ striker on international return, says Gareth Southgate | BBC Sport
Wayne Rooney is getting a farewell cap for England, and the reactions have been, let’s say, predictably English. Heaven forbid your former captain gets one last cap, in an otherwise meaningless friendly, as a gesture of gratitude.

Mora’s strong season pays off with first call-up |
Joseph Mora has played his way into a Costa Rica cap. Good to see his growth over the back half of United’s season rewarded.

2019 NWSL College Draft to take place on Jan. 10 at 12 p.m. ET |
The NWSL announced what time the upcoming draft will take place (mercifully not at the crack of dawn as has been the case in the past), and posted the current draft order. The Washington Spirit have picks #4, 8, 20, 29, and 31, so it should be a busy afternoon. Also I can’t believe I’m considering flying to Chicago in January for this and the MLS draft, but I am absolutely considering just that.

USA beats Portugal 1-0 in low key away friendly | Stars and Stripes FC
Yesterday’s USWNT game certainly did happen. All three Spirit call-ups (Rose Lavelle, Mallory Pugh, and Andi Sullivan) got starts, but a very rusty-looking United States made hard work of an organized but otherwise unimpressive Portugal.

That was just the beginning of yesterday’s soccer games. Didn’t anyone tell these people it was Thursday?

Sounders vs. Timbers, recap: Seattle falls in shootout | Sounder at Heart
Portland Timbers prevail; beat Seattle Sounders in penalties to advance | Stumptown Footy
The night owls got to see a wild ending, as the Portland Timbers lost, then regained their aggregate lead in the final 22 minutes before the Seattle Sounders scored a stoppage-time equalizer to force extra time. Portland took the lead back, Seattle got level again, and it eventually took penalties for the Timbers to survive and advance.

Here’s my take, which seems pretty clear to me but was treated as too hot for this planet by folks running sites for teams in the Western Conference: the East is a better conference than the West, and this outcome is more proof of that. I’m not sure Portland makes the playoffs in the East (a la Montreal), and now they’re a conference finalist.

City Slickers: LouCity FC wins second straight USL Cup, 1-0 |
Louisville City FC spoiled Didier Drogba’s final pro game, winning their second straight USL title despite losing league leading scorer Cameron Lancaster to injury earlier in the playoffs. It wasn’t a classic, but the USL playoffs as a whole were pretty fun to watch.

Back to the MLS playoffs with a good omen:

Argentina goleó a Panamá y dio un paso clave rumbo al Mundial | Clarín
Former Spirit midfielder Estefania Banini captained Argentina to a huge win over Panama in the first leg of their World Cup qualifying playoff. After having an early penalty kick saved by sensational teenage goalkeeper Yenith Bailey, Banini ended up with an assist on Argentina’s second goal, and went on to beat four defenders on the dribble before curling a shot off the post, creating a scramble that became a critical third for the home side. Panama melted down from there, with two players getting sent off and Argentina grabbing a fourth goal from the spot deep in stoppage time.

Panama needs a miracle in the second leg, which is scheduled for Tuesday at the Estadio Rommel Fernandez in Panama City.

Netherlands, Switzerland in play-off final |
The Dutch, currently the defending European champions, will be favored in today’s first leg against the Swiss, who are missing two crucial starters in Ramona Bachmann and Lara Dickenmann.

P.S.G. Confirms It Used Racial Profiling in Recruiting Players | New York Times
Paris-Saint Germain is already dealing with the fallout from the exposure that they’re doing whatever they can to get around Financial Fair Play rules, and now we find out that they were apparently making racist choices in youth recruitment for years. They’re a cool team, definitely not a horrible embarrassment.

Boca v River: the Libertadores final South America has waited 58 years for | The Guardian
The Copa Libertadores final is usually bonkers, but this time it’s Boca Juniors vs. River Plate. Find a way to watch this tomorrow, it should be incredible.

I’m wrapping it up. Let’s close with this new Thundercat song that I can’t get out of my head: