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U.S. Soccer presidential race, D.C. United vs. Malmö, and more: Freedom Kicks for 2/9/2018

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This ugly election is very nearly over, and the MLS preseason has only just begun

Before we get into D.C. United’s preseason, the U.S. Soccer election (I know, I’m sorry), and some MLS news and notes, it’s time for the normal Friday self-indulgence. I just went for a short late-night run because I’m trying to get back into good enough shape that I can play in a respectable pick-up game without needing medical help at the end. Good news: the running socks I got are a big improvement over what I had. Bad news: This run was short. Long way to go before I’m turning up on a patch of grass near you with a ball and my turf shoes.

Darren Mattocks scores as D.C. United fall 2-1 to Malmö FF in preseason opener | Black and Red United
Let’s start the day with our recap of D.C. United’s first action of the preseason. Not a bad outing against a team that is finishing up their training camp, but still plenty to work on. Personally I liked what I saw from Ulises Segura and Bruno Miranda, and it probably bodes well that Darren Mattocks was a handful even before he scored.

Stray working theory on why Sheanon Williams played left back and Oniel Fisher, a fullback by trade, played left midfield: Injuries elsewhere, plus Williams is here trying to win a contract as a defender. It doesn’t do him or United much good to play him as a wide midfielder in terms of making that choice.

D.C. United showed new faces in preseason opener vs. Malmo, and Ben Olsen was pleased | Washington Post
Steve Goff was in attendance down in Florida, getting a few quotes from Ben Olsen and confirming that Yamil Asad is already in camp. If you want this deal confirmed already, please yell “ANNOUNCE ASAD” in the comments.

Malmö FF – DC United 2–1 | MFF.se
Here’s the official Malmö recap. Google Translate highlight: “Rasmus Bengtsson stood in the way several times but eventually poisonous striker Darren Mattock managed to run out and make 1-0 to the opponents.” There’s also a quick note from their coach saying he changed to a 343 late on, which is unusual for preseason play. It would explain why it felt like United was having the kitchen sink thrown at them.

In the near future, it looks like United will be facing former attacker Conor Doyle, who just joined the Jacksonville Armada:

Rapids acquire Goalkeeper Andrew Dykstra from SKC | Burgundy Wave
Speaking of former United players, Andrew Dykstra is heading further west after the Colorado Rapids sent a draft pick to Sporting Kansas City.

Sporting KC waives forward Soony Saad | SportingKC.com
MLS is getting better in a hurry. It wasn’t that long ago that Saad was a potential starter before the age of 23. Now at 25, he’s been cut loose. Some MLS teams will be intrigued, sure, but it’s interesting to see what a higher salary cap and all this TAM has done in terms of the attacking options clubs pursue.

Why the 2018 MLS free agent market is moving slowly | MLSsoccer.com
I hadn’t spent much time pondering this, but Sam Stjeskal is probably right on. TAM has changed the game in so many ways, and one of those ways is that it has made MLS free agents less alluring compared to the international options clubs can now afford.

Also, this mentions Alan Gordon to Chicago as a possibility, so just prepare yourself for him to either score a result-changing late goal against United, or get away with elbowing someone in the face. Some things never change.

U.S. Soccer launches 2018 spring men’s college program | US Soccer
This could be an interesting initiative. Georgetown, UVA, Clemson, UNC, Duke, and Wake Forest will play in a mini-league this spring, using standard rules (normal soccer clock, no re-entry for subs, 18 players in the gameday squad) rather than the NCAA’s odd version. If you’ve got the itch for local soccer, the Hoyas and Cavaliers both host 2 games. If the Spirit schedule doesn’t overlap, maybe I’ll see you there.

(takes deep breath)

Let’s get into the U.S. Soccer presidential election portion of Freedom Kicks:

What the hell is Soccer United Marketing? | SB Nation
With former SUM head Kathy Carter looking like the favorite the day before the election, it’s probably important to figure out some basics (which is to say, brush aside the wild claims you see on Twitter and actually learn some verified facts) about SUM, the poorly understood sports marketing arm MLS owns.

NWSL’s Voting Delegates to Support Kathy Carter in U.S. Soccer Election | Sports Illustrated
Why is Carter the favorite at this point? NWSL has committed to Carter, and both MLS and USL probably going the same way, her solid, known base is nearly halfway to winning in the first round of voting (which is Saturday...this whole thing finally ends Saturday). No one else can come even close to saying that for themselves, which is why you’ll see a lot of theories that Carter either wins in one round, or loses if all of the votes against her coalesce around one candidate. Saturday could get really weird.

How weird? Well, here’s what was going on late on Thursday:

Black History Month: Soccer is a religion, and America has a Pope | Stars and Stripes FC
Donald is doing great work with his Black History Month posts, and you’re crazy if you think we’re not going to highlight the one about Eddie Pope. Aside from being the best defender in MLS’s early era and the best center back this country has produced, Pope scored arguably the two most important goals in United history. We all know about the 1996 MLS Cup overtime game-winner, but he also scored the only goal against Toluca when United became the first MLS team to win the CONCACAF Champions Cup:

The schedule for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup came out yesterday, so if you want to give me some money I can start planning a trip to France next summer. Please contact me if you just have a few grand you’ve been itching to throw at a soccer nerd:

That’ll do it for me. I’m making an effort to watch more movies that are new to me based on a random and quixotic idea I had back in 2013 to watch 75 such movies in a given year. I’ve never gotten within 20 (my pace this year would put me at roughly 37-38 movies this year), but I’m still trying. Tonight: Train to Busan, a Korean zombie movie. Let me know in the comments what arbitrary goals you’re holding yourself to.