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Wayne Rooney rumors, D.C. United vs. San Jose Earthquakes, and more: Freedom Kicks for 5/18/2018

Between DCU-Quakes and the Washington Spirit hosting the Portland Thorns, we’ll be watching a lot of desperate teams tomorrow

Good morning! It’s rainy again, it will be rainy all weekend, and probably next week, and basically we are in the beginning stages of what becomes the movie Waterworld. Complaints aside, it’s a busy weekend for us, with D.C. United and the Washington Spirit both playing. Before that, though, we do have the small matter of Wayne Rooney to discuss:

Wayne Rooney could reject MLS move and perform Everton U-turn after Sam Allardyce’s departure | Daily Mirror
Let’s get started with rampant speculation! There is absolutely nothing solid in this report, but it does seem like United’s pursuit of Rooney is not going to go in a straight line.

A look at Wayne Rooney’s potential MLS prospects, from an ex-teammate and opponent | Washington Post
Steve Goff talked to Tim Howard about Rooney. Not sure Howard offered anything particularly surprising here, other than Rooney’s affection for jumping in goal in training. There’s also some fairly dubious thinking on how players age that, if true, would mean that players stop being effective due to disinterest rather than age. Which shall I put this? Uh, false. False is the word I was looking for.

Olsen and Birnbaum preview #SJvDC |
Ben Olsen is talking about high pressing (but not full-time, which...sigh) and grinding things out on the road, while Steve Birnbaum hopes the time on the road — United is staying out west after this game to prep for LAFC the following weekend — helps improve bonds within the team.

Who has faced the toughest and easiest schedules so far? |
Benjamin Baer’s data, which factors in whether you played someone home or away, says that United has faced MLS’s third most difficult schedule. This would make me feel better about the team’s prospects, except the easiest game they had all year was also their worst performance of the season (at Philly).

After “poor” start to 2018, successful road swing gives Earthquakes hope |
San Jose has already notched a win and a road draw this week. It would have been a lot better to play them before now, when they were in the midst of picking up just 2 points from 7 games, but here we are.

Washington Spirit sign forward Mallory Eubanks | Black and Red United
Let’s move on to the Spirit. Cali Farquharson is going on the injured reserve, so the Spirit have room to add Mallory Eubanks on a full contract rather than as a National Team Replacement Player (as was the case last month).

Thorns FC head coach Mark Parsons: “Moments like this will define the success teams have” |
Richard Farley talks to former Spirit and current Portland Thorns FC head coach Mark Parsons, whose side are surprisingly on a five-game winless run heading into tomorrow’s game against the Spirit (who are winless in six, so much like United-Quakes, this one is about two teams that are desperate for a win).

Stray point: if Washington is going to knock off the defending champs, they need to bring the same levels of focus and intensity they took to Portland a few weeks ago, and they need to make good use of their set piece opportunities. The Thorns are the NWSL’s most aggressive tacklers, and they’re going to give up plenty of free kicks.

Coffee & Valkyries, Episode 6: The One With Vlatko Andonovski | Sounder at Heart
Our friends in Seattle got Reign head coach Vlatko Andonovski to sit down for an interview. It’s worth a listen, as Andonovski is one of the sharpest minds in American soccer.

Germany Will Win the World Cup, UBS Says After 10,000 Simulations | Bloomberg
Not a shocking outcome, but there is the strange fact that Italy — who did not qualify — are being given a 1.6% chance of winning the tournament. I like the idea of Italy having a secret tactical plan that gets them a trophy in a tournament they’re not actually in, so I’m on board.

OFFICIALLY OFFICIAL: Gianluigi Buffon announces Saturday will be his last match with Juventus | Black & White & Read All Over
As expected, one of the greats is hanging it up this weekend.

Capitals vs. Lightning Game Four Recap: Killorn’s Late Tally Ties Series at Two | Japers’ Rink
I’m not worried I’m not worried I’m not worried I’m not worried OK fine I’m pretty worried. Here’s hoping the Caps maintain their nearly flawless road form up in game 5.

That’s all I have for you. Good luck in our new world where the rains never end!