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Wayne Rooney visits D.C. United, MLS expansion, and more: Freedom Kicks for 5/25/2018

All that plus US Open Cup pairings, previews for tonight’s MLS and NWSL games, and some good causes

It’s beautiful outside, which is a great time to hurt your back. That’s what I’m telling myself anyway, as I choose my movements very deliberately to avoid making things worse. Let’s talk soccer instead:

Wayne Rooney is touring D.C. with United, making progress toward deal | Washington Post
The Wayne Rooney to D.C. United saga continues, with Rooney coming to town for a short visit (and apparently making a regrettable hotel choice). Steve Goff mentions terms of a deal here: over $5 million a year salary, guaranteed through 2020, and a transfer fee somewhere in the millions.

What a world:

United to celebrate diversity, inclusion with Soccer For All month |
In less baffling news, here’s a schedule of what United is going to do for Soccer For All, a program put on by MLS WORKS.

Send the Black-and-Red to the 2018 MLS All-Star Game! |
Given how the season has gone, they’re probably not going to get many votes, so let’s instead focus on the fact that some selection of national media (not us, and as far as I know not the North American Soccer Reporters) thought that Patrick Mullins merited a nomination while Zoltan Stieber and Chris Durkin did not.

Washington Spirit Academy – VA unveils 2018-2019 coaching staff | Soccerwire
New Washington Spirit assistant coach Lisa Cole is just one big name on the Spirit’s roster of DA coaches, which is one of the best in the country.

The Spirit Squadron is selling Pride-themed shirts to raise money for Playing for Pride:

Hot Time In Old Town’s Pride Month Fundraiser | Hot Time In Old Town
Our friends at HTIOT are also raising money for a good cause, and are calling on readers to donate $1 for every goal the Fire and Red Stars score in June. This is one of those “damn, wish I thought of that” things, and we may steal this idea.

U.S. Soccer unveils 2018 U.S. Open Cup Fourth Round Pairings |
United is up against North Carolina FC, which we discussed yesterday. The four all-MLS pairings resulted in 3 very interesting games (NYRB vs. NYCFC, RSL vs. KC, and Columbus vs. Chicago), and also Portland hosting San Jose. As for potential upset, the three best bets in my book are Louisville City vs. New England, Sacramento Republic vs. Seattle, and FC Cincinnati vs. Minnesota. That last game was initially drawn with the Loons hosting, but US Soccer misunderstood Minnesota’s application to host (which did not apply to this round).

Speaking of the Open Cup, NPSL side FC Wichita’s locker room was robbed while they were playing their 3rd round match Wednesday night. NPSL clubs are made up of amateurs and college kids, so this is particularly egregious. The team’s supporters group has set up a GoFundMe for those that can help make up the costs of replacing everything that was taken:

FC Cincinnati to Be Awarded MLS Expansion Team, Club to Join League in 2019 | Sports Illustrated
Going back to FC Cincinnati, they had perhaps bigger news than the Open Cup yesterday. It looks like they’re going to be joining MLS next season after getting a downtown stadium approved.

Despite struggles, Fire GM Nelson Rodriguez still trusts process |
Among other things, Nelson Rodriguez says there’s inflation in the market for players right now. That’s not ideal news for United, who have repeatedly talked about making more than one big move this summer.

If no one’s untouchable in Montreal, who could chase Ignacio Piatti? |
Andrew Wiebe explains the situation that makes Ignacio Piatti more likely to be traded within MLS than sold abroad, and lists teams that could make sense as a place for the brilliant Argentine.

Here are previews for tonight’s top-flight soccer matches, in rough order of potential for entertainment:

Houston Dynamo look for first win over New York City FC on Friday night | Dynamo Theory
Houston’s reliance on their counter-attacking ability + NYCFC’s preference to dominate possession and take risks = potential gold.

FC Dallas vs Toronto FC Preview, Scouting Report and Keys to the match | Big D Soccer
This could become wide-open, but generally FC Dallas approaches road games with a cagey mindset, and teams usually don’t try to go toe-to-toe with TFC at BMO Field.

Utah Royals FC @ Portland Thorns FC: Match Preview | RSL Soapbox
This should be an intriguing game, though I feel like it’ll be more of a chess match than an up-and-down thriller.

LA Galaxy San Jose Earthquakes match preview: What to watch, predicted starting 11 and TV schedule | LAG Confidential
These teams are trash, and Zlatan is suspended. You can do better than this.

Real Madrid always covers for Marcelo. Can Mohamed Salah solve them? | SB Nation
Oh yeah, before I forget, the Champions League final is tomorrow.

That’s all I’ve got for you. Embrace your Friday, especially if your body has not started to betray you like mine has.