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2018 World Cup, Mohamed Salah, U.S. Open Cup, and more: Freedom Kicks for 6/15/2018

All that plus the chance to get to know more about two Washington Spirit players

Nikita Taparia

I had hoped it would take a few days before making time for the World Cup would catch up with me in terms of lost sleep, but I’m already wiped out after getting far less sleep than was wise in order to take care of what I needed to so I could watch the opening game. Mercifully, today I’m waiting at home for a plumber, so I can just sip my coffee and enjoy today’s matches.

Perhaps this fatigue is why I have such a lame intro for you today, and it’s definitely why I’m just going to move on to the links:

Wayne Rooney move to D.C. United still not done but ‘very likely’ to happen | Washington Post
Things with Wayne Rooney are pretty much where they were the last time we discussed this: his contract terms are settled, and it’s just down to negotiations between United and Everton. That stop in Ireland was to apply for a work permit, which is probably a really strong signal that this is going to happen.

The bigger news in Steve Goff’s report might be in the back half of the piece: United is circling a 19-20 year old attacking player valued at “several” million bucks, and is about to hire a full-time scouting director in South America.

Repeat: full-time. Let’s hope the new hire has the names of some good defenders saved on a spreadsheet somewhere.

Worra discovering the perfect combination of confidence and craziness |
Travis Worra talks about his D.C. United debut back in 2015, how he nearly signed with North Carolina, and the adjustment that comes from shuttling back and forth between teams.

Here’s an interesting visual comparing where MLS’s top strikers are aiming when they shoot. It’s nice to see Darren Mattocks in this kind of company:

Germantown Has Become Home-Base for the Washington Spirit’s Tori Huster | Germantown Pulse
Tori Huster is the only player to figure into every Washington Spirit season, and unsurprisingly her six years with the team have resulted in putting down some roots.

It Is Art |
Spirit forward Tiffany Weimer’s appointment to get her knee drained turned into an unexpected reminder about a fundamental truth about soccer.

Seattle Reign acquire Adriana Leon from Sky Blue | Sounder at Heart
This is a couple days old, but given Leon’s history of scoring pretty much every time she faces the Spirit, it bears mentioning. It’s also a great piece of business from Seattle, who traded virtually nothing to get an established pro and Canada international who comes with a free roster spot.

Moving on to the World Cup:

Russia coast past Saudi Arabia and leave them all smiling in Putin’s place | The Guardian
Russia completely dismantled Saudi Arabia yesterday, in part because the Saudi center backs had a complete nightmare of a game from start to finish. If they play like that against Uruguay and Egypt...yikes.

Russia found World Cup magic by losing a star player | SB Nation
A look at how an early injury to an important player didn’t derail Russia’s hopes yesterday.

Russia’s ‘Spoons of Victory’ are the 2018 World Cup’s vuvuzela | SB Nation
I didn’t really notice the noise of these yesterday, but apparently everyone is hitting spoons against each other.

Egypt v Uruguay preview: Mohamed Salah set to feature | Sky Sports
Hector Cuper (who has been around forever) says that Mohamed Salah will start today, which is pretty cool. This feels like it’s going to be a fun game to watch.

World Cup 2018: Morocco v Iran | BBC Sport
Two teams known for being excellent defensively (Morocco, for example, didn’t give up a single goal in the final round of African qualifying) both have a reason to open up a bit and really go for a win here. With games against Spain and Portugal left to play in Group B, a draw is most likely as good as a loss for both the Atlas Lions and Team Melli.

Portugal are a dangerous underdog vs. Spain that you wouldn’t bet against | ESPNFC
Spain vs. Portugal is the game that everyone’s going to talk about ahead of time, but I’m not sure it’s actually going to meet the hype. Still, I’m interested in seeing what Spain looks like after opting to fire their coach and open up divisions in their squad just a day before the tournament began.

The time I almost went to the World Cup, but didn’t | Angels on Parade
I enjoyed this quite a bit, and it reminded me of how lucky I am that I got to go to the five games played at RFK.

With MLS on break for World Cup, Portland Timbers turn full attention to U.S. Open Cup | The Oregonian
Most of the games are on this coming Wednesday, but the Open Cup’s Round of 16 starts tonight with the LA Galaxy heading up the coast to face the Portland Timbers.

LA Galaxy add defender Sheanon Williams, release Emrah Klimenta | LAG Confidential
Remember when Sheanon Williams was on trial with United? A team whose fullback situation has been a problem all year long? Well, now imagine being a team so hard-up at right back that you’d take a player that couldn’t make it onto this year’s D.C. roster.

That’s it for me. Rest up and give yourself time to make a nice breakfast this weekend before gorging on all the soccer coming your way.