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Sky Blue vs. Washington Spirit, USWNT beats China, and more: Freedom Kicks for 6/8/2018

Last night the impossible became possible

NHL: Stanley Cup Final-Washington Capitals at Vegas Golden Knights Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Something that has never happened before happened last night. The Washington Capitals — my Washington Capitals — after 44 years are Stanley Cup Champions. I don’t even know where to begin with this, so please excuse a little navel-gazing. Watching a Caps game is one of my oldest memories, and in a lot of ways being a Caps fan is what taught me how to be a fan of anything.

That might explain a lot about me, now that I think about it. It has a lot to do with why I’m still writing words at this site about a team that has not had the best...well, decade. Before there even was a D.C. United to support, I learned about being crushed by defeat and coming back for more. I learned how to suffer through a hopeless season without becoming (too) insufferable.

It’s after 3am and I don’t know what to do with myself other than re-watch the game to confirm that it really happened. They overcame every one of their historic demons. Tortorella, the Penguins, 3-1 series leads, multi-OT feels like this team didn’t just win it all, but actively tried to make up for a history littered with acutely bitter, cruel outcomes.

I’m rambling, so I’ll wrap it up. Thank you to every Caps player and coach, the legends of the past, the fans from the Cap Centre days and those of you who jumped on more recently.

Let’s get to the soccer:

Ulises Segura is grinding away at rehab:

I’m tired just looking at this.

D.C. United to host Orlando City in 2018 U.S. Open Cup round of 16 | Black and Red United
This is a very winnable game, folks, especially as Orlando is busy three days later while United has the luxury of going all out. We should all be demanding a trip to the quarterfinal.

Washington Spirit’s Joanna Lohman Reflects on Her “ACL Journey” |
If you want to get inside Joanna Lohman’s recovery from her 2017 torn ACL, listen to this podcast. It’s important to remember how much about a recovery from a major injury is mental.

Washington Spirit news round-up: Maddie Huster signed, NWSL on ESPNews, injuries | Black and Red United
Here’s your update on the Washington Spirit, who are probably going to have to field a pretty weird-looking lineup tonight.

USA defeats China 1-0 in flat game | Stars and Stripes FC
After I got back from watching the Caps game, I asked some other NWSL writers if this game was worth watching, and was told “absolutely not.” So, in case you were watching a different game last night, here’s a recap.

Is the union between US Soccer and MLS fractured? | ESPN
Here’s Taylor Twellman sitting down with Earnie Stewart to discuss his vision for the new USMNT general manager gig.

Bedoya suspension upheld despite denying he called referee an ‘f-word’ and ‘a cheat’ | The Brotherly Game
Couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy. I know I laughed when Jim Curtin offered up Alejandro Bedoya’s unimpeachable character as a defense. What’s next, a note about a serial arsonist’s respect for the safety of others?

Injury Update: Latest on Yangel Herrera |
Yangel Herrera is done for the season after ankle surgery. It’s a devastating blow to NYCFC’s midfield, which has no viable like-for-life replacement. Most likely, they’ll try plugging Ebenezer Ofori into that spot, but he’s more of a defensive midfielder than the box-to-box presence Herrera is.

I really do mean devastating:

Sounders negotiating with one of Liga MX’s top scorers, agent confirms | Sounder at Heart
Seattle could finally land the striker their team so badly needs. It won’t help them tomorrow though, so good luck to them in their pursuit of Peru national team starter Raul Ruidiaz. Here’s hoping he scores a ton of goals on all of Seattle’s remaining Eastern Conference opponents.

Houston Dash sign DF Clare Polkinghorne |
The Houston Dash entered this season with an unknown coach and a roster that was universally considered the worst in the NWSL, but halfway through the season they’re 1 point out of a playoff spot and just landed an Australian national team starter with 97 caps to boost their back four.

Why Italia 90 was not beautiful to everyone, but will always be special | The Guardian
I love this article about the first World Cup I experienced (via tape-delay and replays on HTS). If nothing else, read it to get the link to the wonderful goal Roberto Baggio scored against Czechoslovakia.

A lengthy investigation revealed major corruption in Ghana’s Football Association, and Ghana’s government is not having it:

The Boys From the Banlieues | New York Times
Here’s your long read of the day, on how the disadvantaged and (by much of French society) oft-maligned Parisian suburbs are also one of the great pockets of young soccer talent in the world.

SB Nation Penalty Kick Assassin | SB Nation
Prepare to get frustrated at how helpless you are as a goalkeeper trying to stop penalty kicks.

For those of you who aren’t that excited about more Caps talk, here’s where you can take your leave. For those that want more, it’s party time:

... And Then They Were Stanley Cup Champions | Japers’ Rink
I’ve been making myself say it: “The Washington Capitals are Stanley Cup champions.”

T.J. Oshie held back tears as he shared the Stanley Cup with his dad | Washington Post
Not much I can say to add to this moving story about TJ Oshie and his father, who suffers from Alzheimer’s.

Alright, that’s enough. The Washington Capitals are Stanley Cup champions. Have a good one.