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Wayne Rooney and D.C. United at Audi Field, 2018 World Cup final, and more: Freedom Kicks for 7/13/2018

Soccer’s coming home (but not necessarily for all of us)

Jason Anderson

There is an inordinate amount of stuff to talk about today: D.C. United will debut at Audi Field, Wayne Rooney is likely going to debut for United, and then the next day is the World Cup final between France and Croatia, so...yeah, that’s a lot. Let’s go!

Audi Field represents a next-level pitch for D.C. United | Washington Post
Buzzard Point doesn’t just mean a change in venue. The standards for the entire club have to raise, and it sounds like Ben Olsen and Jason Levien get that.

D.C. United set to begin long-awaited second half of season at Audi Field | Washington Post
“It’s time to take this club to the next level,” indeed.

D.C. United partners with Levy, ThinkFoodGroup to bring a unique tastes to Audi Field | Pro Soccer USA
We’ve got something similar coming along later this morning, but until then, here’s Emily Olsen’s take on the menu tasting United hosted yesterday evening.

Cut out and build your own Audi Field | MLSsoccer.com
This is pretty cool, especially if you have kids in need of something to do: a PDF that you can print at home and form into an Audi Field replica.

Turning the Page | What Audi Field Means to D.C. United | DCUnited.com
Some pretty cool photos come with this short essay on what the big move means.

Of course, not everyone feels included in that big move. If you’re included in that group, or simply want to show some solidarity, the Barra Brava and District Ultras are holding a pre-game march from Canal Park to Audi Field:

Ben Olsen is the constant in D.C. United’s season of change | Washington Post
At an inflection point for United, here’s a helpful look back on how Ben Olsen got here, and what “here” means these days.

Jaime Moreno desafía con humor a Wayne Rooney: “Mi camiseta es un poco pesadita; a ver si la aguanta” | Univision
Bless Jaime Moreno forever. He has jokes, but he also makes an important point: this team isn’t going to turn it around unless everyone, from Wayne Rooney on down, puts in the work.

Wayne Rooney says Everton ‘were happy for me to leave,’ ahead of MLS debut | ESPNFC
Wayne Rooney told Taylor Twellman that Everton let him know he wasn’t wanted, and reiterated his belief that he’s still got a few good years left in his legs. Let’s hope so.

Whitecaps looking to ‘be spoilers’ in expected Wayne Rooney MLS debut | SportingNews
The Vancouver Whitecaps went with the most cliched answer for being the opponent on a given team’s Big Night.

Gregg Berhalter kept tabs on Patrick Mullins, waited for “the right deal” | MLSsoccer.com
I agree with what Berhalter is saying in this piece, but I would caution against some of the “Mullins is going to score double-digits now!” predictions I’ve seen elsewhere. Berhalter may have a perfect system for poachers, but Mullins isn’t really a poacher, and more importantly, Gyasi Zardes is very much still the starter in Columbus.

In Washington Spirit news, draft pick Schuyler DeBree (who was briefly under contract with the team as a national team replacement player) has opted to head abroad, signing with Sparta Prague’s women’s team.

Moving on, the World Cup final is on Sunday, which feels like something we should discuss.

How I fell in love with Croatia, the World Cup’s most indefatigable team | SB Nation
Describing Croatia as “indestructible” seems pretty reasonable given that they’ve played 90 extra minutes in the knockout round and keep finding themselves in physical games. France has a major advantage in terms of talent, but can they match the Croatian mentality?

N’Golo Kante deserves the Golden Ball | SB Nation
If you want to learn more about how teams win games, and how an individual player can be “hard to play against,” record Sunday’s final and, after you see it the first time live, go re-watch it and just focus on N’Golo Kante.

The World Cup Final’s Referee Is A Brick Shithouse With Trees For Arms | Pedestrian
Here’s an important analysis of World Cup final referee and Absolute Unit Nestor Pitana.

World Cup 2018: How Gareth Southgate’s tactical immaturity cost England their shot at the final | The Independent
This is a thorough breakdown of what England should have (but didn’t) do to deal with Croatia while 1-0 up in the semifinal.

France vs. Croatia: A First Look at Their World Cup Final Matchup | Sports Illustrated
Brian Straus looks at how these teams got to the final, and points out that none of the countries leaning on a “golden generation” (like Croatia supposedly is) have ever come away with the trophy.

That’s more than enough from me. Hopefully I’ll see a few of you tomorrow.