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D.C. United vs. Minnesota United, USMNT vs. Mexico and more: Freedom Kicks for 9/12/2018

Plenty of DCU and USA news, plus Alex Ovechkin meets Neymar

The main man Donald Wine was in Nashville last night, so I have stepped into his place, to guide you all along on today’s journey for Freedom Kicks. Plenty of things to get through today, so this is where the introduction comes to an end.

First of all, happy game day to all out there! D.C. United begin a seven-game home stretch tonight, hosting Minnesota United at Audi Field. 5 points back of a playoff spot, this is a game the Black-and-Red really need to win, considering the level of competition they will see in the remaining six games at home.

Minnesota was been hit hard with injuries, suspensions, and international absences, just like the Black-and-Red. Jason will have more on what their lineup will look like later, but here are the 18 available players for them tonight. Of note, it appears Darwin Quintero will be healthy enough to play, and he will cause United’s back line plenty of fits over 90 minutes.

In case you missed it, Paul Arriola rejoined United early, skipping out on the Mexico game last night. Emily Olsen from Pro Soccer USA talked to Arriola about that. Leaving early can never be an easy decision, and playing against Mexico is an experience unto itself (if you recall, Arriola was given a surprise start in Mexico during the Hex, the game which ended 1-1). At the same time, United has a couple of big games this week, and really needed Arriola back.

Also, here’s an interesting tweet from Matt Doyle about Russell Canouse. I feel like had Russ been healthy all year, he would have been part of this camp with the US. Maybe for the next one though?

Speaking of internationals, a couple of more notes as it concerns the Black-and-Red. Firstly, Zoltan Stieber did not play in Hungary’s 2-1 win over Greece in UEFA Nations League play. I looked it up, and conceivably, Stieber could get into Dulles by 2 pm today. That would give him time to get to Buzzard Point for the game, but it seems unlikely that it will happen. It’s a lot to ask for. Meanwhile, Bruno Miranda, who did not play in Bolivia’s 2-2 tie against Saudi Arabia on Monday, does appear to already be back in town, if his Instagram story is to be believed. So maybe he makes the bench?

And Junior Moreno rounded out his window by starting and playing 85 minutes in Venezuela’s 2-0 win over Panama last night. Not bad for the midfielder, who had already played 90 minutes in Venezuela’s previous game, a 2-1 loss to Colombia. Here’s one take about his performance against Panama.

In other United-related news, the club yesterday announced the “DMV Pathway 2 Pro” Program. The important take away is that it now appears that United will work more with local area club soccer teams. The relationship between United and the others hasn’t been the greatest in the past, but it now appears that everyone is willing to work together. Also read this from Charles Boehm about the program, which provides a lot more context for what will be happening in the youth club local scene now.

Next, apparently season ticket holders started to get invoices for next year’s tickets, and it seems like everyone should be expecting to pay more at Audi Field in 2019. Looks like the prices in the supporters section have gone from $360 for 18 games in 2018, to $480 for 20 games next year (the $500 includes the $20 Ticketmaster fee).

I’ve seen a couple of other people talk about price increases in other sections too. Have the season ticket holders here gotten their invoices yet? And how does everyone feel about the prices?

Lastly, this is a friend of mine who is making the move from Blacksburg to D.C. to start working for the club. So you might see him around at games coming up.

Okay, now that I’ve absolutely buried USA-Mexico, let’s talk about it. Both teams had relatively young and internationally inexperienced sides out yesterday, and it showed for the most part. Both teams have (hopefully) interim coaches at the moment, but there was still plenty of young talent on both sides.

The US ended up winning 1-0, thanks to Tyler Adams’ first international goal.

For my money, the US was teetering on the edge of really bad in the first half, which rightfully irked people. It’s been nearly a year since the US failed to qualify for the World Cup, and though the players on the field are for the most part fresh faces, with Dave Sarachan still at the helm as an interim manager, it seems like the US men’s national team is lacking direction.

They were marginally better to start the second half, but then this happened:

Center back Matt Miazga, after getting fouled by Diego Lainez, mocked the 18-year-old for being shorter than he is. This really irked the Mexican team, who came to defend the talented Lainez. There was a small kerfuffle between the two teams, as Miazga continued to show that he was taller than Lainez (as someone closer to Miazga’s height than Lainez’s, making fun of someone’s height is pretty lame).

But this seemed to anger the Mexican side, and moments later, Ángel Zaldívar got sent off for this tackle. It appeared that Miazga was successful in provoking the Mexican team, and got a reaction out of them that favored the US.

The US actually then made their numerical advantage count. A good run from Kellyn Acosta allowed him to find Antonee Robinson on the left. The defender crossed the ball into the box, and Adams, who had made a long run from midfield, arrived just in time to slide the ball home. Mexico had a chance or two after that, but the US held on for the victory.

The result really shouldn’t change all that much. Yes, of course it’s fun to beat Mexico. But there are still a lot of questions about this US team. And some of those questions, like who will be the coach going forward, don’t seem like they’ll be answered with much haste.

Also, for the US fans here, I wanted to share this tweet from Matt Doyle. I’d like to see your thoughts about it, if it applies to you at all.

There was also an international friendly in the area yesterday, as Brazil beat El Salvador 5-0 at FedEx Field. Not a great competitive game, but at least it led to this moment.

Think that is all from me today. There’s a lot more out there that I didn’t share, so if something interesting pops up today, or you came cross yesterday, please do share.