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2018 NWSL Championship, D.C. United’s playoff hopes, and more: Freedom Kicks for 9/21/2018

The Black-and-Red are off, but it’s a busy weekend nonetheless

There’s not much in D.C. United news out there today, what over a week until their next game, so let’s start with the most important games this weekend.

NYCFC would lock up a berth for MLS Playoffs with win over Montreal | Hudson River Blue
NYCFC has had 2 weeks to get their act together for tomorrow’s game against the Montreal Impact. The difference here is clear: a Montreal win puts United 7 points back with 2 games in hand, which would push D.C. close to “must win out” territory in the playoff race. A loss or draw means that United would be ahead of the Impact if they win their two games in hand.

Sporting KC v Philadelphia Union: Preview, Predictions, Injuries & Starting XI | The Blue Testament
On Sunday afternoon, the Union will host KC in a less vital game for United’s hopes, but one that could still end up being important. Philly has the Open Cup final on Wednesday, so they might be tempted to rest players. With KC trying to win the West, there’s every chance of a Sporks victory here, which would leave United 8 points back of the Union with 2 games in hand. It’s a long shot, but as long as the door is slightly ajar, we’ll keep an eye on it.

Revs vs Fire: Rivals on wrong side of red line meet on Route 1 | The Bent Musket
It seems like the Revs aren’t going away, so even though they’re a point behind United, their home game against the Fire seems like it’s going to end with a New England win. It would be very helpful if Chicago, for once, shows up with some fight and some quality.

Alright, with that out of the way, let’s move on to the NWSL championship, which is tomorrow at 4:30pm:

NWSL Final Storylines: Portland Thorns vs North Carolina Courage | Stumptown Footy
Here’s your preview from a Portland Thorns perspective. The Thorns are at home and facing a North Carolina Courage team missing arguably their most important player (McCall Zerboni broke her elbow on USWNT duty), but if Portland can’t play out of pressure, it might not matter.

NC Courage vs Portland Thorns FC championship preview: The top two teams square off again | Dirty South Soccer
Switching sides, the Courage have had one of the great seasons in American soccer history, but unless they win it all, the only people that will remember are nerds online (see also: 1998 D.C. United). What’s keeping Courage coach Paul Riley up tonight? Probably the fact that Portland put on the foil in last year’s championship, playing an even more physical brand of soccer than a notoriously aggressive NC side en route to a 1-0 win.

Jaelene Hinkle is aware of your boos, but doesn’t want to think about them | Dirty South Soccer
Riley may also be concerned about what will be a hot atmosphere thanks in part to his left back’s well-known anti-LGBT stance in a venue that prides itself on inclusion. Portland doesn’t like NC for numerous reasons, but Jaelene Hinkle (who looked a bit off when the boos started in Tuesday’s semifinal) is top of the list.

Staying with woso, me and some friends are doing a woso podcast that is not supposed to be very serious. Of course, our first episode ended with some serious soccer takes, which we’re going to try to do less of in the future. Listen in as we discuss the inaugural NWSL Most Online Player award, and a fight over hot dogs.

Maryland men’s soccer vs. Wisconsin preview | Testudo Times
I’ll be at Ludwig Field tonight because there are no weekends off during the season. It’s Pride Night, and students can get a free t-shirt. However, since I am ancient decaying matter, my freebie will probably be sneaking food in, which won’t even be free because I will have to buy it somewhere.

How Robyn, Pop’s Glittery Rebel, Danced Her Way Back From Darkness | New York Times
Let’s close this out with an in-depth profile of Robyn, whose forthcoming album should be front page, above-the-fold news everywhere.