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D.C. United news, Man City vs. Liverpool, TFC kit leaked, and more: Freedom Kicks for 1/4/2019

We’re so close to the MLS & NWSL drafts, which means the 2019 season is upon us

It’s that time of year again, where your most hardened soccer nerds try to prepare themselves for the MLS SuperDraft and the more appropriately named NWSL Draft. Personally, I’m combining that with an attempt to prepare myself for being in Chicago in January, which is a thing I am doing to myself. Between the cold and the meat-and-pizza-only diet that will tempt me while I’m there, this might be my final Freedom Kicks ever. Remember me well, friends.

Exhilarated, intruding “imposters,” supporting their new soccer sides | Unusual Efforts
Let’s start today with a really thoughtful look at what it was like to join the rest of us as D.C. United fans, having previously been an outsider (on more than one level).

Maryland soccer goalkeeper is leaving for MLS; defender will work out in England | Washington Post
Push past the stuff about Dayne St. Clair — I’ll go on record here and say I think he’s being overrated across the board as a pro prospect, though as a Maryland fan I’m rooting for him to prove me wrong — to get to the latest update on Donovan Pines. D.C. United might have to come up with a big offer to keep him from pursuing a possible UK passport (which is extremely similar to how things went with Ian Harkes).

Lucas Rodríguez joins former teammate Luciano Acosta at D.C. United |
Do you want to see gifs of Luciano Acosta and Lucas Rodriguez combining to score goals? Of course you do.

Africa: Ordega, Oshoala Make CAF Award Top Three List |
For all the Frannylovers out there, Francisca Ordega is a finalist for the CAF’s 2018 Women’s Player of the Year award.

2019 NWSL College Draft team-by-team previews |
The NWSL draft is less than a week away. I agree with this piece’s recommendation of finding an attacking midfielder early, as the Spirit will basically be without Mallory Pugh and Rose Lavelle for the entire season thanks to US Soccer’s schedule, and without Estefania Banini when Argentina convenes its World Cup camp.

On the other hand, the Spirit were short of defenders for all of 2018, and since the season ended they’ve lost Tayor Smith to a torn ACL. They could try to sign some draft picks from last year (Schuyler DeBree and Brittany Basinger, for example, would immediately shore up the defense), but if those players aren’t going to be around, the Spirit pretty much have to focus on defenders in the draft. There’s a league-wide defensive shortage as is, so fixing the problem with trades will be very costly and difficult.

Updated preliminary list of players eligible for 2019 NWSL College Draft |
Speaking of the draft, here’s the full list of currently eligible players. This will probably change last minute, as there are some big names keeping their options open.

Out in Leesburg, the site for Loudoun United FC is clear and ready for building:

Events DC backs Swans in Prestigious FA Cup | PR Newswire
This is a thing that definitely did happen.

FC Cincinnati make offer to free agent Osvaldo Alonso |
Does a team that already has Victor Ulloa, Eric Alexander, Fatai Alashe, and Swiss veteran Leo Bertone need Osvaldo Alonso? No, no they do not. And yet, apparently they’re in the running to add him anyway.

Toronto FC 2019 adidas Home Kit LEAKED | Todo Sobre Camisetas
Well, that’s certainly a red shirt. It definitely has redness, and structurally it has the hallmarks of a shirt.

Here’s hoping Adidas and United come up with something more interesting with the new away jersey that’s due out sometime soon.

Reports: FC Dallas, Tenerife set for $3.2 million transfer of Bryan Acosta |
That’s a pretty un-FC Dallas transfer fee. It also strikes me as a bit high for Bryan Acosta, especially with his club Tenerife openly saying they need to sell him to fund acquisitions in their fight against relegation.

I might think that move is just a bit questionable, but it’s a lot smarter than this:

Between the Fire doing this, FC Cincinnati being entirely made of defensive midfielders, and the Revs still existing, the race for a playoff spot in the East feels like it might not be much of a bar to clear. The conference might have a very haves/have nots feel in 2019.

RSL signs homegrown duo Erik Holt, Tate Schmitt | RSL Soapbox
Real Salt Lake’s production line keeps churning out options for them. They’re a club for United to emulate with Loudoun getting off the ground, which might be part of why DCU hired Dane Murphy away from them.

Amaya, Buchanan to headline MLS Generation adidas class |
Virginia Commonwealth midfielder Siad Haji joins St. Clair on the list of players to sign Generation Adidas deals per Ives Galarcep’s report here. MLS hasn’t confirmed the list, likely as they try to finalize deals with more players before the draft...which is only a week away.

3 things we learned from Manchester City’s 2-1 win over Liverpool | SB Nation
The nerve of these English types, playing during what is definitively the offseason. They should get on the MLS calendar.

OK trolling aside, this game was pretty tremendous.

And with that, I’m out. This time next week, I’ll be surrounded by soccer nerds.