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D.C. United at Minnesota United, NWSL expansion rumors, and more: Freedom Kicks for 4/26/2019

No rest for the weary!

A single midweek game has wiped out what free time I have, sapped me of my energy, and cut into my sleep patterns. Good thing we don’t have any more for...uh...a couple weeks. Oh.

MLS schedule makers, take mercy on an aging soccer nerd!

Alright, enough complaining. Let’s do this thing:

Wiebe: Trying to make order out of chaos in the Eastern Conference |
I don’t agree with the idea that D.C. United lacks any impressive wins (RSL might not be good, but 5-0 is 5-0), but I do agree with the general sentiment. This is the best team in the East in my book, but they’re not an elite team (LAFC may have already boxed everyone out of that tier after thumping Seattle and United), and they’re probably no better than the fifth-best team if they’re in the West.

But! I think locally and nationally, there’s a weird tendency to ignore the injury situation here. It turns out that Joseph Mora was more important than we thought, and while I think it’s unavoidable to say United’s current form is fairly uninspiring, we’re also not really seeing the real version of this team...and yet, 17 points, first place, etc. If Lucho Acosta gets going, and United can scrape out a couple more wins here before Mora returns, this team has plenty of room to grow.

Also, since I’m filling your morning with optimism: United’s 1.89 points per game translates to 64 points. That might not win the Shield in a league that has LAFC, and it might not even be a sustainable number, but it does serve as a reminder that having concerns shouldn’t become a full-blown panic.

Here’s more positivity from Bill Hamid:

Maybe a bit less pleased, an absolutely drenched Ben Olsen from United’s training session out in Ohio:

Armchair Analyst: Around the league on a busy Wednesday night |
I’m not sure I completely agree with Matt Doyle here about how this game went down (United wasn’t really in a back 5 until late, for example), but I do agree that a) it’s pretty nice to have Wayne Rooney to turn a game and b) that the Crew’s total inability to shift gears and try something else other than crosses was confounding. I mean, it’s good that they did that, but why would they?

Minnesota United’s defense should be a lot better this season — what if it isn’t? | E Pluribus Loonum
Minnesota United added a TAM right back, a DP defensive midfielder, a Premier League-experienced goalkeeper, and two proven MLS veterans in their spine...and they’ve given up 15 goals in 8 games.

So, I had to look it up: Adrian Heath-coached teams in MLS have given up 241 goals in 126 games, or a little over 1.91 goals per game.

Maybe it’s not the players!

Hartford-area group makes push for ‘New England’ NWSL expansion team | Equalizer Soccer
Could be big news for the NWSL, who really need to bring in healthy ownership groups in new parts of the country. Of course, a New England-based team would just be going back to where the Boston Breakers (RIP) were, but the problem up there was never the region. Good owners in that part of the world should lead to a robust club.

Of course, this is American soccer, so being wary of any ownership group seems prudent. To wit:

NWSL teams as Avengers | All for XI
The Washington Spirit are not exactly the NWSL’s top dog, but nonetheless this is not how I wanted this to go down...but you’ve gotta admit, the pairing here is probably right.

It’s gonna be a stormy, unpleasant Friday. Don’t let the weather get you down.