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D.C. United vs. LAFC, Mal Pugh scores twice in USWNT win, and more: Freedom Kicks for 4/5/2019

Big game tomorrow!

This is a long one, mostly because so many people have so much to say about D.C. United’s game against LAFC tomorrow. Top of the table clashes will do that. And then on top of that, there’s the preposterous USWNT game from last night, rumors of a Chicago Fire rebrand and move...there’s a lot to tackle today.

MLS Spotlight: Acosta’s newfound willingness to defend is key for D.C. United | Soccer By Ives
Everyone, make sure you say thank you to Wayne Rooney tomorrow, as he apparently inspired Luciano Acosta to do more work without the ball and spark last year’s renaissance.

Extratime: Rooney effect at D.C. United + Nedum Onuoha on racism in soccer |
I’m told there are 27 minutes of D.C. United talk on this episode of Extratime, so listen in. Some of it’s fun (Steven Birnbaum talking celebrations and who taught him how to head the ball), some of it’s not as much fun (Pablo Maurer gets into the rumors about Lucho’s departure, including the name of a new suitor in the mix).

D.C. United vs. LAFC: Three Questions | Angels on Parade
Ben answered some questions from our friends out west letting them know how it’s going in our part of the world.

The hometown kid: Adrien Perez on his road from arena soccer to LAFC | Angels on Parade
I don’t know if he’ll play a major factor tomorrow, but Adrien Perez is a pretty interesting story, making the rare jump from indoor soccer to MLS.

Why DC United vs LAFC could be an early MLS Cup preview |
Good attacks, good midfielders, good defenses, top stars, they’re in form...yeah, this checks out.

LAFC the highest scoring team in MLS, but they’re wary of DC United threat |
Game recognize game. And you can bet that Los Angeles Football Club is thinking about what they have to do to deal with United’s attack, as they don’t necessarily have the most robust presence screening their defense.

Also, since Bob Bradley has turned into an American who says football rather than soccer, obviously United needs to go hammer LAFC tomorrow. It’s only right.

DC United says Audi Field home advantage rivals – or even betters – LAFC’s |
Be loud on Saturday and leave everyone there with no doubt what the better venue is.

Black-and-Red Basics presented by AdvoCare - Chris McCann
Ben Olsen Pregame Sound | #DCvsLAFC
Check in with Ben Olsen and probable starter Chris McCann for their thoughts going into the big game tomorrow.

Washington Spirit set to play a pair of matches at Audi Field | Washington Post
Steve Goff breaks the news that the Washington Spirit will play twice at Audi Field, which is pretty cool news. It’s not exactly surprising, as they left those games listed as “TBA” on their initial schedule, but it was still a variable up until now. I tweeted a couple thoughts on the matter yesterday, and to them I’ll add that the choice here is designed to benefit from a post-World Cup bounce in casual fan interest.

Washington Spirit announce 2019 broadcast schedule |
Every Spirit game will be on Monumental Sports Network subscribers, all but one of their games will be available to stream via NBC Sports Washington. The specific question that everyone is probably going to ask, which is “how many games will be on actual cable TV?,” is the one thing that hasn’t been determined yet.

Either way, it’s pretty cool and significant progress for the team.

USA takes Australia for a 5-3 ride | Stars and Stripes FC
Last night’s USWNT vs. Australia game was, especially after halftime, bonkers. I don’t think the U.S. is really cut out four straight tactical games that turns on one moment in the knockout rounds this summer in France, but I also think they’re still the most likely winners in the tournament. Why? Because they’re generally pretty good at making sure games don’t turn on one moment. As long as their games are a mix of individuals doing the spectacular and battles about athleticism and mental toughness, they’re going to have a great chance to beat anyone.

On the other hand, as the last Olympics showed, it only takes one team that can prevent that from happening to turn their hopes into a coin toss.

Anyway! The Spirit’s Mallory Pugh scored twice, putting one away seconds after coming in before icing a wild game with this delightful chip:

Rose Lavelle played the first 45 minutes, while Andi Sullivan was not in uniform as Jill Ellis cut her 24-woman squad down to 18 for the game.

You know who else scored? Alex Morgan, whose 14th minute strike was her 100th for the USWNT. Nike was ready to commemorate the occasion with this extremely, extremely limited edition shoe that probably costs more than my car:

Mistake by the Lake? Sea Changes Afoot for Chicago Fire | High Press Soccer
Charlie Boehm has some information on the rumors of the Chicago Fire moving back into Chicago itself, changing their name, and more.

So About Those Rebrand Rumors | Hot Time in Old Town
Here’s a great summary of what it means to fans when MLS clubs ponder rebrands because some branding consultants have metrics indicating a need to be a hashtag disruptor, or some other such garbage.

Further north, the Canadian Premier League unveiled all of the league’s kits. You might recognize former United winger Kyle Porter in there.

Danny Rose ‘can’t wait to see the back’ of football because of racism | The Guardian
Hate to end this post with some bad news, but that’s 2019 for you. After yet another incident (this time, Montenegro fans engaged in repeated racist chants directed at England during the recent international window), Tottenham Hotspur’s Danny Rose openly states that he’s already looking forward to being retired at 28 years old.

That’s it for me. See you in the rain at Ludwig Field for tonight’s Loudoun United vs. Maryland friendly...or tomorrow at Audi Field...or later tomorrow at the Maryland SoccerPlex for the Spirit’s preseason finale.