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D.C. United vs. Philadelphia Union, USWNT news, & more: Freedom Kicks for 8/2/2019

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Big weekend for your DC soccer teams!

There’s a lot of stuff to get to, so let’s not get bogged down up here. Good morning! Here are a bunch of soccer links!

D.C. United’s homegrown Donovan Pines is demonstrating his value | Washington Post
Andy Najar goals...remember them?

Anyway now I feel old. Thanks a lot, Donovan Pines!

In a whirlwind year, Pines finds solace in role for D.C. United | The Prince George’s Sentinel
More on Pines, including praise from Bill Hamid and Leonardo Jara.

MLS Best XI: Deserving Martinez, Gil among those snubbed in MLS fan vote | ESPN FC
ESPN’s “these are the real all-stars” piece drops Wayne Rooney for Josef Martinez, apparently solely based on the last 5 games, which is a standard not applied to any other player mentioned in the piece.

For the first-place Union and the rest of MLS, the playoff race kicks into high gear | Philadelphia Inquirer
There are a ton of consequential Eastern Conference games this month in the race for the playoffs, and few of them are bigger than D.C. United hosting the Philadelphia Union on Sunday. Both teams need a jolt, as United is in the malaise we’ve all been talking about for months, while the Union has lost 4-0 in two of their last three games.

Jamiro Monteiro returns to full training ahead of D.C. United game | The Brotherly Game
It would be good for United if Jamiro Monteiro sat out one more game before coming back from an ankle injury. As of now, it looks like he could do anything between starting and playing 60+ minutes, to being a sub, to not even dressing.

It’s a situation to watch, because Monteiro is kinda-sorta irreplaceable in Philly’s midfield.

D.C. United summer malaise with Alicia Rodriguez: Filibuster | Black and Red United
This week, we somehow set a record for brevity despite Adam’s absence, which is a fact that I can’t wrap my head around at all.

Need tickets for Sunday? And beer brought to you by Devon McTavish? Well, here you go!

NC Courage vs Washington Spirit match preview | Dirty South Soccer
The Washington Spirit face the absolute nightmare that is the North Carolina Courage later tonight. If the Spirit manage to avoid defeat, it’ll be the first time they’ve ever done so against North Carolina. They’ve started to improve after a mid-season dip in form saw them go winless in seven games, but going to NC and getting a result would be a huge step for the club.

Spirit hope the return of World Cup stars adds second gear for rest of the season | The Prince George’s Sentinel
More thoughts on the Spirit, who will have to do without Rose Lavelle and Mallory Pugh tonight due to the USWNT’s Victory Tour beginning on Saturday.

Report: Kate Markgraf the frontrunner to be named USWNT general manager | Stars and Stripes FC
It sounds quite a bit like the USWNT GM job is going to Kate Markgraf, who just so happens to have over 200 caps and a World Cup winner’s medal from 1999. Seems like a good move, which, how often do we find ourselves saying that about US Soccer hires?

Chicago Fire Acquires General Allocation Money from FC Cincinnati in Exchange for the Rights to Andrew Gutman | Chicago-Fire.com
Let’s recap this one for you: Andrew Gutman was hands down the best player in college soccer last year, and was eligible for a homegrown deal from the Fire. The Fire needed a left back thanks to Brandon Vincent’s early retirement, and that’s what Gutman is.

Somehow, thanks to both a lowball offer and general indifference from Chicago, Gutman ended up undergoing a successful trial with Celtic. And now, after a couple of short-term loans (one of which Chicago interfered with), FC Cincinnati is giving up what GAM they have left to get his rights, with no actual guarantees that he’ll be coming to them any time soon.

Anyway, if you want to know why these teams are where they are in the standings, this is probably a handy summary.

Moving on, here’s the NWSL team of the month:

Full disclosure: I’m one of the nerds who voted on this, and 9 of the 11 players here were on my ballot.

FIFA will expand the Women’s World Cup to 32 teams | Stars and Stripes FC
I think it’s a good idea to expand the World Cup, but only if FIFA is also going to force federations to actually support their women’s teams appropriately from a financial and institutional standpoint. This being FIFA, I am totally pessimistic.

Letter from the editor: The fight over the Iron Front flag | Sounder at Heart
A joint statement from the 107IST/Timbers Army, ECS, and GFC | TimbersArmy.org
There’s an ongoing dispute between the supporters of both the Seattle Sounders and Portland Timbers and their respective clubs after recent decisions by the clubs and MLS made it clear that they see the iron front symbol as “political,” and thus unwelcome in stadiums. I’ll be nice and say that it’s a regrettable call from MLS and from both the Sounders and Timbers organizations. Fans there are rightfully not happy about it, up to and including saying that they will not renew season tickets or spend money on merchandise, food, or drink at games for the rest of the year.

Look at These Faces: How Handsome Boy Modeling School Created the Perfect Album for ’99 | The Ringer
I will always post articles about Handsome Boy Modeling School, even if this one is often pretty far off-base (e.g. a declaration that this bizarre concept album based off of an old Chris Elliott TV show was a move towards the mainstream). Nonetheless, the argument that it was the best album in 1999 is good and true.

Also, that was 20 years ago, so I guess I’ll crumble into dust any time now.

On that positive note, let’s have fun this weekend! Might see a few of you at Loudoun’s stadium ribbon-cutting (tomorrow, 5pm), and hopefully Audi Field will be jammed for a game United absolutely needs to win.