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Washington Spirit at Audi Field, D.C. United vs. Philadelphia Union, and more: Freedom Kicks for 8/23/2019

It’s another big weekend for your local soccer concerns

Anya Button

Let’s get to it. Loudoun United plays tonight against the Pittsburgh Riverhounds, D.C. United heads to Chester to face the Philadelphia Union tomorrow, and we may have something approaching a sell-out on our hands at Audi Field as the Washington Spirit host the Orlando Pride. It’s gonna be fun. Hopefully for all three teams, it’s also a hat trick in terms of wins.

Wayne Rooney’s Farewell Tour Is Off to a Bad Start | Washington City Paper
Ben Olsen and several D.C. United players had a lot to say after Wednesday’s loss. Yours truly should have more from that later today, but in the meantime, here’s Wayne Rooney’s angle on what happened on his red card.

Jim Curtin isn’t worried about the Union’s struggles, but he knows fans are | Philadelphia Inquirer
Wouldn’t it be nice to have enough points to not worry about recent struggles? I’m not even sure going 3W-0D-3L counts as “struggles,” but then I’m in the headspace of covering United (3 wins in 11 games) and the Washington Spirit (3 wins in 12), so who knows?

And now, an appropriate segue into what’s going on at United’s place while they’re away this weekend:

Washington Spirit nearing sellout for Audi Field game against Orlando Pride | Pro Soccer USA
The Spirit are saying they’re headed towards 17,000 or so in attendance, but tomorrow’s supposed to be a gorgeous day. If you’re on the fence and don’t have a ticket yet, I’d say you should open up a new tab and get yourself one right now.

Orlando Pride relies on versatility as backline copes with loss of top defenders | Pro Soccer USA
The Orlando Pride fielded an unusual-looking back four at Chicago midweek, then lost defensive midfielder Alanna Kennedy to a late red card, and Alex Morgan’s status is a total unknown after a scary-looking collision forced her out early due to a neck injury. She did walk off, and early reports were more positive than one would have expected after watching the training staff help her off.

Either way, the Pride are probably well short of their best at the moment, but they just beat the Red Stars away. The Spirit have to deliver an A+ effort regardless.

U.S. U-23 WNT will travel to England for the 2019 Nordic Tournament to face Norway, England and Sweden |
The Spirit won’t be missing anyone on national team duty tomorrow, but next week at Orlando (it’s a home-and-away series, essentially, and one the Spirit have to take 4 or 6 points from) they’ll be without Sam Staab and Jordan DiBiasi, who are on this under-23 roster. Meanwhile, Mallory Pugh and Rose Lavelle will be with the national team in Philly, so it’ll be a real test of Washington’s depth.

Washington Spirit ready to play on bigger stage at Audi Field | Washington Times
Spirit majority owner Steve Baldwin seems confident that there will be more games on Buzzard Point for the Spirit after this year’s pair.

Sky Blue FC’s game at Red Bull was a success, but only the first step | All for XI
Sky Blue isn’t quite as built-up a club as the Spirit, but this piece will give you some idea of what Washington’s staff has been going through trying to make tomorrow a success.

Finally, the ongoing battle between MLS supporters’ groups and the league itself over the Iron Front symbol and what constitutes banned speech at games appears to be at a standstill, and the Timbers Army may be making the next move tonight during the Portland-Seattle game on ESPN:

Finally, Portishead’s landmark album Dummy turned 25 yesterday. Here’s a song from that classic that still makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up every time:

See a bunch of you at Audi Field tomorrow, and hopefully those of you heading up to Philly come back with 3 points.