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Kyle Beckerman retires, CCL Final, Alex Morgan leaves Spurs, and more: Freedom Kicks for 12/22/2020

It’s a busy day in the soccer world

Colorado Rapids v Real Salt Lake Getty Images

What’s up folks? It’s gonna be a busy one today: D.C. United could be active in the Re-Entry Draft, the CCL final is tonight, and (spoiler alert) there’s a press conference that’ll become a piece around these parts in the near future. Let’s get into everything that’s going on.

D.C. United’s new head of business operations will be first Black president of an MLS team | Washington Post
United’s coaching hire isn’t the only big role they’ve been looking to fill, and yesterday Steve Goff broke some news: Danita Johnson, formerly president and COO for the WNBA’s LA Sparks, is apparently going to be the Black-and-Red’s new president of business operations. It’s a history-making move, as Johnson will be the first Black team president in MLS’s existence. Obviously the business side of the club is not the fun part for most of us, but it’s important, and here’s hoping she’s a huge success.

Looking back quite a few years, Bobby Boswell had Alecko Eskandarian on Play by Players to reminisce over their days at RFK, plus a wide range of other topics:

Eligible players for MLS 2020 Re-Entry process stage 2 |
The second round of the Re-Entry Draft (you know, the one teams are actually active in) is today at 11am 1pm.

The career leader for MLS appearances among field players is hanging them up:

Kyle Beckerman is a certified MLS legend, and he always had a knack for coming back to play at his absolute best at RFK. It’s where he scored his first MLS goal (playing as a right wingback for the Miami Fusion, and I hope I’m not the only person that can remember being there).

Naturally as another Crofton kid who for a year or so in the mid-90s was maybe a loose acquaintance of Beckerman’s — we hung out a handful of times at my club team’s goalkeeper’s house, and there just weren’t many soccer diehards in 1995 walking the halls at Crofton Middle School, so we all got along to some degree — I’ve paid close attention to his career. Beckerman isn’t everyone’s favorite player because he’s always been combative and tough as hell to play against, but you know, that’s just doing the job in defensive midfield.

Anyway I’m old enough to remember when he was the #10 on the same USYNT side that had Landon Donovan (who was pushed out to the right wing), DaMarcus Beasley, and Bobby Convey. Which means I’m old! And also, before I turn this into a full nostalgia post, salute to a true classic MLS player.

Unique 2021 SuperDraft process previews shift in MLS approach to college players |
Charles Boehm looked into how things are going to work in the upcoming, and very unusual, MLS SuperDraft. With United picking 4th overall, it’s a situation we should all be paying attention to.

Alex Morgan to leave Tottenham Women for NWSL return in January | Cartilage Free Captain
Alex Morgan has ended her time with Tottenham Hotspur to head back to the US to prepare for the 2021 NWSL season. Between the new and unsettling news about a Covid-19 mutation in England and the fact that all of the supposed NWSL departures for the FA WSL were always going to be short jaunts rather than some major global shift, it’s not a big surprise. Most of the other USWNT stars over there will probably be coming back by the end of the Super League season.

Eduard Atuesta’s red card upheld, Ante Razov suspended | Angels on Parade
No surprises here either. Eduard Atuesta may have only been caught lashing out at Memo Ochoa because the latter feigned injury after not really even being struck, but Atuesta did try to hit him, and CONCACAF got it right by upholding his suspension.

They also got it right in suspending Ante Razov, who (not for the first time) took a swing at someone during a soccer game. The provocations of Miguel Herrera, Ochoa, or anyone else at Club America are irrelevant; you can’t go throwing hands in soccer games.

Who will take Eduard Atuesta’s place for LAFC in Champions League final? | Angels on Parade
Now this is the big question: LAFC has a huge hole in their midfield without Atuesta, who is arguably only surpassed in importance for Bob Bradley’s side by Carlos Vela. If they’re going to beat Tigres, making the right call here (and getting a top performance) is a must.

Speaking of potentially big absentees...

Personally I think Tuca is sandbagging here, but if Andre-Pierre Gignac and Javier Aquino both miss out, LAFC’s chances just got a lot better.

Naomi Girma voted 2020 U.S. Soccer Young Female Player of the Year |
Naomi Girma is gonna be a big deal as a pro, and it’s not a big shock that she’s the USSF’s top youngster this year.

You probably need a shirt, so why not get one that helps some good causes?

It is in fact called soccer.

Alright, this is long enough. Let’s close with an incredible sight that most of us in the DMV couldn’t see due to some extremely irritating cloud cover.