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Rodolfo Pizarro signing with Inter Miami, D.C. United news, and more: Freedom Kicks for 2/14/2020

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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MLS: New England Revolution at D.C. United Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

It’s Valentine’s Day, and normally I’d try to tell a story of some past folly related to Valentine’s Day, but I don’t really have one of note, and since I also fell asleep without writing this last night, it’s better to just get to the links rather than sit here for 20 minutes just to produce something tangentially related. So: the links!

Let’s get the bad news out of the way:

For a team that was already thin at center back, this is not great! It wouldn’t shock me if D.C. United offers trialist Aaron Maund a deal very shortly as a result. I took a quick scroll through the list of MLS free agents and the guys that weren’t picked in the Re-Entry Draft, and let me tell you: there just weren’t many center backs let go this offseason, especially once you consider that two players (Jalen Robinson and Kofi Opare) United has recently opted to trade away are on that very short list.

The best option from those lists? I’d say it’s former Quakes center back Francois Affolter, who appears to still be available (though he’s on trial with FC Aarau in Switzerland).

University of Maryland’s next president is a soccer dad to D.C. United’s Donovan Pines | Washington Post
Here’s some good Pines-related news.

D.C. United looks for lineup clarity with packed preseason schedule | Pro Soccer USA
Just before the team headed back to Florida, a few of us media types got to attend one last training session. Here’s Emily Olsen’s take from that, and I should have mine done later today after being unexpectedly swept up in work stuff the last couple of days.

Community Benefits Agreement with D.C. United reaching new heights | The Southwester
A lifetime of living around D.C. has prepared me for the number of acronyms in this piece. Anyway, it seems like United is living up to their end of the bargain on this different sort of CBA.

2020 Strength of Schedule Rankings: Who has the toughest schedule? |
I had been planning on doing exactly this at some point this winter, but I never got around to it, and also forgot to mention it to anyone else. Don’t do these things!

Anyway, the news is good in theory: United has the league’s 23rd hardest schedule. However, that’s based on last year, and everyone changed a bunch of things about their teams, so who knows?

Armchair Analyst: Nine key MLS position battles to watch in 2020 |
Matt Doyle proposes that United could clone Julian Gressel, and I’m here for it.

Dear D.C. | Washington City Paper
Washington Spirit veteran Tori Huster is among the folks that wrote short essays on the District for this piece.

Rose Lavelle’s Insane Soccer Brain | The Athletic
Full disclosure: I haven’t had a chance to listen to this podcast yet. But, it’s Meg Linehan talking Rose Lavelle, so it’s gonna be good.

MLS Avoids Nightmare Scenario as Nashville Resolves Stadium Issue | Sports Illustrated
There is a strong echo of that short stretch of time when Mayor Bowser took the Reeves Center out of the stadium deal here, leaving all of us assuming the worst, in what went down in Nashville. Instead, we don’t have to find out whether MLS was going to shutter the team after one season, or just have their bluff called and play in an NFL stadium with an unclear future.

Mexican star Rodolfo Pizarro is in town finalizing transfer to Inter Miami | Miami Herald
A reported $12 million fee has brought Rodolfo Pizarro to MLS. 2020’s gonna be a wild year.

Jurgen Klinsmann is a grifter | SB Nation
Normally I have taken a strong “no Klinsmann!” line when it comes to talking about the odious former USMNT coach, but I will make an exception for this piece calling him out for his various schemes.

USL League One players join USL Players Association, will negotiate CBA | The Athletic
Hopefully this will help bring reasonable working conditions to USL players at both the Championship and League One level. Currently, things like brutally low wages and a lack of insurance are among the issues facing players at both levels.

China expose frailties but Matildas move closer to Olympics qualification | The Guardian
China essentially didn’t get to train outside of stretching and jogging around in hotel hallways after the outbreak of coronavirus forced women’s Olympic qualifying in Asia to move from Wuhan to Australia on short notice.

Despite that, and despite missing 3 key players who play for Wuhan-based clubs, they’re through to the playoff round in the AFC, where they’ll play South Korea over two legs next month for a spot in the Tokyo 2020 games. They also came within seconds of beating Australia in the group stage finale. Really impressive work, in other words, for a group that probably has a lot more on its mind right now.

Alright, that’s it. If you have a date planned for tonight, put your phone away!