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MLS reacts to COVID-19, plus D.C. United, Washington Spirit, & USWNT news: Freedom Kicks for 3/11/2020

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A blast from DCU past, Spirit open preseason, and coronavirus is having an impact

AC Milan v Genoa CFC - Serie A Photo by Marco Luzzani/Getty Images

Yesterday saw late spring weather, a little D.C. United news, some more Washington Spirit news (it was the first day of preseason), and plenty of developments on how MLS will deal with COVID-19. Let’s get to it!

First up, an extremely cool video from United’s first season, with Marco Etcheverry scoring a (right-footed!) banger:

Team of the Week presented by Audi: Sporting KC, Atlanta United and Minnesota United dominate Week 2 | MLSsoccer.com
Frederic Brillant got the nod from the league site.

What we learned from Week 2 of the 2020 MLS regular season | 26 Takeaways | MLSsoccer.com
I don’t really disagree with any of this, save maybe for being a bit more positive about Erik Sorga. United won, but we’re still waiting on a good performance out of this group.

Cheyna Matthews steps away from Washington Spirit, while goalkeeper Devon Kerr signs | Black and Red United
Cheyna Matthews will be taking at least the next couple of months off from the Spirit, who are giving her paid leave despite NWSL rules not requiring it. Alex Morgan is among the people in favor of that choice:

Washington Spirit announce initial 2020 NWSL preseason roster | Black and Red United
It was a busy day for the Spirit, who have 25 players under contract, leaving them with one open spot for six trialists.

On a day of empowerment, ‘ill-timed’ U.S. Soccer letter adds to players’ resolve | The Athletic
US Soccer releasing a statement on International Women’s Day about a proposal that will not grant equal pay was deeply unpopular with the USWNT. Who would have thought!

And yesterday, the legal battle continued as the lawyers for the players released their rebuttal to the USSF’s move to have the lawsuit dismissed. Open this up for the full thread from Meg Linehan:

Meanwhile, as the USWNT arrives in Texas ahead of their SheBelieves Cup finale tomorrow, Vlatko Andonovski is out here unloading trucks:

In less good news, MLS is among four leagues who have decided to close locker rooms to media due to COVID-19:

I’m not sure what to think of this. I’ve read about how locker rooms make for excellent petri dishes, but ultimately a handful of reporters talking to a handful of players is less of an issue than 20,000 people getting together in the same building, right?

MLS coronavirus plans: Closed locker rooms, postponements could be coming | The Athletic
Shortly before that announcement, Sam Stejskal reported that the move was under consideration, and that MLS would prefer to postpone games rather than play without spectators, which...yeah, that seems like a good idea, but only if we think that COVID-19 is going to be a problem for a few weeks rather than months. I’m not exactly optimistic about this whole thing wrapping up any time soon, so MLS (and every other league) have to keep thinking about what they’re going to do here.

Santa Clara County bans gatherings of 1,000-plus after first death | ESPN
This is in place for the rest of March, and I’m starting to think that United’s next home game (4/3 vs. NYCFC) might end up subject to a similar ban that isn’t even in MLS’s control. Things are moving quickly.

Concacaf Nations League playoff dates, locations set | Stars and Stripes FC
Ah yes, Texas in June, a great setting if you want to melt play soccer.

2020 Utah Royals home kit leak | RSL Soapbox
The embossed mountain pattern seems like a cool idea, but the Utah Royals going from being NWSL’s only predominantly yellow team to one of several wearing blue...not sure I’m into it. We’ll see what the whole thing looks like soon.

Kickers announce enhancements to City Stadium | RichmondKickers.com
The first major upgrades since 1994 will make for a better gameday experience at City Stadium.

Officially official: Serie A play suspended due to coronavirus | Black White & Read All Over
Like I said, things are moving fast. Serie A is going to stop playing games until at least April 3.

That’s all I’ve got. Happy Tuesday!