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MLS suspended through mid-May, Aubrey Bledsoe in W-League Grand Final, and more: Freedom Kicks for 3/20/2020

The latest on COVID-19’s impact on American soccer, plus an update on D.C. United’s post-game guitar giveaways

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Kelley Piper / Black and Red United

Hi folks, hope you’re doing well this morning. We have very little soccer to discuss, but there was a good deal of soccer-adjacent news yesterday. Let’s get into it:

MLS extends suspension of play due to COVID-19 into May | Black and Red United
We’d all been expecting this news. MLS is going to follow the CDC recommendation and suspend play through May 10. It’s the responsible move, but we could all use some soccer to serve as a distraction from what feels like a lot of tough times for a lot of people.

MLS continues to insist they want to play the full 34 game schedule. I really hope the circumstances allow it, but I wouldn’t bet a single cent on it.

MLS Classics schedule: How to watch old matches, what’s in store |
Last night MLS showed D.C. United’s 3-2 win over Orlando City from 2018, and it was fun. Here’s the remaining schedule, which will include the legendary 2004 Eastern Conference Final in a few days.

Down in Australia, Washington Spirit goalkeeper Aubrey Bledsoe is playing in her third straight W-League final with Sydney FC this weekend (if you stay up late tomorrow night, it’ll be on at 12:25am on Sunday tonight, it’s on ESPN+ at 12:25am). Here she is previewing the game, which is going to be one of the last pro soccer games anywhere for a while:

The 5 MLS academy coaches ready to make the jump to the first team |
Our friend Travis Clark has a shoutout for DCU under-17 coach Nate Baker right off the top here.

Speaking of United’s academy, former Homegrown midfielder Antonio Bustamante has signed with Blooming in the Bolivian league:

Whenever MLS restarts, playing a full season presents enormous challenges | The Athletic
Here’s more on the sheer difficulty of MLS getting 34 games in this year. Pushing the playoffs back helps...but it also might impact when the start of the 2021 season is. Cutting non-MLS competitions is pretty much essential, sponsorship concerns pop up, and teams that share a stadium with another team (like United, who have already booked four Spirit games at Audi Field).

What I’m trying to say is that there’s a lot in this piece.

New York City FC Sporting Department Confirms First Case of COVID-19 |
Very few team employees have tested positive so far, but we’re still a long way from the top of the curve nationwide. Here’s hoping this employee, and everyone else, makes a full recovery.

Ranking MLS’s best gimmicks | The Athletic
A fun discussion, and let me confirm what is speculated early in this piece: United is no longer giving out guitars to the player the team declares Man of the Match. I asked after the last game, which was less than two weeks ago but feels like a memory from 2011.

No reason given for the change, which I have to say, I lament. The guitars made no sense, but it’s the weird stuff that people remember.

Building a better USMNT together using ‘Football Manager’ | SB Nation
I’m really looking forward to watching this play out. It’s a FM challenge I’ve never taken on.

‘Where Are the Leaders in Our Federation?’ Jesse Marsch’s Impassioned Plea for U.S. Soccer | Sports Illustrated
Jesse Marsch really nails it when talking about US Soccer’s approach to the USWNT suit, among other things.

Jack Rose Is Selling Off One of the World’s Largest Whiskey Collections | Washingtonian
Money is tight for me, but if you’re looking to break your isolation to get some booze, this is a pretty good deal and a good way to support a local business.

That’s all I’ve got. My weekend plans, as we all avoid socializing, include finally watching The Revenant, and to go for a long walk. Let me know in the comments what you’re doing to keep your spirits up.