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25th anniversary of MLS’s first-ever game, plus notes on D.C. United, Washington Spirit, & Loudoun United: Freedom Kicks for 4/7/2020

Nostalgia! And also, bribery involving FIFA.

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United V Clash Getty Images

Guess who stayed up too late playing old video games before hitting the sack? Well, it’s me. I’m playing Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, and it apparently robbed me of knowing what day it was, which is why this post is coming out near lunchtime rather than just as most of us are starting our days.

Anyway, yesterday was the 25th anniversary of the first MLS game of all time, which is to say the 25th anniversary of the first time any of us saw D.C. United play a soccer game. United lost to the San Jose Clash 1-0, but what I remember was that the result didn’t really matter to me. Sitting on the floor in front of the TV in a living room in a house my family would be moving out of about two months later, what I remember realizing was that this — sitting down to watch my team, a team from where I live, play on TV and in person was now going to be a regular thing. It wasn’t going to be something that comes around once or twice a summer when the USMNT plays at RFK, and it wasn’t going to be having to settle for indoor soccer. This was the real thing.

First up, here’s Dave Johnson (another 1996 original) talking about the big day. If you’re wondering what being a soccer fan was like back in the day, definitely give this a listen.

How DC United and the San Jose Clash got their names and original look |
One team got it right. The other, not so much.

Armchair Analyst: A trip back in time to remember 1996 | Mailbag |
More nostalgia! And Matt Doyle’s right, the shootout was not actually as good as everyone wants to say it is.

Here’s more perspective on that first year from Kevin Payne, who established a strong culture at United straight out of the gate:

The royal treatment: How San Jose came to embrace its MLS team in 1996 | Center Line Soccer
Some perspective from the other side of that first game.

A Balancing Act for D.C. United’s Chris Seitz | Washington City Paper
Moving up to today, Chris Seitz has a lot on his plate right now: rehabbing a quad injury, helping herd 5 kids around without child care being an option for the moment, and doing his MBA.

Which players, teams are high pressing? Data suggests Alan Pulido could be perfect fit |
After two games, Opta has United in 7th overall in terms of the number of high presses attempted.

The Washington Spirit are doing their first-ever coach’s show this evening, and they’re bringing on a special guest:

USL eCup: Rocket League Edition – Matchday 4 |
Loudoun United’s Brandon Williamson won fairly handily once again, meaning that he’ll definitely be in the knockout round of this thing that I definitely understand and know a lot about. Here are the standings heading into the final games in the group stage:

MLS Year One, 25 seasons ago: The ‘Wild West’ of training, travel, hockey shootouts and American soccer | ESPN
I’ve heard a lot of the wild stories in here, but the one about how referee assignments were handled was brand new to me. 1996 MLS was basically like showing up to school without having done your homework the night before, and just trying to get something done, or stalling, or otherwise scheming just to have something to turn in.

Fox executives alleged to have bribed FIFA, gotten inside info for World Cup bid | The Athletic
Shocked! Shocking news! Very shocked!

Alright that’s it. I know we say this just about every day, but I really hope you’re all doing well, staying healthy, and are finding ways to get through everything that’s going on.