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D.C. United preps for MLS is Back, NWSL Challenge Cup continues, & more: Freedom Kicks for 6/30/2020


Xavi Dussaq / Courtesy of D.C. United

I thought I’d be smart and go to bed early last night, so I’m writing this right after waking up. Because I’m also starving, let’s run through this quickly, shall we?

MLS is Back Tournament mega preview: How all 26 clubs are shaping up |
Quick previews of every team in MLS, which may or may not have a tournament to play in very soon. The D.C. United segment is more or less accurate, though I have to once again point out that United played a 433, not a 4231, in their opening games. I do think we’re going to see 4231 during MLS is Back, but with Julian Gressel on the right and Edison Flores in the middle, but that’s just an inkling rather than an observation. You know, because we can’t go to training and observe.

Armchair Analyst: Where every MLS team stands with their No. 9 |
A hot striker is going to play an outsized role in this tournament, so it’s smart to look at the situation all over the league. Ola Kamara’s hamstring has had plenty of time to heal up after an issue in week 2, so hopefully we see him at his best.

Moving over to the NWSL Challenge Cup, which picks back up today with two games:

Utah Royals FC begin NWSL Challenge Cup vs. Houston Dash | RSL Soapbox
Utah Royals FC vs. the Houston Dash is today’s mid-day game, and while I don’t think it’s going to be played at the level of the first pair of games (which through a scheduling fluke featured what are probably the 4 best teams in the league), it should be pretty interesting. Utah is trying to cope without Christen Press and have some young forwards that could make a mark, while Houston has quietly improved their roster from top to bottom.

OL Reign v. Sky Blue FC: NWSL Challenge Cup Preview | Sounder at Heart
If there’s a team that might object to the idea that the best 4 teams have already played their opener, it’s OL Reign. They’ve got great depth, and even without Megan Rapinoe they are expected to contend. Sky Blue has also improved, but pre-tournament injuries have robbed them of 3 starters. Still, there’s a dangerous team in there if they get their tactics right and stay organized.

NC Courage rookie Ally Watt unfortunately tore her ACL in the tournament’s opening game. Hopefully we’re not going to see a wave of injuries, but the shortened run-up to start playing competitive games opens the door for all kinds of things.

Stop playing the national anthem before NWSL games | All For XI
Kim McCauley lays out the very straightforward and clear case for ditching the pre-game national anthem. The NWSL said they were considering changes...and then landed on an in-between compromise position that I can’t imagine anyone will be happy about.

Jeremy Ebobisse, Justin Morrow: Black Players Coalition has entire MLS is Back Tournament to make a statement |
The Black Players Coalition of MLS (which includes Bill Hamid and Earl Edwards Jr. on its board) wants to make sure it’s not just something people are noticing on one day during MLS is Back before moving on.

I’ve Stayed Silent for Way Too Long | The Players’ Tribune
Let’s wrap up with former USWNT playmaker Lauren Holiday’s thoughtful piece on white privilege and racism that impacts her family on a regular basis.

Alright I’m even hungrier than when I started, so I’m done.