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MLS allows full-team training, Kevin Durant buys stake in Philadelphia Union, and more: Freedom Kicks for 6/5/2020

NWSL approaches their own return, while USL may have figured out theirs as well

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Xavi Dussaq / Courtesy of D.C. United

Good morning, folks. Hope you’re all doing well, whether it’s from having to go back out into a world that probably isn’t ready to re-open, or protesting a world that is brutal and unfair to far too many of us. Or, you know, even if it’s just Friday for you. All of the above. Times is tough.

Let’s get to the distractions, shall we?

Major League Soccer Clubs to Return to Full Team Training |
The training moratorium that’s lasted nearly two whole months has been lifted, but for D.C. United, today’s training session will still be small group only:

DC United Coach Ben Olsen and his team roll ahead, despite the kicks from current events | WTOP
Dave Johnson got a few minutes with Ben Olsen, talking about the protests in the District as well as the slow move towards something resembling normal work with United.

Quick teaser: we’ll have more on United in the coming days, as I spent a while chatting with Russell Canouse about the return to play and his thoughts on the MLSPA’s contentious talks with the league.

Letter to a younger me - Kaiya McCullough | D1on1
Washington Spirit rookie Kaiya McCullough has been a vital follow on Twitter as the U.S. grapples with police brutality and a history of racism, and this piece is a good introduction to why that is.

MLS is coming back, but the process to get there has left lasting scars | The Athletic
We all heard about the lockout threat from Don Garber over the weekend, but as this piece makes clear, players were feeling like that threat was already being strongly hinted at back in late April.

Atlanta United’s Larentowicz unloads on Garber, MLS | Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Plenty of players are unhappy with the league’s tactics, but no one has been as blunt as veteran (of both MLS and multiple CBA talks) Jeff Larentowicz.

Report: Kevin Durant buys minority stake in Philadelphia Union | Brotherly Game
It wasn’t that long ago that Kevin Durant was linked with interest to buy a stake in United. If reports are to be believed, he’s opting for a small share of the Philadelphia Union.

A Beginner’s Guide to the NWSL | Backline Soccer
We’re getting close enough to the NWSL’s return to play that it’s time for “here’s where everyone stands” pieces. This is a good one.

Utah is seeing a statewide ‘sharp spike’ in COVID-19 cases, state’s epidemiologist says | Salt Lake Tribune
Of course, if Utah’s coronavirus spike is not just a short-term jump, the whole thing might end up scrapped. We’re 16 days out from the day the Spirit head out, and this is a story that has to be watched closely.

USL Championship Intends to Return July 11 | Sports Illustrated
Speaking of return to play, Loudoun United may be back in action in about 5 weeks if this (still fuzzy) USL Championship plan comes to pass. They’re even talking about playing in local markets, which seems...let’s go with ambitious. It would be great if they can pull it off though.

The USL Players’ Association sounded a cautiously optimistic note about the news:

When will MLS have a U.S.-born black head coach? ‘It’s on a lot of black players’ minds’ | The Athletic
These are really bad figures for MLS as a whole, and something the league needs to address. The same goes for the rest of American pro soccer, college soccer, and so on.

With empty statements on race, many U.S. soccer clubs fail to meet the moment | The Athletic
I don’t like to quote too much from pieces to describe them, but sometimes the piece offers its thesis statement in a way that I can’t. This is one example:

“But there are still some people who think we spoke out of line or don’t need to be taking a political stance,” reflected Saaed. “To those people, I say: find another club.”

Damn right.

Alright folks, I’m out of news, so I’ll wrap it up. I’m personally thankful that the thunderstorm that roared through while I was writing this didn’t cut off my power. Be good to one another!