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MLS is Back Tournament drops Nashville SC as Philadelphia, New England win, NWSL Challenge Cup updates, and more: Freedom Kicks for 7/10/2020

Protests, iffy performances, surprise stars, and cleaners are all on our mind today

Matthew Stith and Devin L’Amoreaux / Courtesy of Major League Soccer

I made the mistake of staying up to watch the movie Blow, which when it came out I thought was pretty good, if not a classic. Seeing it again, it’s just a clumsy attempt at doing a Goodfellas for the Colombian drug trade with some Boogie Nights thrown in. Getting older, getting wiser I guess.

And now that we’ve gotten the confusing introduction out of the way, soccer:

D.C. United Introduces Events DC Jersey Sponsorship for MLS is Back Tournament |
D.C. United Featuring Gainbridge as Sponsor for MLS is Back Tournament |
D.C. United’s kits will have some extra sponsors for the MLS is Back Tournament, which probably helped some people keep their jobs, so that’s a plus in my book.

Meanwhile, one of the club’s academy coaches is heading to Austin FC.

Spirit Spotlight: Sam Staab’s Challenge Cup impact |
Washington Spirit center back Sam Staab has more goals than fouls at the NWSL Challenge Cup.

I posted a couple of threads on Twitter of quotes from the team’s post-training availability, where Tegan McGrady and Bayley Feist both answered questions.

Nashville SC withdrawn from MLS is Back Tournament: Here’s how the groups and schedule change |
Nashville SC, as expected, had to drop out of the MLS is Back Tournament. The Chicago Fire are now in Group B, all six groups have four teams, and there were some schedule changes (none with United, though).

Blake saves, Bedoya goal leads Philadelphia Union to first win of 2020 | Brotherly Game
NYCFC 0, Philadelphia 1: It’s Time to Panic! | Hudson River Blue
The Philadelphia Union won a potentially big game over NYCFC, and they did so with a surprise on their kits, as they chose to honor victims of police brutality by wearing their names (rather than player names) on their backs.

Thierry Henry: “No need to talk about tactics” in Montreal Impact’s poor opening performance |
Thierry Henry says they didn’t have enough fight, which is fair, but it wasn’t just about that. The Montreal Impact’s somewhat unusual tactics did not work, and despite the New England Revolution only creating sporadic big chances (they had a ton of shots, but most of them were no-hopers from long range), it became clear early that there was only ever going to be one winner in the other game in United’s group.

On the other hand, Henry used the occasion to participate in something bigger than sports, kneeling for the first 8:46 of the game in honor of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement.

Life inside the MLS bubble, where COVID-19 and comfort clash | Yahoo Sports
Some interesting stuff in here, and it sounds like MLS players are just as scattered about how they feel about the tournament as everyone on the outside.

Black Players for Change demonstration marks deep shift, but there’s more to be done |
More on the Black Players for Change and their pre-game display before the opening game of MLS is Back, including what they’ve done already and what they plan to do.

The MVP of the NWSL Challenge Cup? A family cleaning business hit hard by the pandemic | Equalizer Soccer
The story of who’s doing the cleaning at the Challenge Cup is all over NWSL social media thanks to players sending their thanks to the family-run cleaning company.

Jennifer Cudjoe has her breakout star performance | All For XI
Sky Blue had two of the worst performances of the entire Challenge Cup, but then they moved new midfielder Jennifer Cudjoe (who was playing semi-pro soccer at this time last year) into a more attacking role, and suddenly they got a win and showed they can compete.