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D.C. United gets MLS is Back draw, Washington Spirit lose Andi Sullivan to injury, and more: Freedom Kicks for 7/14/2020

A minor miracle down in Orlando, plus the NWSL Challenge Cup knockout bracket

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MLS: D.C. United at Toronto FC Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports

It’s Tuesday! Did you know it was Tuesday? Well, I forgot it was going to be Tuesday last night, and only just realized it, so you’re getting Freedom Kicks that are a couple hours late.

Let’s start with something important: La Barra Brava are holding an auction to benefit Big Rob and his fight against cancer:

Stunning late show gives 10-man D.C. United 2-2 draw against Toronto FC | Black and Red United
The inevitably weird MLS is Back opener for D.C. United was, in fact, weird. Can’t say they played well, but we got some positive signs from Federico Higuain and Kevin Paredes, and a point against the best team in Group C.

Here are more recaps from Waking the Red, the Washington Post, and MLSsoccer.com. United also made some MLS history, as this was the first time in at least 13 years that a team down a man and down 2 goals had managed to avoid defeat:

Off the field, the player that had the positive coronavirus test on Sunday has had two negative tests, and as such has cleared MLS quarantine:

Washington Spirit lose Andi Sullivan to torn meniscus | Black and Red United
Really bad news for Andi Sullivan and the Washington Spirit. I think they still have a viable path to the NWSL Challenge Cup final, as you can see from the bracket below, but losing one of the best players in the league is tough no matter how you slice it.

On the Spirit and the NWSL bracket: North Carolina’s 2-0 win over Sky Blue was just enough to push Sky Blue into a four-way tie between teams on 4 points and -1 goal difference. Goals scored separated Houston (4th place) and Utah (5th place), but the difference between Chicago and Sky Blue came down to disciplinary points.

Good and bad news for the Washington Spirit | All For XI
Here’s more on the Spirit, who got excellent performances from Bayley Feist and Dorian Bailey in their preliminary round finale. Neither is a straightforward Sullivan replacement, but it’s good that Richie Burke has options.

Davy Arnaud joins Austin FC as assistant coach, reuniting with former teammate Josh Wolff | Austin American-Statesman
The Ben Olsen coaching tree is slowly consolidating in Austin.

Parent life in the NWSL Challenge Cup bubble | All For XI
Being a player at the Challenge Cup is tough, but being a player who has a child to look after? As the league’s moms spell out, it’s very difficult.

Why NWSL’s ‘foundational’ statement on Pride matters right now | The Athletic
The shift within the NWSL from being broadly friendly towards the idea of a Pride Month to making it a huge part of league culture is a big one indeed.

The Rise and Fall of Anzhi Makhachkala | Breaking The Lines
In my very outdated version of Football Manager, Anzhi Makhachkala is occasionally a competitor in the transfer market that always has more money than I do, but in reality, they’ve gone from being able to afford Roberto Carlos, Samuel Eto’o, and Guus Hiddink to being in the 3rd division.

And that’s it for me. I’ve got grass to cut.