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D.C. United ends pay-to-play, NWSL reschedules Portland Thorns vs. OL Reign, and more: Freedom Kicks for 9/15/2020

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Good news off the field from United, plus Diego Maradona’s unusual stint in Canada

New York City FC v DC United Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

Good morning! There isn’t a ton to catch up on from yesterday, but here’s what I’ve got:

D.C. United Announce Update to Academy Programming | DCUnited.com
Julian Gressel got to announce the big news: D.C. United’s academy is no longer pay-to-play. Players previously had to pay fees ranging between $1,500 and $2,500 per season, which means the club is most likely choosing to do the right thing at a financial loss. I know there’s a lot of speculation about transfer fees and solidarity payments making up for it, but they already got to keep transfer fees, and solidarity payments are very small for the most part.

We also got some interesting word when it comes to refereeing assignments:

Tori Penso has been an AR for quite a while, so she’s earned the opportunity. It is, however, odd that PRO apparently has refereeing assignments sorted out this far in advance, but is only announcing who will referee a given game the day of said game (or, in the case of United’s game at Red Bull Arena, changing the assignment and not even announcing it before kickoff).

Anyway, while we’re talking about things Pablo Maurer put out on the internet yesterday, make absolutely sure you have time to read his piece about the time Diego Maradona played in the Canadian National Soccer League. Trust me, it’s worth it.

Here’s Thierry Henry on his experience with racism both as a player in Europe and here in the U.S.:

OL Reign game at Portland postponed again due to smoke hazard | Sounder at Heart
The NWSL had rescheduled OL Reign’s game at the Portland Thorns from Saturday to today due to the air quality resulting from the hellish wildfires out west, and with the situation not improving fast enough to make the game viable, they’ve moved it back to the end of the month. It’s the right call, and unlike in years past (where NWSL waited until teams were both in the venue before making the choice) it happened well enough in advance that no one risked travel during Covid-19 only to have to turn around and go home.

Taco Bell introduces Jalapeno Noir to its menu | ABC 7
The wordplay is a 6 out of 10 at best (“jalapeño noir” instead of pinot noir is a big reach), but if Taco Bell charges Taco Bell prices (that is, $1.75), I will one day order a Large Wine to go with my nacho double stack taco or whatever.

Alright that’s it from me. It’s supposed to be nice out today, so enjoy it if you can!