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D.C. United preps for Toronto FC, Dest chooses between Barca and Bayern, and more: Freedom Kicks for 9/18/2020

The Spirit have a cookie expert in their ranks, and highlights from an inexplicable Europa League qualifier

New York City FC v D.C. United

Good morning! This post is a few minutes late already, so I’m just going to get to the soccer. I promise there’s a treat at the end.

DC United’s Ben Olsen and Julian Gressel agree: There’s a lot more to come from the ex-Atlanta United man |
Julian Gressel was a main focus from yesterday’s pre-game press conference, with D.C. United believing they can get more out of him playing where he did against the Red Bulls.

D.C. United #KickChildhoodCancer |
Chris Odoi-Atsem, Chris Seitz, Steven Birnbaum, Frederic Brillant, and Donovan Pines took time yesterday to pack and load boxes of care packages for patients at Children’s National Medical Center.

Speaking of good causes, Dave Johnson is hosting the Ambassadors Ball to help the fight against multiple sclerosis:

Jessie Scarpa knows how to maximize her opportunities |
Injuries have kept Washington Spirit attacker Jessie Scarpa off the field often enough that she’s only just been ready to play short cameos in the NWSL Fall Series, but she’s managed to win a penalty and score a stoppage-time game-winner despite entering her first two pro games in the 84th and 88th minutes, respectively.

The Spirit’s podcast spoke to Aubrey Bledsoe yesterday, and got into the weeds...on cookies.

Major League Soccer, Black Players for Change and MLS Players Association Team Up to Launch MLS Unites to Vote |
Earl Edwards Jr. told us three weeks ago that MLS needed to start taking action, and this partnership to launch a voter registration drive (along with a decision for the league office and US-based club facilities to close on Election Day) sound like a step in that direction.

USWNT defender Purce: ‘No limit’ to what athletes can achieve in racial justice fight – but silence of some is ‘telling’ |
It’s rough to hear Black players from around the NWSL note that they have had to take on the burden of educating teammates, and on occasions they’ve either gone unheard or been brushed off.

Maryland businesswoman leading launch of Japanese league | Associated Press
The WE League is set to launch starting next year in Japan, bringing true professionalism to a country that has gone too long without it in women’s soccer, and the chairwoman heading it up lives in Baltimore. BRB, gonna go ask if she’s hiring.

Barca or Bayern? Sergiño Dest is about to join one of the world’s biggest clubs | Stars and Stripes FC
USMNT players being targeted by the biggest clubs in the world. Feels weird!

Also weird: releasing a new away kit for your women’s national team, but not making it in women’s sizes at all.

Romano: deal done, Bale and Reguilon to be introduced as Tottenham players on Friday | Cartilage Free Captain
Gareth Bale’s move back to Tottenham Hotspur appears to be settled enough that the announcement is due today.

Let’s finish up with a game that featured numerous stoppage-time goals, red cards, and goals by a team playing with 10...and even 9 men. The highlight package for this Europa League qualifier between FCSB and Backa Topola is 15 minutes, just to give you an idea.