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D.C. United SuperDraft, USWNT vs. Colombia, and more: Freedom Kicks for 1/21/2021

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Yesterday was busy! Today will be busy!

Courtesy of Clemson Athletics

Good morning! Freedom Kicks are early because we have some thoughts on D.C. United’s draft coming up at 9am, and Hernán Losada will be speaking to media at 11am. To avoid an information pile-up, this is running early.

Also, I hope this makes sense, because I’m writing it with Draft Brain, a condition that can end with incoherent thoughts or trailing off into...uh...you know the thing where you have nothing else to say but can’t conclude your thought? Right.

So let’s do this!

2021 MLS SuperDraft: D.C. United select Clemson striker Kimarni Smith, Wake Forest defender Mike DeShields | Black and Red United
Yours truly delivered the blow-by-blow as United took players that weren’t really on my radar for our picks, or anyone else’s really.

Here’s the scene at Clemson from when United picked Kimarni Smith at #4:

In first round of MLS draft, D.C. United doubles up on ACC talent | Washington Post
Drafting players from the ACC, Maryland, or Stanford is generally speaking a good idea for a team, as United has often shown, and that’s how yesterday played out. Steve Goff’s got quotes from Dave Kasper here, so it’s good context on why they did what they did.

MLS SuperDraft 2021 Grades: Rating every team’s picks | MLSsoccer.com
Travis Clark seems to think United is doing some big-time gambling with their picks, though he did think getting Logan Panchot in the second round was tidy business.

Meanwhile, the MLS labor talks are continuing to play out in public, an unusual situation given that the league has almost always kept the contentious stuff restricted to the conference call with players.

If the sides can’t agree on whether they should be moving fast or not, it seems hard to believe they’ll quickly agree to actual terms.

Anyway, good luck to my fellow laborers. Stick it to the bosses!

When is standing for the US anthem still a problem? | All for XI
André Carlisle doesn’t want me to say this, but his perspective here is really vital, and this piece is excellent. But I said it! It’s good!

USA vs Colombia: what to watch for in the second friendly | Stars and Stripes FC
Speaking of the USWNT, they play again tonight at 7pm, and it sounds like there’s going to be some real rotation in the lineup. Here’s hoping that means more time for Emily Sonnett, Andi Sullivan, and Aubrey Bledsoe. It also sounds like Ali Krieger may get the start at right back over Kelley O’Hara, but KO’s spot on the team is really solid so nothing to fret about there.

Before the game, make sure you watch this video about Catarina Macario’s path to playing for the USWNT. Get in on the ground floor, because she’s good enough to take over the dang world:

Report: Japan, IOC may cancel Olympics | Stars and Stripes FC
Well that’s not a lot of fun, but it does make a lot of sense if that’s how it goes. The shift might have a major impact on the Washington Spirit, who would likely be without somewhere between two and seven players (mostly with the USWNT, but don’t forget Kumi Yokoyama and Saori Takarada) if they do actually have an Olympic tournament this year.

USL nearing historic first collective bargaining agreement with players association | The Athletic
Details on some rather less hostile talks between a soccer league and its players.

USL Championship Announces 2021 Season Format | USLChampionship.com
Speaking of the USL, Loudoun United and the rest of the Championship will be playing a 32-game schedule, with the league splitting into four divisions in what is likely an effort to both reduce Covid-19 risks and to reduce travel costs after 2020 did a number on team finances across the league.

The fact that they’ve already made their move, rather than waiting for MLS to go first, counts as a surprise in my book. This schedule is looking to the end of April or early May as a start date, for what it’s worth, and MLS might want to consider doing the same.

Well I’m out of links, so I guess it’s time to go to bed. Hope you have a nice Friday!