Hello, friends! It’s me, Adam, the long-not-so-lost former editor of this very space, and I’m subbing in for Jason this morning because there is more soccer happening than any one person should have to cover. And cover it Jason must, for this is the life he chose.
But all humans must sleep, even Jason. So I’m taking over this morning’s Freedom Kicks while he rests.
There’s only one place to start today, and that is Meg Linehan’s bombshell story detailing stomach-churning allegations against two-time NWSL Coach of the Year Paul Riley. Former players Sinead Farrelly and Mana Shim detail how Riley manipulated and coerced them, while he was their coach, into positions that made it difficult to say no to his sexual advances. Alex Morgan corroborates their telling. It’s powerful reporting and an important story that needed to be told.
Incidentally, the Athletic has broken multiple big stories like this, and they’re paying some really good journalists over there. Meg is one of them, but their stable of soccer reporters in particular is really strong. If you can afford a subscription and haven’t signed up yet, you should think about changing that to support this exact kind of journalism.
And here’s why that journalism matters: Paul Riley faced the first level of accountability today because of Meg’s reporting and courage of Sinead Farrelly and Mana Shim to come forward.
More Fallout: Riley was part of a pattern in American women’s soccer. NWSL needs to face a reckoning.
- Eniola Aluko criticises NWSL for its treatment of players’ rights — Riley was part of a pattern in American women’s soccer. NWSL needs to face a reckoning.
- NWSL players speak out amid abuse claims: ‘Burn it all down’ — Riley was part of a pattern in American women’s soccer. NWSL needs to face a reckoning.
- I’ll say it again in case it didn’t sink in or you think it was a copy paste error: Riley was part of a pattern in American women’s soccer. NWSL needs to face a reckoning.
Here’s the NWSL’s statement, which is better than I personally expected and yet still inadequate, especially since the league should have known Riley was a risk to players and nevertheless allowed him to be rehired just months after he was forced out of the Portland Thorns job.
Anyway, Riley was part of a pattern in American women’s soccer. NWSL needs to face a reckoning.
The federation also stepped in, suspending Riley’s coaching license.
As I write this Thursday night, the Washington Spirit are scheduled to play Riley’s now-former club, the North Carolina Courage this weekend. The Spirit have an interim coach because of Richie Burke’s verbal and emotional abuse of players. You know the mantra by now. Here’s what that Spirit interim coach had to say on Thursday:
Washington Spirit interim coach Kris Ward, on his and the team’s reaction to @TheAthleticSCCR story about Paul Riley/NC Courage/NWSL: (Spirit scheduled to play at NC Friday) pic.twitter.com/KSWlZZWGBw— Steven Goff (@SoccerInsider) September 30, 2021
Moving on from Paul Riley, oh look, here’s the NWSL allegedly letting a team forge a player’s signature on a contract option.
I never been harassed, but when a certain club forged my signature to fake an extended option, to gain benefits from a trade, and we submit the proof to the league they did care less. They did absolute zero. ZERO.— Nadia Nadim (@nadia_nadim) September 30, 2021
Please say it with me: Riley was part of a pattern in American women’s soccer. NWSL needs to face a reckoning.
Want to know who’s historically been good at forcing reckonings? Unions! And the players of the NWSL have one. You can support them! If you’re in a position to do so, you should donate — it’ll go twice as far when the Spirit Squadron matches it!
We are happy to announce that we will now be matching up to the first $1000 in donations to @nwsl_players. Make your donation at https://t.co/YOzCRxpbjL and DM us your amount. Get those donations rolling! https://t.co/rS2J2xGNpK— Spirit Squadron (@SpiritSquadron) October 1, 2021
Turning to men’s soccer, Los Capitalinos dominated the Loons on Wednesday night. It was pretty great.
How great? How about Andy Najar on the team of the week great?
How about Hernán Losada as coach of the week great?
Look for a new episode of our Filibuster podcast later today with a recap of that W and preview of tomorrow’s game in Orlando, where D.C. United can make sure they go into the international break riding a nine-point week.
USMNT October World Cup qualifying roster revealed — Stars & Stripes FC
And speaking of that FIFA window, here’s our own Donald Wine II talking about Paul Arriola and a bunch of other people who will wear red, white, and blue in the USMNT’s three World Cup qualifiers over the next two weeks.
Raphael Wicky out as Chicago Fire head coach — Hot Time in Old Town
Elsewhere in MLS, Wicky had to have known he was on the hot seat, even with the pandemic and other circumstances around the team. But I bet it came as a surprise when he got the ax immediately after a 2-0 win over a likely playoffs-bound NYCFC.
Sources: FC Cincinnati Set to Appoint Chris Albright as General Manager — The Post (Cincinnati)
Another team in need of (yet another) reset appears to be making moves. Actually, really making moves. There might be a competent future for FC Cincinnati yet!
Every Major League Soccer team was in action on Wednesday night. Yes, all 27 teams — an odd number, and a record — because the Crew were playing the one-off Campeones Cup over Liga MX champs Cruz Azul. The Crew, probably the disappointment of the year in MLS, based on preseason expectations, technically got to lift a trophy in 2021. Clearly Caleb Porter should be coach of the year. This is sarcasm, please do not come for me.
Okay, reader. You’ve made it to the end of this, the first Friday Freedom Kicks of October 2021. Longtime readers will know what’s coming, because Jason loves him one thing in particular about this month.
So, on Jason’s behalf, I was working in the lab late last night on this special treat for you. I do hope you enjoy it, and the weekend. Be good, and get into a reasonable amount of trouble.