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NWSL Players Demand Protection & Accountability, and Other Soccer News: Friday Freedom Kicks

Journalism is important, and lots is happening in the world of D.C. United and American soccer

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Portland Thorns FC v Western New York Flash Photo by Rich Barnes/Getty Images

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.

‘This guy has a pattern’: Amid institutional failure, former NWSL players accuse prominent coach of sexual coercion — The Athletic

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.

NWSL coach Paul Riley fired after allegations of sexual coercion by multiple former players: Live updates and reaction — The Athletic

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.

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:

Moving on from Paul Riley, oh look, here’s the NWSL allegedly letting a team forge a player’s signature on a contract option.

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!

D.C. United post fourth straight home win in 3-1 victory over Minnesota United — B&RU

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!

Three takeaways from Columbus Crew’s Campeones Cup win over Cruz Azul — MLSsoccer

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.