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D.C. United transfer rumors, Paige Nielsen to Angel City FC, and more: Freedom Kicks for 12/17/2021

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We’re staying entirely in the DMV with soccer news today, as Paul Arriola appears to be staying in town

Nikita Taparia

Good afternoon! D.C. United was in the news on multiple fronts yesterday, the Washington Spirit lost a fixture of their squad to the NWSL Expansion Draft, and Trinity Rodman was recognized for being really friggin’ good. Let’s talk about it:

We start with United pouring a 5 gallon bucket of cold water on those Paul Arriola-to-LA Galaxy rumors. Beyond Arriola’s California links, the proposal didn’t really make a lot of sense, with Arriola stylistically much more of a Hernán Losada sort of player than a Greg Vanney player.

However, the rumors surrounding Arriola apparently aren’t completely out of steam:

Silly season is upon us, I guess.

Let’s get into more concrete possibilities:

Ted Ku-DiPietro came up through the academy, but didn’t quite convince the club to give him a homegrown deal at the age MLS clubs often opt for them. Good on him for turning the chance at Loudoun into a deal after all. It’s also no accident, as Ku-DiPietro was one of the best players in the USL Championship last season.

NWSL Expansion Draft: Spirit lose Paige Nielsen to Angel City FC | Black and Red United
The Spirit lost Paige Nielsen to Angel City FC last night in the NWSL expansion draft. It’s not great news, as is the case with any expansion draft. Nielsen’s a tough loss, both on and off the field. Plus, who will step up and fill the gun show vibes?

However, narrowing the view to purely about roster build: Given that Washington has Saori Takarada and Karina Rodríguez as depth at center back, they were probably better set up to lose a player at that position than most others.

The news is bad. Let’s have some good news to balance it out:

Frankly a little surprised that Rodman didn’t just win (Catarina Macario is playing regularly for Lyon, after all), but won by a wide margin. But, I think it’s the right call, especially given the relative strength of NWSL as compared to D1F.

“To see my name alongside the list of amazing players who have won this award in the past is unbelievable,” said Rodman in a release from U.S. Soccer. “It’s an honor to receive this award from U.S. Soccer and our amazing fanbase. This year was a journey for me both mentally and physically as I settled into my new life as a professional. I want to thank my family, teammates, coaching and medical staffs for everything they have done for me on and off the field. It truly takes a village. I am so incredibly proud of what my Spirit teammates and I accomplished this season, and I would be humbled to get an opportunity to play for the U.S. again and represent our country in 2022.”

The NWSL chaos attached to the expansion draft continued into today, thanks in part to a brief trade window opening at a time different from the one stated publicly, and that closes at 8pm tonight, and then opens again for tomorrow’s draft:

I’m wiped out just reading that.

OK that’s what I had. Enjoy the spring-in-December weather this afternoon, winter will be back very soon!