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Ashlyn Harris, Ali Krieger to Gotham FC?, MLS Best XI, and more: Freedom Kicks for 12/3/2021

The domestic soccer news is non-stop out here

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Kelley Piper / Black and Red United

Good morning! I regret to inform you that I have fired up Football Manager for the first time this year. Starting below the English professional leagues with Ebbsfleet United, and right out of the gate I have infuriated the team captain by selling our 32-year-old right back to a team in League One. This is a game I...enjoy? Or that I subject myself to, anyway.

And now that you’re about to leave, here are the links:

Let’s start with good news: The MLSPA is involved with with an initiative to build ten new mini-pitches at D.C. public schools.

And here’s more good news: while we don’t yet know the USMNT roster for this December camp, it’s been widely reported to be heavy on domestic players. Based on social media posts, D.C. United’s Kevin Paredes and Moses Nyeman happened to be at a basketball game with Ricardo Pepi who it seems safe to assume is getting called in...which might mean the DCU homegrown duo are in camp as well. We’ll find out later this morning, but the signs are good.

In some bad news, our thoughts are with former United striker Abdul Thompson Conteh, who announced yesterday that he’s suffering from pancreatic cancer:

The Washington Spirit Won an Improbable NWSL Title. More Challenges Lie Ahead. | Washington City Paper
Kelyn Soong with a look here at how, now that we’re past the party phase for your NWSL champion Washington Spirit, there are difficult times ahead. Turns out the extraordinary chaos of this season doesn’t just clean itself up, and there’s plenty of off-field work to do at the club.

Meanwhile, Spirit attacker Mariana Speckmaier is now an international goalscorer, coming off the bench to equalize for Venezuela (who went on to beat India 2-1 in Brazil’s wonderfully named Cuadrangular Internacional tournament).

Gotham FC to acquire Ali Krieger, Ashlyn Harris from Orlando Pride in trade: Sources | The Athletic
Staying in NWSL, with the trade freeze coming up at 1pm Eastern today, expect things to stay wild. Yesterday, news broke that Ali Krieger and Ashlyn Harris are apparently heading to Gotham FC in a move that seems to point at a further move in New Jersey. As of now, Gotham has a Best 11 goalkeeper in Kailen Sheridan, another goalkeeper in DiDi Haracic that seems sure to end up a starter elsewhere after impressing this year, and a seemingly established back four (though I will say, the depth behind that back four is very, very shallow).

Chicago Red Stars trade 6 players — including Julie Ertz and Sarah Gorden — but several questions remain less than 2 weeks after Rory Dames’ resignation amid abuse allegations | Chicago Tribune
The Chicago Red Stars are facing an exodus of sorts, though it seems like at least some of their moves are planned. Julie Ertz and Sarah Gorden are both off to Angel City FC, Nikki Stanton is going to OL Reign, and three players (Katie Johnson, Makenzy Doniak, and potential College Cup MVP Kelsey Turnbow) have been shipped to San Diego.

Turnbow, by the way, is still in college because of last year’s Covid-19 rules allowing drafted players to stay in school, and is someone I think is going to make a big difference for the Wave next season.

2021 MLS Best XI |
I don’t think this is a great Best XI to be honest, but the league is too big to expect good voting from enough people to craft a good one. No United players are on the list, but if it’s me, Julian Gressel is in here ahead of Tajon Buchanan given that he was a) the best wingback in the league this year, and b) backed by data.

Also, while I’m not sure I’d push as hard for Ola Kamara, he had a better year with a lesser supporting cast than Raul Ruídiaz.

Top MLS 2021 Best XI snubs |
Instead of continuing to moan about Black-and-Red snubs, I’ll back Andrew Wiebe on the defensive end with his shoutout for Andreu Fontàs and Damir Kreilach. Put them in for Miles Robinson, remove Ruídiaz, move Mukhtar to where he played most of the season (he’s a forward in MLS in 2021, how did this midfield listing happen?), and insert Kreilach. That’s closer to the real deal.

CSP Fall Fundraiser to Start Kids Classes in 2022 |
Finally, a request from me: one of my oldest friends founded a non-profit in Baltimore called Capoeira Social Project that aims to benefit underprivileged youth, and they’re holding a fundraising auction featuring art and some uncommon Brazilian soccer jerseys. If you have the means, please consider bidding.

OK that’s it. Enjoy what’s going to be a hectic day in terms of soccer news!