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Thierry Henry leaves Montreal, D.C. United & Washington Spirit news, and more: Freedom Kicks for 2/26/2021

Surprise developments, transfer rumors, and Rasputin await within

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MLS: Toronto FC at Montreal Impact Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning! I fell asleep with this not done, so it’s now mid-morning instead of first thing. There’s some D.C. United transfer news and important Washington Spirit notes to get to, so without further adieu, let’s get into it.

If United is arranging an in-person meeting on top of traveling to see Nigel Robertha play in person, it sounds like they’re really trying to sell him on the idea of this move. My read on this move is that it’s sort of in-between two different ideas of what the team should be doing, but they’re pretty into making it happen if they’re going this far. We’ll see if they can convince the 23-year-old forward to come over from Levski Sofia or not.

If you want more on that Robertha take from me, plus an interview with Russell Canouse and some analysis of other Black-and-Red news, we got into it in the latest episode of Filibuster. Plus, we talked about Rasputin.

USMNT Olympic roster projection: An early look at possible picks for Tokyo | The Athletic
This intersects with United when the subject of center backs comes up, as Donovan Pines is pursuing an Olympic roster spot at a crowded position. We should have more on this topic here over the weekend, so there’s your teaser of the day.

Ranking which new MLS coaches have the toughest job in 2021 |
I’m not sure I agree with a lot of this list — Inter Miami are a profoundly unserious team who hired Phil Neville because his buddy owns the team, which is not exactly a high-pressure gig — but some thoughts from outside the DCU bubble on the job Hernán Losada is walking into.

Washington Spirit announce 2021 NWSL allocated players | Black and Red United
It was pretty much expected that Kelley O’Hara and Emily Sonnett would be allocated players, but Andi Sullivan’s status was less certain. It’s a big statement about the USWNT’s plans for her, and having three players on the USSF payroll opens up some room to hand out some larger contracts to the rest of the roster.

Washington Spirit and Shenandoah University Announce New Partnership to Benefit Spirit Players, Shenandoah Students and Faculty and the Community |
The Spirit are very excited about this program, which will give players tuition-free access to undergrad, graduate, and certificate programs. Aubrey Bledsoe and Paige Nielsen are already taking advantage in a program that seems broadly similar to a program MLS has had for a few years, but it’s something Washington has set up for themselves.

Well, that’s not quite how I thought this was going to work out. “The rumors” here are that Las Vegas Lights FC would become LAFC’s USL affiliate, which would mean Steve Cherundolo’s pursuit of a coaching gig in the states is apparently going to end up in Sin City.

Red Bulls’ Kaku saga and the murky matter of contract option years |
Since the groundbreaking Camilo-to-Queretaro transfer battle back in 2014, players who want a move strongly enough have decided MLS’s unilateral contract option year system doesn’t necessarily hold up strongly enough to prevent moves abroad. Kaku is just the latest player to make their desired transfer happen, and once again the MLS club on the other side seems to have few actual methods to enforce the option year.

Henry Gone!!!!! | Mount Royal Soccer
Those exclamation points sum it up: Thierry Henry has stepped down as (ugh) CF Montreal’s head coach, citing the inability to see his family regularly enough during what will likely be another season spent stuck in the U.S. due to Covid-19 border regulations.

Alright, it’s time to make a little coffee, so let’s wrap it up. Enjoy your Friday!