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MLS labor talks, D.C. United news, FC Cincinnati makes moves, and more: Freedom Kicks for 2/5/2021

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Tori Huster talks Spirit preseason, while United gets close to signing a draft pick

Lucas Muller / Courtesy of RSL Soapbox

Good morning! It’s very dreary outside, but it feels like it’s going to be a little warmer so I’m looking forward to taking a walk and seeing something other than the inside of my house. Small victories during a pandemic.

Let’s get to the big news:

One more day to get something done, which strikes both me and people who know more about labor negotiations than me as a sign we’re gonna have a league that starts on time. I worry that it’s going to cost the players a lot, which is bad.

Let’s go for some good to balance out that bad:

No surprise here, as D.C. United paid to get into position to take DeShields early in the first round. Let’s hope the Baltimore native tears it up.

Arriola eager to get to Wales and contribute to Swansea | American Soccer Now
Paul Arriola spoke about his move to Swansea, and also got into how things are going with United at the moment.

We’re also developing some idea of when he could make his debut:

Given the endless weekend/mid-week/weekend march that is the Championship, it’ll very likely be ASAP.

The latest episode of Plex Weather is out, and it’s a good one. I spoke with Washington Spirit original Tori Huster about life at this point in the preseason, how the Spirit plan to go about their business this season, and got into some Spirit history as well:

Black History Month: There will be change | Stars and Stripes FC
Donald’s Black History Month stories at Stars and Stripes are always good, and yesterday’s piece about the Black Players for Change is no exception.

Staying with excellent work from B&RU staff, André is half of Diaspora United, whose latest episode is out:

CONCACAF Champions League to expand format in 2023 | ESPN
The CCL will be bigger and more complicated than ever before, most likely because CONCACAF wants to create enough MLS vs. Liga MX match-ups to keep the leagues from creating their own competition.

Concacaf Champions League to expand with innovative new format starting 2023/24 | CONCACAFChampionsLeague.com
Here’s the official release, with charts to help you visualize the path to CCL play. There’s a strong chance that 13 of MLS’s US-based teams could all qualify.

Pity Martinez makes a splash return to MLS with FC Cincinnati | Cincinnati Soccer Talk
A completely wild and unexpected turn of events? It’s about that time...or maybe not, since literally about an hour ago, Pity Martinez said he’s completely happy with Al-Nassr and isn’t moving.

FC Cincinnati set to announce acquisition of forward ‘Brenner’ from Sao Paulo FC | Cincinnati Enquirer
Cincy is busy either way, as they’re going to announce a move for Brenner, who appears to be the replacement for Jurgen Locadia (who appears likely to have his loan from Brighton ended early).

Austin FC Acquires Free Agent and Two-Time Israeli Premier League Champion Aaron Schoenfeld | AustinFC.com
Sticking with MLS striker signings, Aaron Schoenfeld will be suiting up for the expansion side this year.

Over in France, Catarina Macario may be about to make her Lyon debut:

We know the USWNT roster for SheBelieves Cup, and now Argentina’s is out as well:

However, it’s vital to note that former Spirit playmaker Estefania Banini, who has been blacklisted by the AFA after speaking out against the federation’s treatment of its women’s program, has been left out despite being arguably their best player. Which really sucks! I don’t like it.

Europe Is Mining an Emerging Talent Market: the U.S. | New York Times
An in-depth piece on all these MLS-to-Europe moves, including a note about how the league has an entire department working to facilitate this sort of thing. Given United’s set of youngsters, we might be hearing more about this in the near future.

Alright, it’s time for breakfast. Good luck out there today!