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D.C. United vs. New York Red Bulls history, U.S. Open Cup changes, and more: Freedom Kicks for 3/30/2021

All that plus a return for the horror-movie-villain-esque Daniel Sturridge-to-DCU rumor

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New York Red Bulls V D.C. United Major League Soccer Eastern Conference Semi Final Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images

It’s Tuesday, we have an outstanding look back at some D.C. United lore, a rumor that will never just go away, some Washington Spirit additions, and I’m writing this as fast as I can because my laptop battery began to swell up sometime today, which is not great!

The night Thierry Henry didn’t take the important free kick for the New York Red Bulls | The Athletic
Let’s start with the big United story of the day: this oral history of the glorious 2012 Eastern Conference semifinal triumph over the New York Red Bulls. Pablo Maurer managed to get Bill Hamid to talk about “Kyle Martini,” and Nick DeLeon clarified one of the major things I’ve always wondered about: he did, in fact, hurt his hand celebrating the goal. We’re that far into the details here.

And since we’re talking about that game, let’s check the highlights:

I was not kidding!

Moving on to modern times:

Pretty sure this is round three with this Daniel Sturridge to United rumor, and it’s starting to feel like one of those rumors that never goes away despite it always being batted away pretty easily. We’ll see you again later this summer, Daniel Sturridge to United rumor!

Laughs aside, here’s something less funny:

This is just not good enough from the organization.

MLS 2021: For these 10 MLSers, this season is huge |
I think we could apply this to a few different United players after so many down years and/or the coaching change, but I can’t fault the choice of focusing on Julian Gressel here.

Outright MLS betting: 2021 MLS preview | Pinnacle
United is on the list here as a longshot worth taking a flyer on. If you read this and bet on them to win the league, and they do, you now in my opinion owe me a cut of your winnings.

Paul Crichton Joins Spirit Technical Staff as Goalkeeper Coach |
The Washington Spirit, after evaluating several candidates, have hired UEFA A License-holder Paul Crichton (who was last at Miami FC of the USL Championship).

Spirit Announce Additions to Alliance Partnership Program |
They also expanded their connections with local clubs to include four colleges (Frostburg, Galludet, Goucher, and Marymount) in the region.

Open Cup Committee decides not to play opening round of U.S. Open Cup due to challenges surrounding Covid pandemic; teams will enter tournament at round of 16 |
I felt like the earlier plan for this year’s Open Cup either needed to be much more thoroughly explained, or expanded and just played later in the year. And after this news...well, I feel like we’re still dealing with the same problem. The USSF having to make an adjustment due to things like Covid-19 testing protocols, venue availability, etc? I get it. I think everyone would get it. But fans are owed a more complete explanation if we’re going to take a tournament that’s supposed to be a big deal and chop it down to this size.

The details, as far as United is concerned: based on the standings as of May 3, the top eight US-based MLS teams get into this year’s Open Cup. Most teams will get three games in that window, but some will not. So most likely, it’s gonna take 6-7 points at a minimum if we’re going to have a shot at that particular trophy in 2021.

San Jose Earthquakes hope to put slippery conditions behind them with new hybrid field | Center Line Soccer
Avaya Stadium has looked like the worst grass playing surface in MLS by a wide margin, and it looks like the Quakes are moving to address it. Which, interestingly, ties right into that Open Cup thing for the Black-and-Red, whose final game in the USOC qualifying window is May 1 at Avaya Stadium.

Daryl Dike and Dane Murphy: The Americans behind Barnsley’s success | The Athletic
Some interesting data in here on Daryl Dike (both strengths and weaknesses), but I’m more interested in the Dane Murphy portion of the piece given his (very brief) stint with DCU in a similar role.

Nationwide Joins NWSL as Official League Partner |
Another big national sponsor for NWSL? Sounds good! All brands should give their spare money either to their employees in the form of more generous compensation, or to the things I like.

Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC acquire five players on loan from Colorado Rapids |
United recently traded Michael Edwards’ homegrown rights to Colorado, who signed him and then almost immediately loaned him to their USL partner. Given his experience level, seems like a sensible option.

Alright, my computer hasn’t blown up yet, so I’m going to stop writing and start disassembling it. Hope you have more fun with your Tuesday than I’m having with my Monday night!