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Bill Hamid to miss 4-6 weeks for D.C. United, MLS, NWSL, USL, & NISA adopt concussion substitutions, and more: Freedom Kicks for 4/6/2021

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It’s a big anniversary today, and we’ve got some things to talk about

SOCCER: OCT 24 MLS - DC United at Atlanta United FC Photo by Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Good morning! It’s one of those days where most of the news we have for you is right in our wheelhouse: D.C. United injuries and visas, Washington Spirit roster news, and new US Soccer concussion substitution guidelines that are pretty noteworthy for the upcoming season. Plus, it’s a really important anniversary for something that I’ll hold until the end. So let’s go!

Bill Hamid is out 4-6 weeks with a calf strain, which is a straight-up bummer. Hamid was very close to returning from offseason hernia surgery, and but his return is going to be delayed further.

He’s in good spirits at least:

We do have contrasting reports here, as you can see Steve Goff above saying United will go into the season with Chris Seitz and Jon Kempin as their available goalkeepers. However, Sam Stejskal says he’s been told the Black-and-Red might be looking to make a move:

Personally, I think United should be willing to wait the 4-6 weeks without giving up assets to cure what is a short-term problem (especially at the cost of a roster spot on a team that has 28 players under contract and multiple trialists in camp). We’ll see whether they make a move or not.

Meanwhile, in good news, Jovanny Bolivar has arrived, and has been handed the #20 shirt:

Bolivar’s got his shirt number, and while we don’t have Nigel Robertha’s yet, we do know that both have their visas and should be able to start training with United soon:

It’s gonna be a slow build this spring, but we’re inching towards seeing what this team is actually going to be. Of course, that time feels like it’s gonna arrive after the season actually starts, because we’re already getting into season preview podcast, uh, season:

The next Filibuster should be out soon, we recorded it about an hour ago as I type this. It’s got season preview elements, I promise!

D.C. United 2021 Season Preview | MLSsoccer.com
The league site is not high on United, with no one predicting a playoff spot (and only former DCU striker Charlie Davies predicting a finish that isn’t in the double digits).

Washington Spirit announce 2021 NWSL Challenge Cup roster | Black and Red United
The Spirit have put out their Challenge Cup roster...for now. With 5 call-ups missing games due to this silly and lamentable April FIFA window and only 22 players on the actual roster for the Challenge Cup, it would not surprise me if the team opts for some national team replacement players in the coming days.

One thing that did surprise me: a player they already had in camp, Morgan Andrews, was let go without being offered a deal.

Moving on, the NWSL Players Association has a new Executive Director:

This screenshot cuts off just where Spirit veteran (and NWSLPA President) Tori Huster speaks up, so click through and read the whole thing.

Speaking of that international window that I do not like at all and think FIFA should not have scheduled, you can spot Saori Takarada training with Japan ahead of their friendlies over the next week:

MLS to implement concussion substitutes as part of FIFA pilot program | MLSsoccer.com
FIFA and IFAB have approved a pilot program proposed by MLS, NWSL, USL, and NISA to bring concussion substitutions into the leagues this year.

The short version: teams can make a concussion substitution the moment a concussion may have happened, after an assessment, or even after a player has been assessed and returns to the field of play if that assessment ended up missing some signs of a concussion. If one team uses a concussion sub (both sides get two at the max), the other team gets an extra sub. Also, the five subs/three windows rule from last year continues this year.

This is going to be tough to keep track of, but it’s a good move for player safety.

San Jose Earthquakes announce stadium naming rights deal with PayPal | Center Line Soccer
Fast forward to week 3, when I accidentally refer to the venue United’s playing at as Avaya Stadium at least twice.

Alajuelense vs Atlanta United, 2021 Concacaf Champions League: Match Preview | Dirty South Soccer
Six Degrees: CCL Preview | Stumptown Footy
CCL is back y’all. Portland takes on CD Marathon at 6pm, Atlanta kicks off at 8pm against Alajuelense, and Cruz Azul plays Haitian side Arcahaie at 10pm. Time to gorge on CONCACAF soccer!

A tale of two states as Sky Blue nears rumored rebrand | Once a Metro
With Sky Blue FC seemingly considering some degree of rebrand, this was an interesting piece on what direction they should go in.

Finally, here’s that anniversary I was talking about: today is the 25th anniversary of the very first ever United match, which just so happens to be the very first MLS match that ever was. It’s been a good time, and also a weird one!

A lot of things have changed, as you can see if you have time to watch the whole game: