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Ben Olsen is Washington Spirit’s new club president, USMNT ties El Salvador, and more: Freedom Kicks for 9/3/2021

The Spirit news is DCU news!

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Kelley Piper / Black and Red United

Good morning! We had a good old fashioned news explosion, with the D.C. United news actually being Washington Spirit news, plus the USMNT started World Cup qualifying. It was a lot!

And a late note at 2pm: Sorry this post is seven hours late! I forgot to do the very last thing in the scheduling process, so it just sat there, completely done, all day until just now.

Washington Spirit name Ben Olsen as new club president | Black and Red United
Let’s start with the big local news, which sees United legend Ben Olsen join the Spirit as their new club president. It’s a new sort of role for Olsen, including business-side responsibilities, but the fact is that Washington’s most ardent fans are very concerned about this aspect:

We’ll see how things play out.

Also since we’re on the topic of the Spirit, this news broke while I was finalizing this episode of Plex Weather, in which Molly Hensley-Clancy joined me to talk about her reporting on the Spirit’s various troubles off the field:

It’s a bit longer than a normal Plex Weather, but I promise no time was wasted.

It’s the international window, and we have a lot of United players to talk about. Let’s go in order of when the games were played:

Erik Sorga continued to build his rep by coming in for 21 minutes for Estonia, who lead 1-0 at one point before falling 5-2. But, that second goal? That’s a Sorga goal:

Next up, Andy Najar went the full 90 against Alphonso Davies and Canada, getting plenty of praise for his first appearance for Honduras in about two years. That included winning a penalty and putting in a cross for a header that ended up going off the post in a 1-1 draw.

Junior Moreno was in uniform, but did not play as Venezuela got more or less pushed aside at home in a 3-1 loss to Argentina. Finally, Edison Flores played 72 minutes for Peru in a 1-1 draw with Uruguay. I didn’t see this game, but the notes I’ve seen point to him playing on the left wing (traditionally where Ricardo Gareca has played him). Interestingly, he and Moreno will see each other soon, as Venezuela visits Peru on Sunday in a game that both teams — who sit in 10th and 9th, respectively, in CONMEBOL’s ten-team qualifying round robin — have to have.

Here’s a quick look back at the sites and sounds of United’s last game, which I seem to recall involved stomping the Union:

A Reckoning | Full Time with Meg Linehan
Segueing back into Spirit news, aside from a wrap of all the NWSL news that happened recently (it’s a lot), this episode includes first-hand details of the Spirit’s move to order a “Sell The Team, Steve” banner to be taken down last Sunday.

There was no Spirit media availability before tomorrow’s game, but I do have a couple notes from Portland Thorns boss Mark Parsons’ availability yesterday:

Sorry to inundate you with podcasts, but damn near half the site’s staff did podcasts that came out yesterday, and I’m sharing all of them. First up, André Carlisle is half of Diaspora United, and their latest episode is a double episode with Shea Butter FC:

Next up, the intrepid globetrotter Donald Wine II is on Fútbol with Grant Wahl to talk about how he’s piling up the airline miles going to USMNT qualifiers this week:

2022 World Cup Qualifying: USA 0-0 El Salvador - a disjointed performance and an indecisive result | Stars and Stripes FC
Speaking of, the USMNT didn’t find too many chances, but probably did enough to scrape a goal somewhere in there. Still, the cliché applies: a point on the road in CONCACAF is generally good. El Salvador’s gonna cause some other teams a problem for sure.

USMNT opens World Cup qualifying with scoreless draw at El Salvador | The Athletic
More on the game!

NWSL Issues Fine to Angel City FC for Violation of League Rules and Directive |
I’m writing this after the USMNT game, and this news from the morning feels three days old. Long story short, Angel City FC decided to announce Christen Press before NWSL had signed every last document.

Here’s the NWSL Team of the Month for August:

My ballot, for full transparency: Casey Murphy; Emily Menges, Kaleigh Kurtz, Amy Turner, Carson Pickett; Jess Fishlock, Angela Salem, Savannah McCaskill; Kristen Hamilton, Ifeoma Onumonu, Mal Pugh. Apologies to right backs, this month I had to include a third center back.

For the second time this season, a Louisville soccer club abruptly changes coaches | Louisville Courier Journal
An update on Racing Louisville’s sudden coaching change, including one note on one of the multiple things people speculated being the reason...not being the reason. But, you know, probably not good that people could come up with multiple potential reasons.

Film star owners, TikTok and a documentary – inside Wrexham’s Hollywood makeover | The Athletic
I enjoyed this deep dive into how AFC Wrexham ended up with Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney as their owners.

Alright this is long enough. Have fun out there!