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D.C. United news, Washington Spirit ownership updates, and more: Freedom Kicks for 1/18/2022

Edison Flores needs an MRI, among other (mostly not great) news

MLS: D.C. United at Columbus Crew SC Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

Good afternoon! We don’t have a ton of concrete articles from yesterday, but there are plenty of D.C. United developments going on as preseason gets underway, plus the latest in the Washington Spirit ownership saga.

Let’s get started with the bad news: For roughly the 900th time in the last 13 months, a United player has picked up some kind of knock playing for his national team:

International soccer must be stopped at all costs.

I mean this at least somewhat seriously, since FIFA and every confederation has responded to the realities of the pandemic by flooding the calendar with more national team fixtures than ever before, but United’s luck in particular has been terrible on this front. Edison Flores needing an MRI on his knee is just the latest development. Generally speaking, this is an attempt to gauge what degree of sprain a player has, and knee sprains are not generally gone after a week or so.

Moving on to less bad news:

Andy Najar wants the raise that he frankly earned last year with his play. It’s good to hear that United is in talks with him, but those talks are now entering the preseason, meaning they weren’t squared away during the long winter break. Could be fine, could be not fine.

Hayden Sargis, a 6’ center back, is the newest name linked to a move to the Black-and-Red. 33 appearances at the USL Championship level, for an independent club that expects itself to contend every year, is very good for a 19 year old at a position that teens don’t often get to play. United currently has six players who are capable of playing in the back three, but with Najar probably only able to play around 75% of the schedule at the max and Chris Odoi-Atsem more of a wingback who can fill in deeper, specialist depth is not a bad idea.

OK, so I hope you enjoyed the positive news. Here comes a quick turn back towards bad news:

Zach Thornton left United this offseason, and now Oka Nikolov — a longtime Bundesliga goalkeeper as a player, who was on staff as a coach (not goalkeeper-specific) is off to LAFC. So now they’re down a goalkeeper coach, and an assistant coach. It’s not ideal!

In more upsetting news, United had to release a statement after the team’s eMLS player was subject to racist comments on a stream over the weekend:

There’s absolutely no place for talking to anyone like that. Hopefully MLS and Twitch are going to take steps to foster a better environment that extend beyond banning one account.

OK, over to the Spirit, who are having a very big day today in a way that we won’t really be able to judge for a bit:

Essentially, Y. Michele Kang and Steve Baldwin are going to make their cases to the NWSL Board of Governors. It seems to me like one case is much stronger than the other, what with the support of the team’s players and the much higher valuation being offered, but what do I know?

Let’s shift gears and get into some self-promotion. I was just on Equalizer Soccer’s podcast talking about the Spirit, but also getting into the other big NWSL news items from the last week. Give it a listen:

What Charlotte FC coach said about team’s roster and lack of DPs as training begins | Charlotte Observer
The echoes of where United was last year and where Charlotte are right now feel pretty strong, at least as far as a coach trying to do something very new. To end on a positive note, there’s one key difference: United’s non-DP starters are pretty good, while Charlotte...well, it might be a rough debut season for (insert nickname for this team once one organically comes up).

OK, so plenty of stuff has come out this morning as well, but that’ll be included in tomorrow’s Freedom Kicks. Until then, stay warm and try to have a good Tuesday!