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Friday Freedom Kicks: MLS Re-Entry draft, Washington Spirit Day, D.C. Defenders return, and more

Maybe if we’re very good, we’ll get some D.C. United and Washington Spirit acquisition news before the weekend

Philadelphia Union v DC United Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

Happy Friday everyone! The 2022 World Cup kicks off this weekend, and we’ve got some other news and events to chat about here while you wait.

D.C. United traded the first pick in the MLS Re-Entry Draft to Austin FC for $50,000 and the 26th pick. Austin promptly used that pick to select midfielder Sofiane Djeffal, whose contract option D.C. declined last week. The Re-Entry Process continues with Stage 2 next Tuesday, so we may get more information soon about the fate of other departing United players and whether the team will be making any acquisitions itself.

The NWSL also had its waiver wire process this week, although like United, any moves by the Spirit in that process are TBA. A bigger surprise from the league was the announcement of its 2023 schedule footprint. In November! The calendar year before the season begins! In a league as slow to make plans as the NWSL, this is big news. The outlined schedule includes some changes that will be interesting to Washington Spirit fans: the Challenge Cup will move from a pre-season to a mid-season tournament, and there will be no midweek games in the regular season. An overload of both in the first 2 months of this past season tired out Spirit players and likely contributed to their 11th place finish.

Washington Spirit are celebrating their first Washington Spirit Day — declared by DC Mayor Muriel Bowser in commemoration of their 2021 NWSL Championship win — this Sunday with a community cleanup event at Kingman Island. It’s no parade, but it’s something, I guess.

If you plan to watch the World Cup games but have no idea who to root for (or just want to hype yourself up before the games start on Sunday), I had a lot of fun with this team selecting quiz. I am embarrassed to say that I got the United States. What can I say? I like a hometown team.

Finally, in Audi Field news, XFL team D.C. Defenders are officially back. Resuming after their 2020 season, the Defenders filled out their roster in the XFL draft this week and are selling season tickets. The 2023 XFL season begins February 18, meaning there will be some overlap with the MLS season, which starts on February 25. Game dates have not been set, but the Ticketmaster sales page implies there will be 5 XFL games at Audi Field.