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Andy Najar signs new D.C. United contract, Loudoun United gears up for 2022, and more: Freedom Kicks for 3/11/2022

The news is mostly good, unless you look at the weather forecast

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MLS: Charlotte FC at D.C. United Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning! D.C. United has some good news ahead of some terrible weather news for tomorrow, NWSL has a new commissioner, Loudoun United has a new season coming up starting tomorrow (having seen the forecast, I guess I have to add “hopefully” here), and I really wish I had some fried chicken. Let’s talk about most of these things!

D.C. United Sign Andy Najar to Multi-Year Contract Extension through 2023 | DCUnited.com
United addressed a potentially big problem, settling a new deal with Andy Najar, the player that changes how they attack more than any other. Najar earned a raise, and his contract now runs until at least 2023.

Here are the relevant quotes from United’s release:

United President of Soccer Operations Dave Kasper:

“Andy has been an integral piece for us since returning to our club last season. He is playing at a very high level and his intelligence and quality both on and off the ball are a big plus for us. We are extremely happy to sign him to a contract extension and secure his future for years to come. Andy is an exciting footballer and fan-favorite and we’re thrilled for him to be a big part of our goal of returning to the playoffs and bringing trophies back to the club.”

United GM Lucy Rushton:

“Andy has showcased his specialized skill set in this reinvented role as a third center back. His ability to read the game in front of him and step into space between the lines, gives us a unique ability to build our attack out of the back. We’re thrilled to secure Andy through 2023 and he will continue to be an exciting and impactful player for us on the field.”

How will the cherry blossoms fare amid cold and snow Saturday? | Washington Post
The headline obscures the real topic here (by the way, the cherry blossoms haven’t bloomed enough to be in any real danger). We’re about to have a brutal day of winter weather, with the dreaded wintry mix becoming more like 2” of snow during the day, furious winds throughout, and gametime temperatures that are probably gonna fall from the 20s into the teens.

If you’re going to Audi Field tomorrow, you can wear it as a badge of honor? But also stay warm out there, folks.

Data-based MLS predictions: the best, worst and most fun teams to watch in 2022 — by the numbers | ESPN
A somewhat rare instance of a national outlet agreeing with something we’ve known around here for a while: #MAXIMUMOVERDRIVE is a guarantee of something wild on a weekly basis.

Mrs. O’Leary’s Cow and the Great “Chicago Fire”: Tale No. 10 | DCUStadium.org
Ahead of Chicago’s visit, the relevant Tale From Buzzard Point presages their doom.

Next objective for Chicago Fire FC? More touches for Xherdan Shaqiri | MLSsoccer.com
Speaking of Chicago, the Fire is trying to feed their big name.

What convinced the NWSL owners and players that Jessica Berman should be the league’s next commissioner | The Athletic
Washington Spirit midfielder/NWSLPA president Tori Huster spoke at length about the impressions the PA has after its participation in the NWSL hiring Jessica Berman as their newest commissioner. Some good insight in this one.

Some Loudoun news:

Ryan’s preview of Loudoun’s season will be out in...probably around 45 minutes from when this post goes up, since I’m writing this sentence at 11:01am.

More on Loudoun:

The very recently retired Frédéric Brillant’s first game as a pro assistant coach is tomorrow, and the team posted this 4+ minute interview with him.

Portland Timbers, Andy Polo case: Audio release alleges club pressure on Genessis Alarcon not to press charges | ESPN
A recording purporting to be of a Timbers official offering inducements to shield a player from domestic violence charges came out late last night. The matter is still under investigation, so speaking conclusively about it is a bit much, but MLS, NWSL, and the USL Championship need to be held to account if they have clubs doing this kind of thing without any true consequence (and “consequence” means a lot more than Merritt Paulson saying “sorry, it won’t happen again.”) These are Jorge Vergara or Dell Loy Hansen level problems.

Rapids defender Aboubacar Keita tears ACL, out for 2022 | Burgundy Wave
One of MLS’s most promising young center backs is done for the year after an unfortunate ACL tear.

Gone Fishin’ (w/ Mia Fishel) | Diaspora United
Really interesting interview with USYNT forward Mia Fishel, who chose a deal with Tigres in Liga MX Femenil over the Orlando Pride for a range of reasons that’ll become clear if you listen to this show. Which, you should!

MLS leverages multi-million dollar loan with several Black banks. Here’s why | The Tennessean
I don’t understand finance to an extent that I’m not entirely sure what the financial transaction here even is, but I do understand that material support does a lot more than just words.

Alright, that’s that for me. I’m going to enjoy the sun while it’s here, because tomorrow we have winter’s revenge.