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USMNT gets draw at Mexico, D.C. United adds Chris Durkin, Spirit vs. Gotham, and more: Freedom Kicks for 3/25/2022

It’s all happening!

Soccer: FIFA World Cup Qualifier-USA at Mexico Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning! The Washington Spirit play at Segra tonight, which means shortly after this post goes live, I will be in my car for the odyssey (this is a joke...but only just barely). D.C. United brought Chris Durkin back home, while the USMNT had plenty of chances to finally win the big one at the Azteca, but had to settle for a draw with Mexico.

It’s a lot! Let’s get into it:

Chris Durkin returns to D.C. United following Sint-Truiden departure, Houston Dynamo trade | Black and Red United
More on the Durkin deal here, and it’s a complicated one: United paid the transfer fee, but it’s Houston who selected Durkin in the allocation order (no, MLS has not gotten rid of this badly antiquated mechanism), and so United had to send some GAM to the Dynamo to complete the deal.

But whatever, it’s a needed strengthening of the thinnest area of the roster, and it adds more tactical variability for Hernán Losada, who on top of having more options for the 343 we’ve seen for most of his tenure, now has an ideal midfielder to play deep in a 352, or even to drop into the back three if the opposition bus is parked and United needs to open the game up.

MLS Reschedule Match between D.C. United and LAFC to August 16 at Banc of California Stadium | DCUnited.com
In the distant future that is August, you’re gonna say to yourself, “why the hell is this game on a Tuesday night???” as DCU kicks off a 10:30 weeknight game. Well, it’s because they moved it forward one day, because this was always a 10:30 weeknight game, for MLS reasons.

Anyway I for one consider this a big win, as the Spirit’s Women’s ICC opener is very likely 8/17, also on the west coast, and now there’s not a conflict. Unless the WICC ends up starting on Tuesday instead, WICC organizers please have mercy.

We’ll get to the big international result around these parts, but first, United had two internationals in action last night:

Michael Estrada came in for the final 32 minutes, but with Ecuador already down 3-0 to Paraguay, there wasn’t much he could do in a 3-1 loss. Despite the loss, Ecuador qualified for the World Cup thanks to some very bad luck for Edison Flores and Peru.

Orejas subbed in at halftime, but couldn’t help Peru come from a goal down in a 1-0 loss at Uruguay. The big story here is that Peru appeared to have a clear goal not awarded:

It’s a massive decision for both teams, as Peru would have had a shot at automatic qualification with the draw, while also keeping Uruguay from clinching their spot. Instead, Peru hold the intercontinental playoff spot by one single point over Columbia, and two over Chile, while Uruguay (tied with Ecuador on 25 points) is headed to the World Cup.

Looks like a goal to me!

The Spirit play tonight, and I’m going to take your questions from...somewhere!

We’ll see if I’m tempting the traffic gods by making any plans. Get those questions in so the entire thing is not just me whining about what happened on the Beltway or whatever.

Taylor Aylmer finds her footing with the Washington Spirit | All for XI
Enjoyed this interview with Taylor Aylmer, who seems like a probable starter tonight for the Spirit, who are missing seven players due to injuries as they host Gotham FC. If you’re not making the journey to Segra, fire that Paramount+ up at 7:30 tonight!

2022 World Cup Qualifiers: USA 0-0 Mexico - Wasted chances, but a needed point for the Americans | Stars and Stripes FC
The USMNT and Mexico did not play a glamorous, thrilling game at the Azteca last night. The level of play on the ball was really pretty dire for long stretches, especially given the level so many of these players play at. But, the USMNT indisputably had the better of it, creating one sitter and one literal “I could have scored that!” level chance while holding Mexico to less than 0.5 expected goals on the models I saw last night.

With a finish somewhere in there, it’s a legendary win where everyone forgets the sloppy passing. As it stands, the US got some help from Honduras (who held Panama to a 1-1 draw in Panama) but did not get help from Canada (whose 1-0 loss in Costa Rica was their first of the campaign). A win over Panama this weekend in Florida will assure the US of at least a spot in the intercontinental playoff, and may be enough to just seal the deal.

However:

They’ll have to do it with a major shortage at right back. DeAndre Yedlin is suspended for yellow card accumulation, and Reggie Cannon tested positive for Covid-19, so Shaq Moore has been called in and seems like a sure starter against Panama. Tim Weah is also suspended for that one, just to add to the stress levels everyone seems to have.

Personally, I think everything’s gonna be fine! Nothing to worry about.

And now that you’re shouting at your screen, I’m done. Have a good weekend!