Happy Friday, everyone! It felt like a bit of a slow news day to me yesterday, but here’s what I’ve got.

Open Cup Round of 32 draws took place yesterday. D.C. United will play the NY Red Bulls on Tuesday, May 9 at Montclair State, while Loudoun United FC will host the Columbus Crew the following night. Find the rest of the schedule here.

D.C. United sign Steven Birnbaum to a two-year contract extension (DCU)
D.C. have locked down their captain, in the midst of a solid 10th season with the team, through 2025.

For podcast listeners, USWNT/NWSL stars Sam Mewis and Lynn Williams put out a new episode of their show, Snacks. Sam’s sister Kristie, also a USWNT player and Williams’s teammate at Gotham FC, guest stars, and the three had an interesting conversation about the high incidence of ACL tears in women’s soccer in recent years, in addition to talking about rain delays, Kristie’s World Cup hopes, and sister stuff.

Gotham FC trades Victoria Pickett to NC Courage, receives $200,000 in allocation money (The Equalizer)
Perhaps the biggest story to come out of the close of this NWSL trade window. Gotham paid the same amount (plus a first-round draft pick) to Kansas City Current when they received Pickett in a trade less than a year ago. The Current used some of that money to bring in a number of free agents in the offseason, but it remains to be seen whether Gotham have a similarly splashy signing planned.

Venture capitalist joins new investors in Welsh football club (Bloomberg News)
Swansea City, D.C. United owner Jason Levien’s Welsh club, is reportedly set to receive £10 million from a group of new investors, one of whom is also an investor in D.C. United.

As always, I’ve got your schedule for the weekend. Is anyone else getting jealous of D.C. Defenders getting to be on Big ESPN so often? Gridiron football really has a stranglehold on this country.

D.C. United vs. Charlotte FCSat., Apr. 29 at 7:30 p.m. ESTAudi FieldApple TV
Washington Spirit vs. Chicago Red StarsSat., Apr. 29 at 8 p.m. ESTSeat Geek StadiumParamount+, NBC Sports Washington
Loudoun United FC vs. Phoenix Rising FCSat., Apr. 29 at 10:30 p.m. ESTPhoenix Rising StadiumESPN+
D.C. Defenders vs. Seattle Sea DragonsSun., Apr. 30 at 3 p.m.Audi FieldESPN

Stay dry out there!

ByAnnie Elliott

Mostly writing about the Washington Spirit

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Rain today, rain Sunday. After the Defenders’ game on Sunday, the AF pitch will be a mess. Is that the last pointy ball game for the year?


Yes. Looking at the XFL website, this is the semifinal playoff game and the final will be at the Alamodome in San Antonio, TX.

I agree with Annie in that it is bizarre that ESPN/FOX would give the friggin’ XFL better coverage than MLS. They have had consistent TV time slots rather than being moved between many time slots on Saturdays and Sundays.

We have to remember that the TV business is an oligopoly and an oligopsony. That means they can all refuse to bid on MLS rights because none of them wants to be the first one to bid higher. In any market, a big chunk of pricing is just plain old legacy. If you have a monopsony or a oligopsony, you have a situation where the buyers simply do not have to adhere to any sort of market rules because they make the market.

Hence, why MLS (and Apple on the other end) did the deal with AppleTV to try to break the oligopsony. I was wondering if shifting to 100% streaming would affect MLS’s growth trajectory but I’ve since remembered that MLS’s growth hasn’t been driven by TV at all. It’s been driven by word of mouth and a top notch in-stadium experience. The TV rating haven’t budget much in years despite every other business metric growing.


ESPN’s coverage tracks heavily with if they own any rights and how much they own. It’s part of the reason the NHL preferred ESPN over NBC in its last round of contract renewals.

Right now they own no MLS rights and Fox only has a non-exclusive share. The fact it’s being covered at all is a miracle.


Annie, I’m with you on the “Defenders on Big ESPN” issue. Look–kudos to them for making the playoffs and having a great season. I support anything that wins in the DC area. But I barely watch the Commanders so I’m not going to bothered to focus on the Defenders. Yet they’re on the Mothership network. Ugh.

Good to see Birnbaum extended. I still recall when his career was in doubt due to the injuries.

Will Nelson

I think its down to American Football > dominates the American sportsscape courtesy of the NFL. I mean it took over from baseball as dominating the airwaves. I always wonder what might’ve been if the American Soccer Wars hadn’t happened (https://www.ussoccerhistory.org/what-was-the-soccer-war/)

Bryan McEachern

Man, the vitriol on that twitter link regarding Birdbomb is harsh.


Twitter is now a swamp where the angry, ill-mannered and aggrieved predominate. You should now be surprised when that isn’t the sort of stuff you see there…

Bryan McEachern

I mean, I am happy for Steve. I am not sure that renewing him for 2 years is the best move, but it isn’t a stupid one. He is decent on the pitch, likely good in the locker room, and is a fine member of the DMV community.

Bottom line: any team can use a guy of his character.


Two years is fine. It’ll give the team an out of he’s physically not up for it at the end of his contract, right about the time the decline would be significant.

Internet as a whole has some sort of hate boner for any veterans we have or want to bring in. Why aren’t we just bringing in John Stones and VVD, ugh?

Talonesque #

Anyone who hates Birnbaum for extending his longtime service to United kicks small puppies. I’m fine with him extending, though it is a significant chunk of salary. If this is just ensuring Akinmboni has a player to learn from, it’s probably worth it.


Those are the super geniuses who wanted to fire Rooney after losing to Columbus. Just a bunch of grouchy drama queens. Pay them no mind.

David Rusk

Back home in DC and looking forward to Saturday night’s match. One last comment about Argentine fútbol. I made a point of counting up River’s and Boca’s rosters. 40 senior players . I assume that the same applies to all the Primera clubs. Plus they all have reserve squads at least one division deep. That’s why they can engage in midweek matches of Copa Libertadores (top continental competition) or Copa Sudamericana (second level). Plus , of course, compete on weekends in 38 league matches.

MLS clubs will not be able to compete in national (Open Cup) and international competitions (CONCACAF Champions League) and Not pay a price in league play until the rosters expand accordingly.

Will Nelson

I think you’ll be happy to know that the Navy will be taking on Cal in the NCAA d1a college championship for men’s rugby.

Last edited 7 months ago by Will Nelson
David Rusk

Thanks. Is it on TV?

Will Nelson

No, but it will be streamed live for free on The Rugby Network. You’d just need to register for an account on The Rugby Network, which would also let you watch all MLR games this season as well as all the games for last season. https://usa.rugby/news/craa-championship-weekend-set-for-may-6th-7th-2023-202327

David Rusk

And I haven’t watched any Commanders or NFL matches for at least a half dozen years nor college gridiron matches forever … much less watch the Defenders

In part, locally, my not watching the Commanders has been a protest against Danny Snyder but the larger motivation has been concern about the physical cost it exerts from those who play it.

Soccer needs to do more to protect against head-to-head injuries but it’s not a sport based on physically brutalizing your opponent (nor is rugby for that matter).


And for those who don’t have the Apple TV/MLS Season Pass, this weekend’s game between the Good Guys (ie: DCU), the Charlotte is free, it’s one of the games that doesn’t require a pass.

Ryan Hunt

I’m not the biggest Birnbaum fan, but he’s been loyal to the club and I’m glad he’s getting contract stability. I just hope the salary isn’t too high for the sake of getting an upgrade or two over the summer.

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