Happy Thursday, everyone. It’s shaping up to be a great day at Audi Field on Saturday for the Washington Spirit, so I hope to see people there! Here’s the news from yesterday.

Lionel Messi to leave PSG at end of season on free transfer (ESPN)

Lionel Messi missed a practice to travel to Saudi Arabia, was suspended for doing so, and now comes the news that he’s definitely leaving PSG at the end of the season. Inter Miami and FC Barcelona are holding out hope they can sign him, but all signs point to Al Hillal in Saudi Arabia as the leader in the clubhouse full of money.

In Spain, scary hours may be back for Real Madrid, as they are close to getting Jude Bellingham.

World’s 50 Most Valuable Soccer Clubs 2023 Rankings (Sportico)

There is a world where D.C. United is the 25th most valuable soccer team on earth, and it’s this one! LAFC tops all MLS clubs at #16.

Hey Spirits! episode: Where my goals at (DP)

We got a new Hey Spirits! episode, so tap in and listen to the wisdom!

National Women’s Soccer League Announces March/April Best XI of the Month (NWSL)

Sam Staab makes the NWSL’s Best XI for April, and what an April she had. Incredible stuff from the defender!

Numbers Only: Early Returns for the Spirit (DP)

Blasian breaks down the numbers on the first full month of the Washington Spirit season and where things look good and also can improve.

MLS Franchise Rankings, Part 2: The worst four-year runs in league history (The Athletic)

D.C. United makes this list twice: 2008-2011 (9th) and 2000-2003 (3rd).

USA roster prediction: Which MLS stars could feature at FIFA U-20 World Cup? (MLS)

Lots of budding stars on this list, but none from the Black-and-Red. However, Kevin Paredes IS on this list as a forward!

How would Wrexham and Paul Mullin fare in MLS? The factors to consider (The Athletic)

This does a thorough breakdown of whether Wrexham could cut it in Major League Soccer. It includes some Opta Jack stats on best clubs and leagues in the world and where MLS teams, and Wrexham, fall on that scale.

DC United’s win streak is about the right mix of players (U.S. Soccer Players)

SiriusXM’s Jason Davis breaks down what’s making this recent run of success for D.C. United. He opines that the right mix of players have finally arrived to excite fans at Audi Field.

We out!

ByDonald Wine II

Donald Wine has been a soccer fan since he first kicked a ball as a kid. He moved to DC in 2007 and quickly joined the soccer scene, helping to establish the DC chapter of the American Outlaws and serving as one of the capos and drummers for over a decade. He is currently the manager of Stars & Stripes FC, but this community is where he got his start, and he continues to contribute to anything DC soccer related for this site because he enjoys it so much.

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Talonesque #

I’ll reiterate that Messi selling himself to play in Saudi Arabia is disheartening, but if we’re being honest, he was already shilling for the Kingdom and its “tourism board.”

I actually think Jude Bellingham is making a mistake going to Real Madrid. Yes, he’s young, and that doesn’t have to be the end of the road, and Liverpool as an option dried up, but if I’m Jude and I’m being ruthless, I think I’d express interest and fan a bidding war between Man City and Newcastle, who both should be looking for a midfielder of his caliber soon. Yes, Bellingham would be a signing for Madrid, but they already have Tchouameni, Camavinga, and Valverde. Think the best soccer on earth is played in the EPL, and the smart move is away from the gilded Bernabeu… but maybe that’s just

Last edited 6 months ago by Talonesque #
Matt Glad

Like you said, Bellingham can go to England literally whenever he wants and he’ll always be valued incredibly highly there. It’s too hard to pass up playing for Los Blancos and there’s no guarantee he’ll get the chance ever again.

Talonesque #

Real Madrid is a false prize to my mind at this point, currently skating off of pedigree IMO. They won the Champions League In bizarre fashion last time out, if Man City tears them apart this time like I expect, he’s choosing a team based off reputation over the chance to play with the future.

Madrid will have to put a huge amount of their transfer resources into him, and the squad has a lot of aging pieces.

Last edited 6 months ago by Talonesque #
Matt Glad

Don’t want this to turn into a whole thing, but Madrid’s prowess has backed itself up time and time again. I don’t have an issue with a player wanting to be in the same locker room as Benzema, Kroos, Modric, etc. nothing against Pep and Man City, but any English club will take him no matter what happens during his career because he’s on the England National Team.

Talonesque #

Real Madrid and Barcelona have enjoyed economic success and a level of play no one else in the Spain can manage, and they’re now both desperate for the Super League to become a thing when English clubs have left it behind. Perez might want to open up the checkbook, but realistically, it’s probably one player a year. Jude’s this year.

Talonesque #

It’s not a thing, but the players you listed are players who need to get replaced due to age. Or he could go to Man City, where De Bruyne will eventually need a backup and soon a replacement, learn the system, all that. It’s also worth noting that Ancelotti is likely leaving this summer, so he’s again signing onto prestige over reality.

Talonesque #

BTW, cuz context, I don’t particularly like any of these teams, but if Jude’s gonna play for an unlikable heavy hitter and get a massive salary, I’m questioning his logic.


I mean, you’re taking about the defending European champs, and now in a semi-final…where they had the misfortune to be drawn against Man City. If they’d been on the other side of the bracket, they’d be favored to make the final. That’s pretty good. They’re in a class that includes maybe Bayern, Barca and Man City. One of the top 4 clubs in the world. Maybe Bellingham can’t break their lineup, but that’s testament to how deep they are.

Talonesque #

I imagine Bellingham is good enough to start for Real Madrid. Kroos and Modric aren’t competition as much as lingering presences, unless they’re sold or released. I do think that, time and again, players are swayed by the prestige of the shirt, so they end up with some great players in a market where they should lose more, even if they’re not often beaten in La Liga or even in Europe. I’m not a world class footballer, clearly, cuz I don’t get the allure of simply playing for Real Madrid.

Btw, if someone’s about to point out Madrid’s history to me, don’t leave out Franco. That’s a big bit.

Last edited 6 months ago by Talonesque #
Brendan Cartwright

In terms of the right players, there’s something to that. United has filled all three DP slots, and importantly, they’re all contributing. They have a bunch of homegrowns that, even after losing Bill Hamid, are some of the most veteran players (Najar, Durkin, Pines, even Greene) and none of them are in their 30s. [Whoops, Najar just turned 30 about a month and a half ago.] A number of the other role players are either former DPs (Palsson, Santos) or probably should be (O’Brien). A number of players are enjoying some career resurgences, like Benteke and Canouse.

So there’s a good mixture, there seems to be some good coaching, and there seems to be really good cameraderie in the locker room. Does it help to have moved on from some players like Morrison and Ochoa who have had issues at every other club they’ve played for? Probably does, but to be fair, they were on a team last year that had three coaches and bad vibes all around. But a lot of credit has to be due to Rooney and his staff, and (it hurts to say) Dave Kasper for bringing in players last year and this year, sticking with the ones that had potential and cutting bait on the ones that weren’t going to fit.

Brendan Cartwright

How many games have Taxi and Benteke played together? Like 5?

And in three of them, both have goals.


Taxi is still trying to find his form, but it’s pretty clear they’re really good foils for each other. Benteke will continue to draw defenders, opening room for Taxi, but right now it’s also working in the opposite direction, getting Benteke good opportunities. He’s also missed some he should’ve buried. If they can be more precise, DCU will really have something there.

O’Brien is showing the ability to cut trough defenses with the ball on his foot– I think he’s turned the ball over too many times with errant passes, but maybe his sharpness wasn’t there when he first got thrown on to the pitch. It seems he’s intent on going back to England, so I hope the FO is paying attention and looking for someone who can play a similar role in midfield if/when O’Brien walks away.

Matt Glad

In his weekend preview, Matt Doyle heaps praise upon Cincy throwing all the flattering numbers at them. Then has 1 single sentence for DC:

“They’ll be hosting a D.C. United side that’s been dominant lately, though against lesser foes.”

Quite the coverage from the armchair analyst. I’d love nothing more than for DC to shock Cincy in their own stadium. Vamos!

Brendan Cartwright

Cincy has won all of their games in their home stadium this year, so respect to them. Even a draw would be good news for United. I think we can pull it off, and should actually match up pretty well, but this will be one of the sternest tests United has faced this year.


Lucho hasn’t been the player he was for Cincy last year, but I think that’s more regression to the mean. He was a lousy PK taker for DC, and that showed as he was stoned (by a great save) in their last match — but he was never a great finisher. His dynamism is in opening up holes in defenses. I expect he’ll be pretty motivated, which is often an issue for him. Look for DCU to pick up a bunch of fouls…

Talonesque #

The fouls thing especially is a good call, if I have one big worry about this United side, it’s the yellow cards we’re picking up at bad or stupid times.


DC United being competitive this year was something that has caught the MLSsoccer.com writers off guard and some of them just haven’t processed it yet. They have nothing to say yet because they don’t really know our roster because they didn’t pay attention to any DC United moves because they all just dismissed everything due to the bad season in 2022. Only one of them even bothered to examine the causes of the bad season and speculate about possible ways to improve. The rest just dismissed the possibility of any improvement in 2023 and moved on.

The rest have just written our organization off in their minds, which is stupid. They also wrote our team off because we have gone from a MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE pressing coach to an modernized 4-4-2/possession-oriented coach. In their minds, that is going backwards, despite the fact that the press is now ten or more years old and most teams around the world are now used to breaking presses. That just shows how worthless most of their views are for any actual on-field analysis. They are just pundits there to make hot-takes and draw clicks.

It’s the same reason why they still talk and talk about SKC despite Coach Vermes being out of ideas for about 5 years now. It’s the same reason why that one fool keeps trying to say that the Red Bulls should be in first place because of his own biases towards New York teams and the press and tries to couch it in xG. A lot of them just think that the press is where it’s at and don’t get how a modernized possession-oriented team can slice up a press.

The constant shitposters in our fanbase/Taylor Twellman’s constant shitposts on DC United have also made shitposting a sort of conventional wisdom to the MLSsoccer.com writers who think that twitter/reddit have anything to do with winning and losing soccer games.

Bryan McEachern

Or more succinctly: they are trolls……

David Rusk

My Google page gave me a Sounders at Heart story on club valuations if you can’t get more of the list because of the Sportico paywall. At $11+ billion MLS is the third highest valued league in the world just behind La Liga (12+ billion) but far behind EPL (27+ billion) but comfortably ahead of Bundesliga and Serie A.

All told, MLS contains 18 of top 50 most valuable clubs in the world — twice as many as any other league.

It’s a damn shame that MLS hasn’t yet succeeded in attracting most of the Eurosnobs to watching MLS matches on TV , which would triple or more MLS typical audience numbers and greatly increase media revenue. Even beyond the APPLE MLS streaming deal which is a Great Leap Forward (shades of Mao, my system automatically upper cased that) in revenue terms.

Talonesque #

There’s a slight caveat that a big part of that value is the closed owner system and the lack of relegation risk. It is basically true that MLS franchises are a safe asset that will likely continue growing in value in the foreseeable future, but comparing the market value to clubs that are one season away from massive problems financially is a thing that requires nuance.

Last edited 6 months ago by Talonesque #

The valuations are pure fiction — for DC United, it’s an extrapolation based on the price a few celebrities are paying for what’s being described as 1% stakes. Maybe something similar is going on for other clubs. For European clubs which haven’t been sold in years, it’s kinda hard to make a sensible valuation. Yes, relegation risk may be a thing they’re taking into account, but revenues at some 2nd division Euro clubs are likely to be higher than MLS clubs. Salaries are of course higher in Europe, but really the revenues are going to be similarly higher. Ditto for top clubs in Mexico. Club America has to be worth a lot more than any MLS club right now, even if the opportunity to buy into a pyramid scheme like MLS is tempting.

Bryan McEachern

Both good points!

Daniel H

The one bad thing about the whole Wrexham journey is the clickbait nonsense stories on the Athletic. Does anybody actually think it’s worthwhile to compare a team that just won the English fifth tier with MLS clubs in a sport where whole squads can change when clubs are promoted/relegated?

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x