Happy United Day, folks! D.C. United and Loudoun United are both in action tonight. We’ll see how that goes…. To the kicks, of which there are many!

Folarin Balogun completes one-time switch to represent United States (SSFC): I’m just saying… if the US could acquire the global supply of soccer players, they should probably win the World Cup. Short of that, this is an excellent acquisition! Balogun is good. Real good.

MLS Inks $500 Million Deal for San Diego Expansion (Sportico): MLS has announced the creation of a third conference. Joining the Eastern and Western conferences is now the California Conference! Landon Donovan is sure to be thrilled with San Diego’s promotion to MLS… What’s that? It’s not the San Diego Loyal?

Shaqiri, Insigne & Chicharito: MLSPA releases 2023 player salaries guide (MLS): Benteke is in the Top 10 here. But the real question is…

Which MLS players are underperforming their contracts? We pick a starting XI (The Athletic): D.C. United may also be making an appearance on this list as well… An interesting side-effect to this player salary news is that we can now see which teams are spending the most on salaries. Again, D.C. United are making themselves seen.

OL Groupe and Michele Kang Form Global Multi-Team Women’s Football Group (Washington Spirit): Spirit owner Michele Kang is making some ambitious global moves here.

NWSL Weekend Take-Off: fit Spirit flying, Louisville off the mark as standings tighten (Pro Soccer Wire): The Washington Spirit look “fit as hell” at the top of the standings!

USL Super League Announces Initial Markets (USL): D.C. is getting another professional soccer team, and it’s… another Division 1 women’s team? I have some concerns here. Ultimately, I’m going to use this as an opportunity to share an opinion: I’m just kind of exhausted keeping track of the American soccer pyramid. On the men’s side, as things somewhat stabilize between MLS and the USL, NISA is in town, my town, Germantown, with the Maryland Bobcats. While I appreciate some local lower division soccer, my faith in NISA’s survival is… not high. And now, as US Soccer needs a clearly defined premier league to compete with the rising European investment in women’s soccer, the USL Super League chooses to compete with the NWSL? Furthermore, a new team (in partnership with D.C. United) wants to try and steal some of the spotlight away from the exciting and flourishing Washington Spirit? It’s all just confusing and concerning. I only wish all of this will bring about a stronger and more entertaining soccer landscape for the District and our country.

Concacaf launches new ranking system for region’s clubs and leagues (CONCACAF): These new rankings have D.C. United listed 45th, and not the worst MLS team, though I suspect some of that to be due to the lack of years on Charlotte, Austin, and St. Louis. Nevertheless, this will be a fun ranking to view from time to time.

Speaking of D.C. United, the team has seemingly half the starting lineup on the injured list for tonight’s match:

FC Dallas and USMNT winger Paul Arriola’s injury ‘doesn’t look very good’ (Goal): If you have ever put on a Black-and-Red kit, be very careful out there.

CTE cases in soccer players raise fresh questions about safety of heading the ball (The AP): CTE is scary and it’s real.

…which is why I maintain my quiet support for helmets in soccer. I would mourn the damage to such glorious Olivier Giroud hair styles, but not as much as I mourn the damage to human brains, leading to life altering (or life ending) conditions. As I often like to point out, the helments don’t have to look as invasive as those goalie helmets of old. D.C. United’s own head coach once sported a headband that I’d be happy to see 22 players wear on the pitch.

That’s all for this morning! Share your thoughts in the comments below!

ByKerry Hess

Contributing Author for The District Press

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

I wonder if a head guard would still let the player effectively head the ball. Also, think would have to be a FIFA decision, not just a league decision?

Brendan Cartwright

Jeremy Ebobisse wears some equipment around his neck that’s meant to help with head injuries, I think. I don’t really know anything about it, other than I’d trust him to take sensible precautions, and that it leaves your head free to attack a ball.


Would love to hear the reasoning behind DC partnering up for another women’s team to compete with the team they have a pretty important business relationship with…

I think time has shown that Kang is not someone to be messed with.


I don’t think the evidence is there for heading the ball over age 10 with proper technique. One guy from the NASL and one guy from MLS do not show a trend. Where are all the guys and girls with CTE who played amateur/rec soccer into their 40s and 50s after not making it past high school or college?

If you ban headers, you’ll make soccer into something else and you’ll have far fewer goals. You’ll also give Big Football a chance to paint a halo around its head and let them disingenuously vilify soccer as the real problem.

Talonesque #

There’s a youtube video of Balogun discussing his decision to play for the USMNT, and… I don’t recommend watching it. Balogun says a lot of the right things hollowly. My general impression is that he’s not so much excited or passionate about playing for the nation or the flag, or any of that stuff the fans care about, and frankly, that’s kinda alright at this point. A permanent mercenary decision is still a permanent decision, if he wants to make waves internationally, he’s going to have to play hard for the US, and imagine he will.

Brendan Cartwright

Timothy Chandler can talk about that.

Talonesque #

Legitimately hope his effort for US Soccer bears no relation to Chandler. Far and away the dual international I couldn’t stand, based on his stamina and commitment, or lack, thereof


We welcome Balogun to the player pool. He’s a pro soccer player who wants to make a World Cup squad. That’s motivation enough for me. As long as he is professional on the national team, that’s good enough for me.

Chris Knittel

What is it with DC and almost always having a ton of players out with lower body injuries? Is it the poor condition of the training pitches? The coaching? Medical staff? We’re not playing chaos-ball anymore with Loseda gone but it seems like every year we lose half the roster to the same injuries


I think that both Andy and Taxi and possibly Robertha are simply injury-prone. Not much to do with United. Andy got hurt while in Europe and has never truly recovered from that. If not for the injuries, we all kind of know that Andy would have had a bigger career. Taxi has been hurt on several occasions now, in comparison to some of his teammates, same with Robertha. The Rodriguez injury is a different beast altogether. And Birbaum was so durable for us during so many years, he was for a very long time the only player to play every minute of every game, even when I thought he should maybe give himself a break to recover from the hits to the head he’s taken over the years. His current injury is not much of a surprise, he took some cheap body shots during his last game and the guy is 32.


Speaking of both Arriola and San Diego, I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that Paul ends up playing for the new San Diego team. I might even say that he ends up there within their first couple of seasons. He said when he left that he might come back to DC in the future, and I hope that he does, but with SD coming in I think that possibility looks a lot less likely

Brendan Cartwright

I watched the first episode of Angel City on HBO this morning. It was good, and the solidarity of the players around all the abuse was genuinely moving. Mostly it’s just nice to see the NWSL getting some prestige treatment, and could be a template for how the Apple deal can make content about MLS teams. It’s a little like Welcome to Wrexham in that the celebrity owners are the initial hook, but it takes a look at the rest of the staff, the players, some of the fans, etc. It did seem that Kim McCauley was trying to deliberately minimize her own screen time, but I’m assuming that was her decision.

Looking forward to the remaining episodes!


DC has to win tonight in Philly right? The team has to be up for tonight’s game as revenge for what happened last season, and how Philly has owned United for the past several years now. A win would send a big message to the rest of the league that they are for real and ready to compete for a trophy.

Brendan Cartwright

So was Ramon Abila the last DC player to score against Philadelphia?

Brendan Cartwright

I’m just watching the highlights now. Birnbaum, Najar, and Canouse are pretty much the only players I see that are still here, and two of them won’t be playing tonight. Kind of a shame, since Andre Blake and Birnbaum went 1-2 in the draft, and it would be cool to see them on the field against each other all these years later, both with the same team that drafted them.

That Abila goal is one of my favorites of all time. Pretend like you were offsides, get your defender to stop playing, then whirl around and put it in the net.

Brendan Cartwright

I hope they are up for it. As part of my still being bitter about the Open Cup, the reason for punting that was that they’d be better positioned to do well in league games. They got an incomplete in their first test against Nashville, and now get to try again against Philly.

All that said, there seems to be a really big potential to lose tonight. Philly is very good. They’re at home. United is missing a TON of players to injury. Benteke isn’t on the list, but it’s no sure thing that he’ll play, which means we may see the strike partnership of Erik Hurtado and Chris Durkin again.

I can understand a loss. I just need the team to show some fight. To not be an absolute shambles, losing 6-0 or 7-0. As a team, United has looked a lot better this year. I would expect them to be able to at least keep it close. But we’re likely starting guys like Hurtado and Samake tonight. Maybe Brendan Hines-Ike in his first MLS appearance in close to a year. Hard to say we’re going to have the horses. I just want to see the heart, and I want to see the plan.


I can’t see us beating Philly yet. There’s a much better chance we don’t make embarrassing mistakes, and probably not gonna concede BS once-in-a-lifetike goals, but I’m expecting a clean 0-3.


San Diego Loyal aren’t involved with the new MLS team at all. They’re probably going to get screwed over royally in the deal.

David Rusk

Tons of big-time news in today’s Freedom Kicks. Hard to judge which will have the greatest long-term impact: Michelle Kang’s launching the Spirit-Olympic Lyonnaise partnership? Balogun to USMNT? $500 million franchise fee (!!!) for new MLS San Diego club?

But let me jump into the CTE issue: it’s far more important to err on the side of caution than to demand “definitive proof “. We DCU fans have already seen beloved players (eg Bryan Namoff, Josh Gros) forced to early retirement by concussions (if not, hopefully, CTE as a long term effect). I really think all soccer players should wear soft helmets, special headbands, etc to protect against any form of brain injuries. That would not eliminate ball heading as a soccer skill; just as with naked skills currently, some helmeted/head banded players would become more proficient headers than others.

As an ex-rugger I would also advocate all players wear soft headgear to protect against clashing heads. Though concussions sometimes occur, rugby is a much safer sport than gridiron football and even soccer.

Indeed, since my planning days 50-60 years ago, with the elimination of loose rucks where both sides could only extract the ball with their feet (as contrasted with shoving the ball out with your hands, which is now allowed), rugby may produce a lot of cuts and bruises but rarely serious injuries.

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x