Are we enjoying breathable air again? The fires aren’t over, so we keep checking the air quality index, but it’s been nice feeling confident enough to go on walks again. To the kicks!

D.C. United boss Wayne Rooney holds Lionel Messi debut hope after seeing ‘the best player to ever play the game’ join the MLS ranks at Inter Miami (Goal): I still have serious doubt we’ll see Messi’s debut in D.C., but the chances aren’t currently 0%. It sure would be fun.

Power Rankings: Montréal, San Jose enjoy home cooking in Matchday 18 (MLS): Ben Olsen’s Houston Dynamo knocked LAFC down a peg on these rankings.

Preview: Washington Spirit hosts North Carolina Courage in “Pitchside Pups” Challenge Cup Matchup (Spirit): The Spirit take to Buzzard Point tonight for a Challenge Cup match. Barnhart will be in goal.

How I wake up: Washington Spirit player Trinity Rodman (Axios): Want to live like one of 2023’s greatest soccer players on the planet? This is how you do so.

Finally, this is just a Claudia Pagán appreciation post. I expect we’ll see her doing bigger and better things sooner rather than later. She’s absolutely earned a shot reporting for the biggest names in television. I’ll try not to cry when she’s gone, but smile because she was here.

That’s all for today. Get kicking in the comments!

ByKerry Hess

Contributing Author for The District Press

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I’m going to raise a topic that isn’t on-point to Kerry’s post but I think is relevant. You’ve got a couple of ex-DCU coaches (Benny and Losada) posting pretty good results with teams that don’t have a great talent-base. Now, part of that is I think a year off from coaching and then being the equivalent of a GM benefited Olsen. I think Losada has probably gotten smarter and reined in some of the stuff that got him canned here. But the fact that DCU is certainly respectable and two recent former coaches are getting results in the league is a big indictment on the ownership’s unwillingness to spend on players. We don’t need to be TFC and break the bank. But it sure seems that the problem wasn’t the coaching.

David Rusk

And yet, DC United has the fourth highest payroll in MLS this season. If the condemnation is merited, it can only apply to past seasons. And aside from Ravel Morrison, Rooney is getting solid performances from all signees on his watch. And Benteke has been outstanding.

Brendan Cartwright

The Athletic has a report out that Lucho Acosta is close to gaining American citizenship, and eligibility for the USMNT. He, along with Julian Gressel, are a couple of former United players that are doing quite well away from DC. I miss them, but glad to potentially be able to see them both for the Red White and Blue.

Will Nelson

Gressel is on the Gold Cup Roster

Brendan Cartwright

And Bay FC, the new San Francisco NWSL team, just announced that they hired Lucy Rushton as their GM. Crucially, she’s their first GM, and won’t have some former GM still there lurking over her shoulder or doing some weird “power-sharing” thing.

Anyway, good for Lucy. She definitely deserves another chance to show what she can do, and it will be even better if she’s supported by the organization.


It looks like Lucho Acosta is very open to the idea of playing for the USMNT. If this were to even be possible, this would be great for the team. I don’t always like Lucho’s personality but he’s a very good player and while you could argue that Pulisic and Reyna have equal tactical ability, Lucho has a sense of picardia (mischief) that current USMNT players lack. I also think he has better vision, the type of vision that is typical of an old-school South American 10.

Brendan Cartwright

He’s improved his shooting vastly since leaving DC as well. I think he would unquestionably be an asset for the USMNT.


Lucho would instantly be the most technically gifted player to ever wear the USMNT shirt. Whoever’s in charge would have to set the team up so that he’s on the field, which hopefully doesn’t cause any headaches…

Talonesque #


You’ve seen him play for DC at a level that you’ve never seen the likes of Musah, Pulisic, Reyna, or Weah. Donovan might not have had the foot skill of Acosta, but his talent, drive and IQ were greater. Dempsey did better than Acosta does in MLS for Fulham.

Acosta is a damn good creative player, but he’s not instantly anything. On top of that, he’s a player you would have to make a focal point centrally in a way that only really happens now in MLS with DPs.

Lucho would be an option, and situationally could be effective, let’s not diss some extremely skilled players.

Last edited 5 months ago by Talonesque #

Not dissing any of those guys, Donovan and Dempsey are the GOATs as far as I’m concerned. I still think Lucho’s ball control is significantly better than them and he’d be able to dribble out of the problems where other guys usually either lose the ball or have to make a backpass and slow down the attack.

Where i might worry about him is his athleticism and tendency to get frustrated if things aren’t going right. But the team around him (like the young guys you mentioned) is so good i don’t think it would be as much a problem as when he was with DC. All this assuming he actually finds his way into the team.

Talonesque #

This comment is better framed in terms of his abilities, I think there’s still a misunderstanding of Donovan and Dempsey. It may be you’re thinking to the grinding style of when they mainly played together under Bob Bradley and the empty bucket- those two were given massive responsibility as far as ball progression and retention. If they made back passes, they had a damn good reason for doing it usually, and they’re not known as GOATs for being careless or inefficient with the ball.

Acosta is not going to revolutionize the national team by being what some analysts playfully refer to as a “dribbly boi.” I think he’ll get a call up pretty quickly, but certainly not handed the responsibility of carrying the team, especially since his judgment is not his strongest feature- he’ll do what he does, but McKennie isn’t going to alter his game to cover his mistakes.

Bryan McEachern

Disagree 100%. Reaching back as far as Tab Ramos, just for starters.

David Rusk

MLS’s J Sam Jones picks Christian Benteke and Donovan Pines as starters for his “people’s choice” All-Star team. He’s in awe of Benteke and also notes that Pines is MLS’s leading scorer among CBs.

David Rusk

0-0 at half. Only two regular Spirit starters: Staab and Jaurena. Basically, Spirit squad when all national teamers are at World Cup.

Impressions: Veteran Nicole Barnhart is very competent backup keeper. Riley Tanner at left fullback shows some skill, initiative and speed. 15 year old Chloe Ricketts is skillful but just an itty bitty thing.

Lovely night again at Buzzard Point. Let’s see what second half brings.

David Rusk

1-0 Tara McKeown header off corner.

David Rusk

1-1. Brittany Radcliffe breakaway.

David Rusk

As Spirit pressed forwarded, Courage countered 4 on 2 to score, win 1-2. First Spirit loss at Buzzard Point in 2023.

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