Hello, DP readers! No, it’s not Friday. I traded FK days with Kerry so he could go to the MLS All-Stars Skills Challenge.

Today only being Wednesday is kind of a drag, but there is (at least) one very cool thing about today: Before you get your next Freedom Kicks, the WORLD CUP will have started! The first game, between New Zealand and Norway, kicks off at 3 a.m. ET tomorrow morning, with another match between Australia and the Republic of Ireland at 6 a.m. ET. I don’t know if any of you have sufficient sicko status to watch live, but maybe you’ll join me in watching the previously aired matches over tomorrow’s breakfast.

There are a lot of team previews floating around, but this one from ESPN is pretty good for the level of detail it provides. The Washington Post also did a deep dive into the eight debutant countries and their path to the World Cup.

If you prefer your previews in audio format, our own André Carlisle and his Diaspora United co-host Courtney Stith recorded an incredible 4-hour podcast episode that breaks down the teams and their chances group-by-group. Part 1 and Part 2 are available on most podcast platforms.

Plenty of Spirit players are getting their time in the spotlight in advance of the tournament. That includes Ashley Sanchez, who was interviewed by Jason Anderson for Pro Soccer Wire, and Trinity Rodman, who The DP’s Donald Wine previewed for Stars and Stripes FC and GQ asked about items she can’t live without:

If you want to fully board the hype train, Nike has brought all the creativity they could have used on kits to a series of World Cup ads that are honestly pretty fun. In my opinion, Sophia Smith’s in particular is required viewing:

MLS All-Star week is also ongoing. More than one member of the District Press crew was at the Skills Challenge last night, and you can expect more detailed coverage from us later today and tomorrow. Looks like it was a fun time, and not only because Tyler Miller’s baby made an appearance. He performed pretty well too:

The All-Star Game is tonight at 8:30 p.m. at Audi Field and available to watch on MLS Season Pass.

In other news: Washington Spirit are starting a female coaching mentorship program, Lionel Messi has begun training with Inter Miami and is expected to appear on Friday, and USWNT player Naomi Girma wrote a beautiful tribute to her friend and former Stanford goalkeeper Katie Meyer to announce the team’s mental health initiative with Common Goal (TW: suicide).

Finally, join me in welcoming Matt Haney to The District Press team! Matt will be joining us to write about D.C. United and MLS. Look for his byline soon!

ByAnnie Elliott

Mostly writing about the Washington Spirit

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Kerry Hess

This explains why I thought I saw an earpiece on Tyler Miller. That’s pretty neat!

Bryan McEachern

I encourage everyone in the Commentariat to give Naomi’s beautiful prose a read.

Such a serious and painful topic embraced with purposeful humanity….

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