The middle of the week is upon us. As the World Cup enters the “not every day has a match” stage, and the United States enters the “we’re not even in it anymore” stage, my daily soccer intake has taken a hit. Combine that with there being around a week and a half before we see D.C. United or the Washington Spirit on the field, I am left only checking Leagues Cup scores (alas, Ben Olsen’s Dynamo will not play against Messi’s Miami). I find myself taking a bit of a mental break from soccer, so I encourage extra discussion in the comments explaining how I’m missing out on all the action!

Four reasons the USWNT had their worst World Cup ever (Pro Soccer Wire): Jason Anderson elaborates on a multitude of reasons why the United States is now out of the World Cup, and why we maybe should have seen this coming.

Match Preview: San Diego Loyal vs Loudoun United (Loudoun United): While United and the Spirit may be out of action for a bit, Loudoun United enters a dense part of their schedule with their matchup against San Diego.

When does the 2023/24 Premier League season start? Key dates, transfer window, winter break and more (Sky Sports): I definitely have had my head in the sand. The Premier League (and a bunch of those other famous European leagues) begin the season this weekend. Morning soccer (the kind where the sun is up…) is back on the menu.

Barebones kicks indeed! If I’m not soaking in the kicks to give to you, what have I been doing? Well I just watched the latest Star Trek: Strange New Worlds musical episode, and that has me still feeling things as of the time of this writing. This series has really recaptured the magical optimism that drew me to Star Trek as a kid, so I heavily recommend the series to everyone.

Get kicking in the comments below!

ByKerry Hess

Contributing Author for The District Press

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Matt Glad

To add to Jason’s piece, I don’t think many true US Soccer fans were shocked to see the women go out the way they did. The women’s game has grown tremendously in the last 5-10 years and the Federation’s complacency has caught up with them. Like the men failing to qualify in 2018, I hope this is a hard reset moment for the women where the coaching etc is taken seriously. The ladies can bounce back in 2027 if US Soccer fires Andonovski and puts someone there that knows what they are doing. Frankly, it’s worries me that he hasn’t been let go already.


I”m not sure this was so much about the Federation’s “complacency.” I think a critical factor is that in the past, the best women’s NT’s were one’s where the Federation invested significantly in the women (to offset the lack of a pro league). China, Japan, France, the US. What has happened is that while the NWSL is a balanced, competitive league, the top club teams are now in Europe. And they have access to many of the men’s resources (facilities, trainers, analytics) plus a longer season. They’ve gotten better then the women playing in the US (especially those relying on college ball to grow their game), better technically and better tactically.

And no, it doesn’t worry me that Vlatko hasn’t been fired. His contract expires soon. Crocker and Margrief will sit down and do an analysis. Firing Vlatko right now eliminates a big factor in this failure. But it makes it easier to gloss over everything else, to say “we’ll just hire England’s coach” or “this time we’ll hire a coach who has NT experience–like Mark Parsons” and then ignore (or minimize) the other issues.

The NWSL needs to get better. Season needs to be longer. More resources for the teams/players (athletic, analytical). More work needs to be done growing female coaches. The NWSL needs to allow cap room so you can sign a player like Putellas. Right now, probably the 20 best players in the world are almost all in Europe.

Bryan McEachern

Correct. Sacking Vlatko urgently would simply be stupid, his contract will end. Research the new replacement now and go from there.


First, I thought Jason’s piece was outstanding. I’ve read a couple of other articles about this issue (why the USWNT wasn’t impressive at the WC) and most are either simplistic (it’s the coach!) or a “grab bag of thoughts” thrown up against the wall to see what sticks. Yeah, Vlatko wasn’t a good coach. But he appears to be well-liked by the team, and a number of players pushed hard for his hire when the USSF was looking to fill that spot. Quite frankly, the glow of the last WC win overshadowed the reality that a bunch of teams (Spain, England, the Netherlands, maybe France) were probably better technically than the US and now they’ve upgraded tactically as well.

Second, I too was sorry to see Benny’s Houston side eliminated. I think the Dynamo fans who originally were like “WTF?” when he was hired have to feel good about the team they’ve got, how competitive they are–they bring game every match, compete always.

Third, I think we need to be speculating about who is the second half of the season’s Lewis O’Brien. By that, I mean a player who is out of contract, probably someone we won’t be able to afford to sign for a full year. But may jump at the chance to get playing time right now for 10+ games with Wayne Rooney as an enticing option. I mentioned Sergino Dest previously–no way he’d sign a multi-year contract. But he might sign for half a season. Here’s another wildly unlikely option but it would raise some eyebrows….Eden Hazard. Yep, he’s out of contract. Of course, he’s said he’ll only consider Europe so there is that. But remember–Christian Benteke and Hazard were teammates on the Belgian NT, so there is that. So, who else you got?


If any player is to be the “Lewis O’Brien” replacement, it will be Pirani. Players of the stature of Hazard or anyone else out of contract will not be enticed to play a few kick arounds for a 9th place team. O’Brien came here because he’s very young and realized playing somewhere was much better for his career than sitting. Quite frankly, after seeing a number of these Leagues Cup matches and seeing the cohesiveness and skill in many of the other MLS sides, I really doubt DCU makes the playoffs at all. This team has so many flaws and so few strengths to counter them that it will be a very tough slog to make it even to the play-in game. Rooney will be gone after this season, I hope Dumpster Diving Dave precedes him out the door.

Bryan McEachern

The team is always one taco short of a fiesta pack. I have grown tired of the experience. Hate saying it.


BTW, if he’s interested, I think it’s worth taking a flier on Joseph Mora. Particularly if DCU is looking at getting back to a 442 during this Nation’s Cup loss-induced break. I think we’re either transitioning to a 442 or a 4-2-3-1. I think Santos then becomes a midfielder, not a LB. So his loss of pace will be less of an issue.

Steve Comer

Sure, but why do we always bring back our injury prone players?

Ryan Hunt

It depends on if Eric Davis is more of a CB or a LB. Before we signed him I would have been excited at Mora joining, but I think the roster spot could be used elsewhere if Davis is half decent, and he appears to be.

I’d be more tempted to sign him at Loudon. That team still seems like it could use a few veteran pieces.


While Dave is scouting the dumpster bin of out of contract players, he should at least be looking for youth and pace. Alas, too often DCU does settle for putting the band back together reunions and it never works well; see Christian Gomez, RDA and Luciano Emilio. The only one that really worked was Jaime Moreno and that was an accident because he was invited to training camp as a way to get him to retire in a DCU shirt. Stayed around for 7 more seasons.

Brendan Cartwright

Tino Quaranta was pretty decent coming back.


Houston, I’ve seen a few games from them this year and I have to say that they look like a team that is 1 or 2 players away from being really good. They actually play “attractive” futbol and sometimes I think that is where their fatal flaw lies. I’ve seen them squandered several scoring chances because they tried one too many fancy passes and yes, it was a good looking play but ultimately they couldn’t score it. If Houston managed to get a decent striker, they would be a top 10 team in the league. The way they went out though, that probably hurt a lot. Someone mentioned a few weeks ago that DC’s win against Montreal was undeserving, that person should see how Charlotte “won” against Houston to understand what an undeserving win looks like.

Matt Glad

To your first point, it may be “simplistic” to blame the coach, but is it not fair to say that Vlatko hasn’t done a good job with this team? Isn’t it equally simplistic to say he should stay because the team likes him?

Vlatko’s record in the Olympics and World Cup is 4W-3L-3T with 16GF and 8GA. The US’ 4 wins were against New Zealand, Netherlands (pks), Australia, and Vietnam while their 3 losses were to Canada and Sweden(x2). If you break down how this team has done against competitive teams it’s simply not good enough. Yes, the whole program needs to be re-evaluated, but I don’t think it’s crazy to say a better coach could’ve gotten more out of this team.


Agreed, the USWNT record against good teams the past 3 years–especially outside the US (and that matters because the Olympics and WC aren’t in the US for the near future), hasn’t been good with Vlatko. I’m not saying we keep him because the players like him. A problem with the USWNT is that the players have always had a lot of influence. They have pushed to keep the 433. They pushed to get rid of Tom Sermanni. Sauerbrunn in particular was a strong advocate for Andonovski.

It was popular to say “bring the WC veterans back for one last hurrah at the Olympics” and it’s pretty obvious now that was a bad idea. Not only did the US look bad there. But we don’t have good competition in our region, many FAs don’t take the women’s team serious so we can’t get a lot of competitive matches when it isn’t WC season or a team preparing for the Women’s Euros.

I think you conduct the review (which along the way, involves identifying what type of coach you want to bring in to replace him). I like Kate Margrief. But an inevitable part of this equation will be: does she stay or does she go? Crocker will probably be the driver of the evaluation and then hiring process. And I think he deserves 2 months to gather info, talk to people, and then evaluate.

A better coach would have gotten more out of this team–I completely agree. For instance, at the Olympics, I was yelling for a double pivot (or a move away from the 433) so that the US was “outmanned” in midfield. You saw how the Dutch and then the Portuguese made it difficult for Sullivan to have time and space on the ball–and the consequence for the US attack when that happened.

Bryan McEachern

Yeah, Andi wasn’t the problem. Deployment was the problem. She took way to much flak for her tireless efforts.

Bryan McEachern

Matt, spot on that the coach cost this team. But the team also failed to score when presented with opportunities. Vlatko’s biggest problems were: Deployment; Substitutions. He strikes me as a very decent person.

Minor point (trivia): His record was 4W-2L-4T. We tied Sweden the other day, but they advanced on PKs. I am now Vlatko’s agent trying maintain my paycheck……

Matt Glad

I don’t mean to take away from Vlatko as a person or a coach. He’s done great at the NWSL level and seems like a good guy in interviews. National teams are just such a different animal.

Also, I counted penalty results as wins or losses so his adjusted record would be
3W-2L-5T after 90mins since the US beat the Dutch in pks during the Olympics.

Bryan McEachern

Well put. By no means did I get any impression that you were trashing the dude. He just wasn’t up to it, and it was obvious. 3-2-5 it is. That is not much of a dominating record….sigh…

Bryan McEachern

Star trek was just a ripper (good thing) last week. The cast and crew crushed it and it was simply a hilarious/fun/fanciful over the top party.

K Hess is right. Do check this episode out.

Live Long and Prosper, Commentariat.

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