Happy Thursday, y’all. We’ve reached the Thursday before Labor Day, so while we all dream of a holiday weekend, let’s discuss what happened yesterday.

Gregg Berhalter names USMNT roster for September friendlies (SSFC)

Former D.C. United Homegrown Kevin Paredes makes the roster. Hope he gets a shot on the field!

FC Cincinnati clinch Audi 2023 MLS Cup Playoffs spot (MLS)

FC Cincinnati becomes the first in the league to clinch a playoff spot, and they now have an 11 point cushion in the Supporters Shield race.

Inter Miami held to draw with Nashville in Messi’s home MLS debut (ESPN)

Hey, Lionel Messi did not score, and Nashville battled them to a scoreless draw. Miami is still 10 points under the playoff line in the Eastern Conference.

Thorns FC forward Sophia Smith sustains mild MCL sprain (Portland Thorns)

USWNT and Portland Thorns forward, who left Sunday’s match against the Washington Spirit with a knee injury, will be out “week-to-week” with a mild MCL sprain. Definitely glad to hear that it’s not as serious as once feared, but Smith could be out for a few weeks.

Pots set for 2023-24 Champions League group stage draw (ESPN)

The UEFA Champions League draw is today, so we’ll find out who will get matched up for the group stage.

Brazil fires coach Pia Sundhage after disappointing Women’s World Cup (ESPN)

Brazil did not get out of the group at the Women’s World Cup, and Pia Sundhage was let go by the federation as a result. She’s been on some lists as a potential USWNT hire, but we’ll see if she wants to take a break or embrace another challenge.

Inside John Herdman’s move from Canada men’s team to Toronto FC (The Athletic)

The Athletic takes a look at the situation behind John Herdman’s move from the Canada MNT to Toronto FC.

Last night, Nebraska women’s volleyball set an American record for the largest women’s sporting event attendance ever. However, a couple pointed out that it did not set the world record despite many outlets claiming it.

Finally, Folarin Balogun has a new home. He will be the striker for Monaco, signing there on a permanent transfer from Arsenal.

Happy real feel start of the weekend, y’all!

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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To me, as we look at ways for DCU to get better as an organization, there are two really good models. One is Philly–how their youth/academies generate talent, how it’s integrated into the First Team, how it generates income through transfers. That’s a realistic model that DCU needs to aspire towards.

The second is Cincinnati. They were absolutely crap. I don’t think I’d list Albright as the greatest GM in MLS. Or Noonan as the league’s best coach. But the key is: they’re aligned, they’re on the same page. When you have a coach who controls the GM (like we do here in DC), that means they may discount things like: the college draft as a talent source. I think Cincinnati offers valuable lessons for teams that are “meh” or even “dreck” that aspire to get good, really good. So kudos to Cincinnati on the team they’ve become–amazing turnaround!

I can’t see Sundhage coming back as the USWNT for a second go. A lot of names have been thrown around and I’m not sure how many of them (Gustavsson, Wiegman) are realistic. I’d need to have a lot more insider information before I’d agree to Cortes–on paper he’s perfect but the fact that the players requested he be sacked after his treble winning season at Barcelona makes you want more details.

I watched that Miami-Nashville match last night. Interesting chess match on a soccer field. And my respect for Hany Mukhtar only went up–what a handful he is.

Finally, this seems like a really good situation for Balo. He’ll start and get lots of reps. It’s a good league but not with a team/league where there is a chance he’ll find himself like Pulisic did at Chelsea (nailed to the bench).

Matt Glad

It seems the commentariat has a firm grasp on what this organization needs to do in order to start turning things around. Several of us have pointed to various teams around the league (Philly, Cincy, C-bus, etc.) as we voiced our frustrations. It seems like the only people that DON’T see these beaconing models for success or at least competent management are the folks in charge. Fingers crossed whatever word smithing Kasper has in his contract to STILL be involved in the organization expires soon. That seems to be the only way to get him out of the building. Or maybe we can schedule a collective exorcism during DC’s last home game? I’m open to ideas at this point.

Will Nelson

The only thing Kasper should be involved in is using the byzantine rules of MLS’s intra-league acquisition tools, since he seems to be the only on in the FO who understands them. But even that I’m questioning the usability in comparison to keeping him around.

Stunned Duck

Nah, he’s using that reputation for expertise to cling to relevance. It boxes out others from learning to cover the job function. Let him go be official cap wizard for someone else, and stop trying to be more than that here.

Brendan Cartwright

And, of course, Albright and Noonan both came to Cincinnati from Philadelphia. I think that one thing both organizations are doing well now is in talent evaluation. They’re nailing their overseas acquisitions. I remember thinking how Cincinnati overpaid for Lucho, but… nope. Philly is making great use of their academy, while Cincinnati is getting talent from the draft and also good contributions from MLS veterans.

The other thing that they’re doing – and plenty of other teams are doing too – is getting good performances from the talent they’ve got on hand. I go through and watch the highlights of each game throughout the league, and there’s so many times that I see a play or an attacking buildup and have a hard time picturing DC pulling it off. Are the players on other teams that much more talented than United? Across the league, on average, I’d have to say no. United has talent! But it doesn’t seem like the coaches and players have found a way to really make that talent work together.

Ryan Hunt

Our recent draft record is extremely disappointing. Odoi-Atsem is the only player who’s really even came close to being a depth player in the last five years or so. Kimarni Smith had some flashes but now he’s on a third division team and not even a star there.

Ryan has showed some promise at times, but he’s ultimately pretty one dimensional (speed). Would Duncan Macquire have been able to partner Benteke? Maybe. Maybe not, but he would have been a really good depth piece behind him.

Or we could have grabbed Bombito instead. He’s not exactly lighting up MLS with Colorado, but he’s a serviceable RB on a much smaller contract that could have served as backup to Najar.

Brendan Cartwright

It’s especially startling after a six year stretch run that saw us draft six players that all made at least 100 appearances for the club (Pontius, Kitchen, Korb, DeLeon, Kemp, and Birnbaum), not to mention Joe Willis in the third round, and Rodney Wallace who had a really good career with Portland.

At about that time, the draft started falling out of favor, and United started looking more at either international players or strictly Terps. But none of them really made too much of an impact. There’s always players that can be found in the draft (Orlando is genuinely good at getting strikers there), but it’s often a crap shoot.

United’s bigger problem is that they haven’t really developed their youth at all, be it through the draft or through the academy. Chris Durkin and Donovan Pines are serviceable enough, and Teddy KDP shows flashes of excitement. But players like Conor Shanosky, Collin Martin, Griffin Yow, Michael Seaton, Moses Nyeman all sputtered out. Jackson Hopkins, Jacob Greene, and Kristian Fletcher are pretty much nailed to the bench, and Jeremy Garay is actually the seventh-longest continously employed player on the current roster, but has never sniffed the field.

Now, none of these other players have succeeded elsewhere either, with the exception of Kevin Paredes. But they seemed like good prospects at the time. Are we just raising bad product? Is our talent evaluation just really deficient? We need to be getting a lot more from our youth if we’re going to compete.


It isn’t even that we discount the draft, although the team famously trades away picks. We had 2 picks in the first 5 three years ago and came away with nothing. Cincy grabbed Celentano at #2 in 2022 — great pick that many thought was a reach. Of course the year before that when DCU flamed out with our 2 picks, Cincy grabbed Calvin Harris at #2, who has 1 assist in 9 games played…at Colorado. So, it’s a crapshoot at best. Very few players end up contributing and the teams that get one may have done good scouting but are also lucky.


You’re spot on about the Academy. At some level, perhaps they’re being failed by coaches, but to my eye, it’s not churning out top talent. There are good players in the region, but few of them are at DC United. Jacob Murrell, who scored a playoffs stoppage time banger for Annapolis FC was National High School Player of the Year, coming out of northern Baltimore suburbs — starred at McDonough, but didn’t even play club football. Gabe Segal isn’t setting the world on fire as a rookie with NYCFC, but he has a pair of goals, and was a top college recruit coming out of Bethesda, etc.

There’s so much that needs fixing at this club. But, I won’t say it’s all terrible scouting. The team did bring Lucho Acosta to MLS. And rescued Julian Gressel from Atlanta. The problem is that the good moves are few and far between, and then the team can’t even keep them in the fold.We overpay for mediocre players and then don’t have the money or roster flexibility to do better.

Brendan Cartwright

Hitting on homegrowns and/or draft picks is a great way to bring value to the roster.


Yeah, the thing is it almost doesn’t matter what position you hit with a good academy graduate. Wherever they come in, they’ll displace a more expensive player for a few years, allowing the team to spend that money on a deficient spot elsewhere on the field. And potentially move on for a fee, giving the team a windfall they can use to further address their roster. If Teddy can be that guy as a withdrawn FW or attacking mid, that’s a huge chunk of change we can spend on like, an elite winger (or eventually striker to replace Benteke).

Kerry Hess

That Monaco tweet… really weird on my Twitter feed that is almost exclusively NASCAR and soccer.


As the other Nascar/soccer person on this site, my immediate thought on seeing that tweet was along the lines of “is this aimed specificially at me and Kerry Hess, because there’s not a ton of overlap in these two fan-bases.” Either way though, it was cool to see. Though I do question how they made it (did they buy an old truck from Young’s Motorsports? Did Young’s help them? How did they even get the truck to southern France?)

Kerry Hess

Dailymail with the story on the truck. The truck’s from a 2018 Las Vegas race where French driver Michel Disdier was behind the wheel. What an oddly specific, niche, 5-year-old reference to introduce a London-raised American.

Last edited 3 months ago by Kerry Hess

Yeah, wow, that is so oddly specific. I can’t say I even remember Disdier in the truck, it seems like that would have been a bigger story in itself at the time. Still really cool to see though.
The real question, however, is how Monaco of all teams was the first to do this, and why it isnt the default player announcement strategy for Charlotte


Houston. Have any of you guys seen them play? I envy their midfield play, it seems every player is in sync with their movements and Hector Herrera is just having a very good year, never noticed before how much vision he seems to have.

Brendan Cartwright

They must have a really good coach!


I find this really interesting, though. How much does tactical knowledge or expertise plays into someone becoming a successful coach? How much does personality/leadership skills disrupts the equation? Based on Ben’s own admission, he was never a tactics kind of guy, even as a player, he said he just played where he was told to play and never thought about it. He, I think, has developed an strategic mind during his years as a coach. Meaning, he often knows how to map out a plan to counter an opponent. But he’s not a master tactician and he likely doesn’t have the natural ability to teach, despite his well-known ability to inspire/motivate. What I think Ben excels at is being a true leader, an in the trenches leader, one who motivates not only by speech but by doing the small things that players probably really appreciate: listening and having their back.

In the, admittedly short-time, we’ve had with Rooney, I feel like Rooney could improve on his leadership skills. Maybe, as a player, he never needed external motivation to give it his best but in reality it seems most other players do. To grow as a coach, I think Wayne must work on his leadership skills. But I’m not in the locker room so maybe I am being unfair to him.


I think that if you evaluate Ben honestly over this time as coach here at DCU, he grew. I think the MLS/USSF pro coaching course he took helped (he said it did). I don’t think he was ever a tactical genius and focused more on man-management, building up confidence, finding the right buttons to push. He was great at getting the maximum you could get out of people with low ceilings.

I think the combination of some time with the Spirit (where talent-wise, they were in the upper half of their league–DCU was never that when Ben was coach) and then some time off has led to him doing more tactical thinking. So yes, I think Ben is being more nuanced tactically now then he was (particularly in the early days of his coaching tenure). But he’s also got Herrera–who is a gifted central mid, good skills, great vision, excellent touch, and very good judgement. Herrera has been there for a while and he’s been–mediocre. Ben has found a way to push the right buttons. And Herrera is exactly the kind of guy you’d want if you’re going to play a possession, positional game–he’s the hub in your wheel that all the spokes go to.

And btw, to my earlier post about Cincinnati and how Albright-Noonan are aligned and on the same page: Onstad and Olsen are as well. Onstad pushed strongly for Ben (who still had to impress in interviews). And moving to Houston was a big step for Ben and his family–he had to feel he was going in to a situation where he was a good fit. I think most of us assumed it was a bad deal–not very talented team, lots of holes, not a lot of firepower, Herrera needed to be dumped anyway they could. And instead, look at them! Onstad and Olsen are a good team, they have a similar vision for Houston, they’re doing a great job working with a budget and with the talent they have. If Houston keeps doing what they’re doing, I think Olsen should be a contender for COTY award.

Benjamin Brewster

It’s obviously the coaching. Who is this Ben Olsen guy? Why can’t we find a coach like him?

Will Nelson
Brendan Cartwright

Tyler Miller is out 4-6 weeks with a rib injury. Depending on how things go, that might be the end of his 2023 season. If it is, it was a pretty good one. He kind of tailed off a little bit, but he’s already in the top 10 of games played by a DC goalkeeper (T-8th) and clean sheets (6th). I think we can expect more of the same next season, although perhaps some stiffer competition if Bono continues to shine.

There’s not a lot that you can say the front office unambiguously did right, but moving on from Bill Hamid and the goalkeeper shit show of last year (and dodging a bullet with David Ochoa) to land Tyler Miller and Alex Bono was a clear win. They’ve been good-to-great all year. And everyone seems to have really good things to say about Luis Zamudio too. So kudos to one area of the coming rebuild that seems solid.


That rib injury was from the offside goal. Had they blown the play dead earlier rather than doing this thing where they hold the flag down for the next 20 minutes, Miller would not have been injured. I get why they hold the flag in the era of VAR but there has to be a balance to prevent needless injuries.

I hope we can keep Miller and Bono for next season. I think the team will be competitive again next season (despite seeming to fall short this season, I hope not but I’m not as optimistic as a I was before that New England loss and that frustrating loss to the Red Bulls) this team was a huge improvement over the 2022 dumpster fire. It was clearly a team that was picking itself off the pavement and starting to form an identity.

Kerry Hess

My memory is admittedly crap on matters like this, but wasn’t the collision from an offside goal to Bono in the second half?

Brendan Cartwright

Lewis O’Brien has signed a season-long loan with Middlesbrough. It’s disappointing to see that, if Forest was just going to loan him to a Championship club again, that they didn’t extend his loan with United. But in all honesty, it’s probably going to work out much better for Lewis, so good for him.

Will Nelson

Eh Lewis wanted to go back across the pond. His personal support network is there. I got that impression that he didn’t really work on setting one up here. His gf and family were back in England.

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