Happy November! Halloween is over, which means for much of American society, the battle between Autumn and Christmas décor has just begun. In my youth, I was a staunch believer that the commercialized Christmas should begin on the day after Thanksgiving. Nowadays, as my wife’s marketing industry requires she prepare for holidays months beforehand (one year, our home was decorated for Fall in April), I’ve mellowed to seeing Christmas in November – I rather enjoy two months of joy and cheer instead of one. Where do you stand?

Tonight, the final Game 1 of the MLS Playoffs round of 16 begins, with Atlanta taking a trip to Columbus. Let’s recap how the other Game 1 matches went:

A lot of definitive scores so far that have the winning sides whispering why they can’t have aggregate scoring. Only SKC secured an away victory. We have also not had a need to test out the straight-to-PKs system being implemented in this round.

Meanwhile, D.C. United’s offseason quietly nudges forward.

In case you forgot the Washington Spirit had some inspirational women on the team, WAGS is here to remind you:

The world’s greatest soccer player has again won the Ballon d’Or. MLS and Miami will be clinging to this one for a long time… regardless of the award being given for Messi’s exploits prior to joining Miami. Real fans know it was the Leagues Cup performance for sure.

NASCAR sees its youngest Championship 4 in history as the sport sees its climax this Sunday in Phoenix.

While I’m personally freaking out over the #24 car finally racing for a championship again, this time piloted by 2023’s winningest driver, William Byron, I’m also caught in this weird calendar haze… I have memories of the championship race, World Series finals, and MLS Cup finals all happening at the same time. I know NASCAR’s and MLB’s calendars haven’t really shifted, so I did some digging into MLS’s schedule. While the literal day itself may not have aligned often (though it was the same weekend last year), I was interested to see how inconsistent MLS has been:

  • ’96-’98: Late October
  • ’99: Late November
  • ’00-’02: Late October
  • ’03-’11: Mid to Late November
  • ’12-’18: Early December
  • ’19: Mid November
  • ’20-’21: Mid December
  • ’22: Early November

This year, it is December 9. I don’t know what to make of this. What do you think? Get kicking in the comments!

ByKerry Hess

Contributing Author for The District Press

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Will Nelson

The Athletic’s MLS staff had a round table about the new format of the MLS playoffs. It makes for some interesting reading: https://theathletic.com/5017719/2023/10/31/mls-playoff-format/

Brendan Cartwright

I mentioned in an earlier Kicks that Ferencvaros has some pretty prolific strikers that I wouldn’t mind United taking a look at (though not sure any of them should be a DP), but that former Sounders homegrown Henry Wingo also plays for Ferencvaros. That seems the more likely target for United, particularly if Andy Najar really does want to depart.

Brendan Cartwright

Good for Matai Akinmboni, getting some international experience under his belt. Derrick Williams seems likely to depart, Donovan Pines is not a sure thing to return, and I think Brendan Hines-Ike still needs his option to be picked up. Steven Birnbaum is under contract, but suffered a fair number of injuries last year. The only other CB under contract then is Hayden Sargis (who I think could be a dark horse to really contribute next year).

The point is, Matai Akinmboni is often seen as United’s top prospect, and that he could well be thrust into more of a contributing role next season. Getting some more experience with Villarreal can only be a benefit.

Talonesque #

Yep, experience is good. I just hope that, if he impresses, United don’t bargain bin sell him. If they do sell him, it should be for good money that is used for reinvesting straight back into the squad.

Or they could just do what they did immediately after selling Parades, and piss me off more.

(Selling Parades for seven million might have been a reasonable price for his experience level, but it was most certainly not reinvested that offseason)

Last edited 1 month ago by Talonesque #
Brendan Cartwright

I think Akinmboni would need to be 18 before he could move abroad, and he just turned 17 the other day. So, we have at least a year to enjoy him, and unless he makes a HUGE leap, I would expect him to be part of United for the year after that, too.

And we’ll have a fresh GM to handle that process.

Brendan Cartwright

There’s an article on the league site where Fabrizio Romano is chatting with Men in Blazers about who the next big names to join MLS could be. One of them that got mentioned was Luka Modric. United had supposedly been rumored to be interested in him a year or two ago.

I would prefer to go younger with our open DP slot, but I guess it depends on how keen Levien and Kaplan are to go after “big names” and how ready they are to let the GM make decisions.

Talonesque #

Yeah, Modric wants more playing time, I’m very doubtful about whether he could actually handle the minutes that would make him a DP starter, as well as the travel effects on his form and fitness. Modric might be willing, but the flesh is old AF.

Modric would still be absolutely brilliant, but it’s probably time for him to start thinking of his legs as more impact sub material than foundational player

Last edited 1 month ago by Talonesque #
Brendan Cartwright

If we were like LAFC and close to a championship, and we could bring him in like Gareth Bale, then absolutely go for it. But we’re not there, and he likely doesn’t want that role. It feels dumb to say we’d be better off with Pirani and another promising young player or two, but that does feel like the smarter long term move for the club.


Not dumb at all, we’ve got 2 older DPs already, who by themselves weren’t enough to push us over the line. It doesn’t mean we have to keep Pirani either.

Talonesque #

Gonna save the main thrust of it for tomorrow, but Saudi Arabia and the 2034 World Cup, and everything that lead up to those words being put together is astoundingly bad news

Will Nelson
Talonesque #

Like, using a four continent World Cup as a way to kill the rotation cycle and get back to the Middle East, this is Usual Suspects Kaiser Sozay shit

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