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DC United, Nashville SC, and San Jose Earthquakes — American Soccer Analysis

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While they do have a few strengths at the back including the aforementioned Hamid and center back Steve Birnbaum, both of these players (including Paul Arriola who could be deployed as a wing back) will miss the start of the season. Depth in defense was a concern prior to these injuries, so this is a major red flag. One way Losada could try and paper up these cracks is by avoiding the issue entirely, leaning into the high press and aiming to regain the ball higher up the pitch and keep the ball as far away from the goal as possible. The case will likely be very much the same in certain games for D.C. without the ball as it was Beerschot: Toronto, Columbus, etc. all could require them to display more careful pragmatism. 

So, as D.C. United look to leave Ben Olsen’s plodding style of play in the past, and make the most out of the signings from last summer – what’s the outlook? While this is quite easy to say, Losada *should* have a free hit this season, especially in the early months. Whether or not Losada looks to employ a new formation, fans should be patient. There may be some growing pains given the changes required to become the protagonists with the ball, getting last season’s big money acquisition to at least find a decent baseline to judge them from, AND a lack of depth in other areas. The roster even at its very best is not at a level to see United go to the top of the Eastern Conference, but a mid table finish would be very good signs that post-Olsen the club are moving in the right direction. And judging by fans’ general opinions at the moment, just something that is more fun to watch is what they desire, first and foremost.

DC supporters will hope these flurry of front office changes signifies a real desire to return DC to the status of a club at the forefront of MLS, both in terms of organizational structure and data analysis (hence the hiring of Rushton) as well as competitiveness on the pitch.

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Nashville: Leal is fair in Lovitz and W.A.R.
By Ben Wright

I finished my 2020 Nashville SC preview with the following:

“This team will struggle to consistently score goals and will grind out a lot of 0-0 or 1-1 draws. If Ríos, Mukhtar, and Leal can adapt to the league, or a high-level striker is brought in, this side could challenge for one of the final playoff spots in the west. Staying in the playoff hunt until late in the season looks like a pretty reasonable goal at this point.”

Other than moving to the East due to Covid, I’d say that was pretty spot on. Add in Walker Zimmerman arriving with the passion of a Broadway bachelorette party and the explosiveness of a Keith Urban guitar solo, and you have a historically successful expansion season. They played great defense, struggled to score for two thirds of the season, and proved to be a bear to play against in a knockout match.

2020 in Review

It wasn’t at all the expansion season Nashville expected. After nearly 60,000 fans watched their MLS debut against Atlanta in February, Nashville was struck with devastating tornadoes, damaging several players’ homes, and then Covid put the league on hold. Just as it looked like they’d get back to playing matches, over 10 of their travelling delegation tested positive for Covid and they were removed from the MLS is Back tournament.

When Nashville finally got back on the field in August, they were what everyone thought they’d be; a very good defensive side that struggled to score goals. That improved down the stretch, though. Daniel Ríos, Hany Mukhtar and Randall Leal found their form, and the arrival of DP striker Jhonder Cádiz saw Nashville finish the final eight matches of the season as the third-highest scoring team in the league. They didn’t just qualify for the playoffs, either. They knocked off Inter Miami and Toronto FC before falling to eventual champions Columbus Crew in extra time.

From a numbers standpoint, Nashville didn’t deviate too much from expectations. They finished two points higher than their 29.77 xPts, slightly underperformed their xG and overperformed on their xGF. It’s hard to argue that their 2020 performance came down to luck. In fact, I’d argue that it’s a very repeatable result.

Offseason Roster Changes

Nashville returned most of their core while upgrading several key areas. Their entire starting defense is returning, including star weatherman-moonlighting-as a-right-back Alistar Johnston, who made his international debut for Canada this offseason after bursting onto the scene in his rookie season.

Similar to what they did in the USL Championship, Nashville has bolstered their attack after year one. They brought in veteran striker CJ Sapong and winger Rodrigo Piñeiro from Uruguayan squad Danubio. Their staff would also tell you that Cádiz and Handwalla Bwana, both signed towards the tail end of 2020, were brought in largely for 2021 and should be more impactful contributors this season.

All of their SuperDraft picks, including Irakoze Donasiyano (taken 20th overall from Virginia) will remain with their college sides until the spring season is over. Nashville will have decisions to make on those five players and if they’ll be part of their first team.





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‘This is a democracy’ – Equalizer Soccer

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Photo Copyright Hannah di Lorenzo

FIFA’s technical advisory group for the future of women’s soccer was announced on Monday, and while the 21-person group comprised of current and former players, coaches and executives, have been meeting about the holistic future of the sport, the future of the World Cup remains the most pressing global topic.

FIFA is exploring the possibility of a biennial World Cup for the men’s and women’s competitions. On Tuesday, reports emerged that the world governing body informed federations that it will move forward with plans for a Men’s World Cup every two years, following 2026. The future of the women’s game is being handled separately, with two-time World Cup-winning coach Jill Ellis leading the group. FIFA president Gianni Infantino spoke in the group’s first meeting, according to United States forward Alex Morgan, who is one of the 21 members being led by Ellis, her former coach.

Ellis said on Monday that no decision has been made yet regarding the future of the World Cup, refuting the idea that a biennial event is a foregone conclusion.

“This has been an education process for me,” Ellis said. “I think I’ve really tried to take the position of listening to everybody and finding out solutions, but to reinforce, this is a democracy. This is going to go to a vote, ultimately.”

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Amanda Vandervort brings wealth of experience to USL Super League – Equalizer Soccer

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Amanda Vandervort knew what she needed to do from the first phone call. It was summer, and Jake Papadakis, the COO of the United Soccer League, was on the other end of the phone with news. The USL was starting a second-division women’s professional league, and they were interested in having Vandervort shape its future.

Vandervort, a longtime soccer executive across various leagues and roles, had recently departed her role as chief women’s football officer at global players’ association FIFPRO, and she was thinking about the next step in her career. She previously worked in MLS for nine years, eventually advancing to vice president of fan engagement. Last week, she was announced as the president of the USL Super League, a women’s professional league which is scheduled to begin play in 2023.

“I was in the women’s game for a long time, helped launch WPS [in 2009],” Vandervort told The Equalizer. “When I left that league and went to men’s soccer, I always knew — I kept working in the women’s game concurrently — but I always knew there was the opportunity to learn as much as I could in the men’s game and ultimately, I knew I would bring that back to the women’s game in my career.”

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Three teams are in – Equalizer Soccer

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Washington Spirit players raise their arms in celebration after scoring a goal in North Carolina


Photo Copyright Lewis Gettier for The Equalizer

Claire Watkins and John Halloran break down where each team stands heading into the final games of the regular season. The Thorns have clinched the Shield, and will be joined in the playoffs by OL Reign and the Spirit. The Red Stars, Gotham FC, Dash, and Courage are fighting for the remaining three spots.

Listen to this pod on:  Apple  |  Spotify  |  Google Podcasts  |  Stitcher  |  Anchor  |  PodBean  |  Pocket Casts  |  Breaker  |  Overcast  |  RadioPublic

LISTEN NOW: The Equalizer has a second podcast vertical called “Kickin’ Back.” Jeff Kassouf hosts this interview-based podcast series which will feature casual conversations with some of the game’s biggest names, looking back at some of the biggest moments in their careers. Click here to subscribe on your favorite platform.

Subscribers: Click below for the ad-free version.

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