CBS switched away from Chiefs game in Kansas City; fans

CALL FOR VOLUNTEERS - PLEASE REACH OUT TO YOUR LOCAL NEWS MEDIA!

+ We are putting out an open call for volunteers to send out our Github link to all news outlets! +
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UPDATE 6/5: WE ARE MOST IN NEED OF ASSISTANCE FROM THOSE LOCATED IN: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Nebraska, New Jersey, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Utah, Wyoming, Washington D.C, Puerto Rico
ALSO: Any states that have a Univision, UniMas, or Telmundo news channels in your area!
INTERNATIONAL HELP IS ALWAYS WELCOME!
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Instructions:
  1. Read the FAQ and all of these instructions carefully!
  2. Please check under your state’s comment to see if your area has already been covered - direct links are below.
  3. Copy the script (located at the bottom, after the FAQ), modify if you need to (especially if you’re personally affected by this), but stick to the facts.
  4. Go to your local market’s news stations’ and newspapers’ websites and submit info. You may have to dig around a little -- some have direct links on where to submit, some have embedded fill-forms, others have news tips email addresses.
  5. It is up to you whether you want to remain anonymous or not. But please stick only to the facts… we’re doing this on an honor-based system, so we trust you to just deliver only the factual information we provide.
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  7. That’s it! It takes mere minutes to do, but your small part contributes to a much, much larger cause.
  8. Bonus! If you happen to see your local news use any of our footage, please reply to your comment with a link from their website.
+++ FAQ +++
+ What is this I’m submitting and why?
This is a link to our (growing) catalog of all incidences of brutality instigated directly by the police. A lot of these videos are being removed from social media for various reasons (political, TOS violation, etc.) As these are removed, this gives the press less of a chance of accessing these important stories.
We believe that all markets, large or small, across all 50 states and 5 U.S. Territories need to see this. This is (as far as we know) the only place where all these instances are being catalogued and preserved, but not everyone has the ways and means to access this vital information.
+ Why not just contact the major news conglomerates directly?
Because that defeats the purpose - if Sinclair decides that they don’t want the affiliates to broadcast this, then that knocks out some very large markets. By submitting directly to the “small guys”, it gives them more of an option to use this footage.
Also, we feel it is important that this is submitted directly by YOU, the local viewer*… not by just one person who has no ties to that specific market.*
+ Why should I report back to you after I submit?
This gives us an idea of which markets still haven’t been contacted yet, and we can put in a call to action asking for help or fill in the blanks ourselves.
We also don't necessarily want to flood the major markets with the same info and script over and over again.
In the case that your news affiliate does use this information and you reply with a link, we are able to add this to our records.
+ What about my local representation? Can I send it to them, too, and not just the media?
YES, PLEASE. You can find ALL of your representatives here:
www.commoncause.org/find-your-representative
UPDATE 6/5 - Minneapolis City Council votes for changes to police dept. Start small - contact your local councilperson and your state reps. They have more power than you know!
+ I’m not in the United States… can I submit this to my local media and officials?
YES! The more global eyes see this, the more the corruption can be exposed. More exposure = more action. Please add under the “International” comment to let us know who you reached out to for our records.
+ I still have questions/comments… what’s the best way to ask?
Feel free to ask under the “Question/Comments"!
+ How else can I help?
A couple of people have asked this... first of all, thank you! We are always looking for more assistance. Please check out the Request for Mods and Content Creators -- though we are set on mods, we could stand to have some more Content Curators (such as myself) on board.

+++ SUGGESTED SCRIPT +++
SUBJECT: Nationwide Police Brutality Compilation
BODY: Hello,
I have found where some concerned citizens, such as myself, are documenting examples of excessive force being used by law enforcement officers during the 2020 protests sparked by the death of George Floyd.
Their catalog is constantly growing as the protests continue, and I believe this is something you should definitely keep an eye on:
https://github.com/2020PB/police-brutality/blob/masteREADME.md
Thank you!

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submitted by indil47 to 2020PoliceBrutality [link] [comments]

Lost in the Sauce: Dec 22 - 28

Edit Mon Jan 6: I worked all weekend, the edition of Lost in the Sauce that follows this one below from last week is going to be a little late - sorry about that! I hope to post it later today (Monday) or tomorrow morning at the latest.
Welcome to Lost in the Sauce, keeping you caught up on political and legal news that often gets buried in distractions and theater. (the previous edition can be found here if you are super behind)
Two important things:
FIRST, the headings will guide you through this piece. The Main Course covers the “big” stories and The Sides covers the “smaller” stories.
SECOND, I took a break from the audio TLDR this week. My apologies, been super busy. It will return for next week’s edition.
Finally:
Let’s dig in!
 

*Main Course*

Ukraine aid: The truth

The New York Times published an in-depth look at what happened during the roughly three months that the aid to Ukraine was withheld, revealing new information that highlights how much evidence the administration has hidden (and is still hiding) from congressional investigators. The piece also underscores that Trump was involved in every decision every step of the way.
Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, Russell T. Vought, the acting head of the Office of Management and Budget, Robert Blair, the senior adviser to Mulvaney, and Mark Paoletta, the budget office's top lawyer, were the key figures in executing Trump’s pressure campaign on Ukraine. All three refused to comply with House impeachment investigation.
“I’m just trying to tie up some loose ends,” Mr. Mulvaney wrote. “Did we ever find out about the money for Ukraine and whether we can hold it back?”
It was June 27, more than a week after Mr. Trump had first asked about putting a hold on security aid to Ukraine, an embattled American ally, and Mr. Mulvaney needed an answer.
The aide, Robert B. Blair, replied that it would be possible, but not pretty. “Expect Congress to become unhinged” if the White House tried to countermand spending passed by the House and Senate, he wrote in a previously undisclosed email. And, he wrote, it might further fuel the narrative that Mr. Trump was pro-Russia.
Not everyone was onboard:
Pentagon officials, in the dark about the reason for the holdup, grew increasingly frustrated. Ms. McCusker, the powerful Pentagon budget official, notified the budget office that either $61 million of the money would have to be spent by Monday, Aug. 12 or it would be lost. The budget office saw her threat as a ploy to force release of the aid.
At the White House, which had been looped into the dispute by the budget office, there was a growing consensus that officials could find a legal rationale for continuing the hold, but with the Monday deadline looming, it was a “POTUS-level decision,” one official said.
Among those who disagreed with Trump:
In late August, Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper joined Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and John R. Bolton, the national security adviser at the time, for a previously undisclosed Oval Office meeting with the president where they tried but failed to convince him that releasing the aid was in interests of the United States.
...“This is in America’s interest,” Mr. Bolton argued, according to one official briefed on the gathering.
“This defense relationship, we have gotten some really good benefits from it,” Mr. Esper added, noting that most of the money was being spent on military equipment made in the United States.
Mr. Trump responded that he did not believe Mr. Zelensky’s promises of reform. He emphasized his view that corruption remained endemic and repeated his position that European nations needed to do more for European defense.
“Ukraine is a corrupt country,” the president said. “We are pissing away our money.”
This article is very detailed and important to read to understand the events surrounding the hold on the aid. Message me if you are stuck behind the paywall but would like to read it anyway. Here are some non-paywalled summaries: Business Insider, HuffPost.

Promotion for stonewalling

Last week, President Trump gave a big promotion to Mulvaney aide Robert Blair, just weeks after Blair refused to cooperate with a House subpoena for his testimony in the impeachment inquiry. As the above NYT piece describes, Blair played a key role in withholding the aid to Ukraine despite the pushback from top officials and legal risks. Blair is now the special representative for international telecommunications policy and “will support the Administration’s 5G efforts led by the Assistant to the President for Economy Policy, Larry Kudlow.” In addition, Blair “will continue to serve as Assistant to the President and the Senior Advisor to the Chief of Staff.”

Trump’s July 25

Heidi Przybyla of NBC News noted an interesting detail from Trump’s Twitter feed on July 25, 2019 - the day that he spoke to Ukrainian President Zelensky on the phone. That morning, roughly an hour before the phone call, Trump was reading a Fox News poll (or saw the poll on TV) that showed Biden with a “commanding lead” for the Democratic nomination. The poll also included a hypothetical match-up between Biden and Trump in which Biden was favored by 10 percentage points.
Although circumstantial, this evidence provides insight into Trump’s frame of mind at the time of the July 25 phone call. He had just read a poll showing that he’d lose against Biden; he viewed Biden as a threat to his re-election. It was with this mindset that Trump pressured Zelensky to announce an investigation into Biden, effectively smearing his potential 2020 opponent.

The impact on Ukraine

NBC News reports that the delay in aid to Ukraine has worried top Ukrainian officials and has “exposed the cracks in the West’s response to an emboldened Russia, inflicted permanent damage on Ukraine and heightened the risk of Moscow extending its influence in the country.”
U.S. support, in particular, is seen as essential in keeping what is widely seen as a bully in the East at bay.
“Just the presence of the American army on the territory of Ukraine, in my opinion, already scares the enemy — even without any other aid,” said Ukraine Ground Forces Sgt. Maj. Yevhen Mokhtan, who works in this multinational training facility in western Ukraine.
Volodymyr Yermolenko, a professor who runs Ukraine World, an English-language media project aimed at combating disinformation and fake news: “The question about military aid to Ukraine is not about Ukraine; it’s about values. It’s about shifting Western liberal democracy eastward.”

Putin and Trump call

As has become routine, Americans learned from the Kremlin on Sunday that Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke with our president by phone earlier in the day. 24 hours later and the White House still has not acknowledged the call or provided a readout of what was discussed. The Kremlin released a readout immediately after the call, saying the two leaders discussed counter-terrorism efforts and "matters of mutual interest.”
"Vladimir Putin thanked Donald Trump for the information shared via the special services that helped prevent terrorist acts in Russia," the Kremlin-provided statement said. "Several matters of mutual interest were discussed. An agreement was made to continue bilateral cooperation in the fight against terrorism."
Reminder: This is a little out of date, but as of Oct. 4, 2019, Trump had privately spoken to Putin at least 16 times since his inauguration. The actual content of these conversations is often disputed and not recorded in any way. Two government watchdog organizations filed a lawsuit against Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for allowing Trump to seize notes from a meeting he had with Putin in 2017.

Trump outs the whistleblower

In an unprecedented step last week, the President of the United States put the alleged (and unsubstantiated) name of a federally-protected whistleblower out into the public. First, on Thursday, Trump retweeted a tweet sent by his re-election campaign (menacingly-named Trump “War Room”) containing an article that names the purported whistleblower. Then on Friday, in a late-night Twitter binge, Trump retweeted a post from a suspicious account with the name of the alleged whistleblower in the text of the tweet. In other words, Trump put the name of (who he believes is) the whistleblower on his official Twitter account, his main method of communication.
According to CNN, Twitter confirmed it “has suspended some of the pro-Trump accounts that Trump had promoted Friday night.” CNN also reported that the tweet containing the whistleblower’s name was removed from Trump’s account, but for many people (myself included), it is still visible on Trump’s Twitter page. I will not link to it because I do not believe in assisting Trump’s effort to out the whistleblower, even if Trump’s identification is not accurate.

Senate trial

Congressional leaders are still stuck in a stalemate regarding the next steps in impeachment, as the Democrats call for a fair trial with witnesses and the Republicans lean towards a quick Senate trial with a predetermined result.

Schumer

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer sent a letter to all senators last Monday arguing that not only is witness testimony essential for a Senate trial - so is “the need for the Senate to review documentary evidence.” In addition to the four witnesses (John Bolton, OMB official Michael Duffey, and Mick Mulvaney and his senior adviser Robert Blair) previously proposed, Schumer lists a range of documents from the White House, State Department, and Office of Management and Budget. The letter specifically notes the recent - partially redacted - FOIA revelation that the aid to Ukraine was frozen just 91 minutes after Trump’s July 25 phone call with Zelensky.
There simply is no good reason why evidence that is directly relevant to the conduct at issue in the Articles of Impeachment should be withheld from the Senate and the American people. Relevant documentary evidence currently in the possession of the Administration will augment the existing evidentiary record and will allow Senators to reach judgments informed by all of the available facts. To oppose the admission of this evidence would be to turn a willfully blind eye to the facts, and would clearly be at odds with the obligation of Senators to 'do impartial justice' according to the oath we will all take in the impeachment trial.
Further reading: Supreme Court lawyer and former Acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal argues in The Washington Post that the FOIA email in which Duffey orders a hold on Ukraine aid is an important example of why witness testimony is necessary: “So it wasn’t enough for Duffey to order Defense Department officials to withhold the weapons from Ukraine. He needed to order them to withhold the legally required alert to Congress. And that’s just what he did… If there’s any doubt about what the email meant, Duffey could clear it up by testifying. But he has dodged all attempts to do so.”

McConnell

Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski told a local news station that she was “disturbed” to hear McConnell describe “total coordination” with the White House in planning and carrying out the Senate’s impeachment trial. However, Murkowski has given no other indication that she intends to break with McConnell’s approach.

Graham

A couple of weeks ago, Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham invited Rudy Giuliani to testify before the panel about his recent trip to Ukraine. “Rudy, if you want to come and tell us what you found, I'll be glad to talk to you,” Graham said in an interview on “Face the Nation.” However, it now seems that Graham is having second thoughts due to the realization that Giuliani may be trying to spread Russian propaganda: “My advice to Giuliani would be to share what he got from Ukraine with the IC [intelligence community] to make sure it’s not Russia propaganda. I’m very suspicious of what the Russians are up to all over the world.”
  • During Giuliani’s trip to Ukraine, he met with numerous pro-Russia individuals, including one - Andriy Derkach - who attended a KGB school in Moscow. Derkach has been identified as a source (but not the only source) of the discredited claim that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election, not Russia.
  • Daily Beast: “I wouldn’t trust Rudy to represent me in a parking dispute so I’d say avoid,” one senior GOP Senate aide said when asked about any plans for a Ukraine briefing.

Trump’s defense

Typically, in the Senate impeachment trial, the President’s White House lawyers make up the “defense” lawyers. However, the Wall Street Journal reports that Trump’s team may include House Republicans:
The president has indicated that Mr. Cipollone would lead his legal defense team but is considering adding others with the television experience he values. Under consideration are Jay Sekulow, one of the president’s personal lawyers, and Alan Dershowitz, a professor emeritus at Harvard Law School and TV commentator, officials said. The White House is also considering adding some of the president’s staunchest defenders on the House Intelligence and Judiciary committees to the Senate trial team, according to a person familiar with the deliberations.
Legal analyst Ross Garber notes that the impeachment managers (House Democrats that “try” the case) and Senate Democrats would likely object to such an arrangement:
Curious that members of the Legislative Branch would formally represent the Executive, esp in a House v POTUS proceeding. I’d expect an objection from managers/Senate Dems. (Informal advice is one thing, but acting as the President’s - or Presidency’s - lawyers is different.)

Impeachment, Round Two?

In a court filing last week, House Judiciary Committee attorneys argued that they urgently require Mueller’s grand jury materials and Don McGahn’s testimony for their continuing impeachment investigation: “The Committee’s investigations did not cease with the House’s recent impeachment vote.” House lawyers added that if the court rules quickly, the materials and testimony would be presented in the Senate’s trial.
If McGahn’s testimony produces new evidence supporting the conclusion that President Trump committed impeachable offenses that are not covered by the Articles approved by the House, the Committee will proceed accordingly — including, if necessary, by considering whether to recommend new articles of impeachment. [page 12]
The two cases will be heard by three-judge panels of the D.C. Appeals Court on Jan. 3; the McGahn panel is made up of Judges Karen LeCraft Henderson, Thomas B. Griffith, and Judith W. Rogers; the Mueller case will be heard by Judges Griffith, Rogers, and Neomi Rao.

Dueling opinions

Washington Post columnist Paul Waldman used the recent court filings to argue that Trump could be impeached for a second time: “Don’t dismiss it as an absurd idea just yet. Not only might it happen, but it also might be absolutely necessary.” Waldman believes that between the possibility of discovering currently-unknown misdeeds Trump already committed and the possibility that Trump commits future crimes, a second impeachment “might be all but inevitable.”
However, former SDNY prosecutor Elie Honig threw cold water on the idea that the Mueller materials and/or McGahn’s testimony could lead to another impeachment push:
”Legally, yes, there’s nothing preventing the House from returning more Articles of Impeachment or impeaching again. But let’s operate in the real world: there’s just no way. No way it works politically, no way the public embraces it, no way Pelosi permits it.”

Giuliani’s interview

In yet another freewheeling interview (over daytime Bloody Mary drinks), Giuliani told New York Magazine that if the Southern District of New York Attorney’s office is investigating him, “they’re idiots” and “assholes.”
“If they think I committed a crime, they’re out of their minds,” he said. “I’ve been doing this for 50 years. I know how not to commit crimes. And if they think I’ve lost my integrity, maybe they’ve lost theirs in their insanity over hating Trump with some of the things they did that I never would’ve tolerated when I was U.S. Attorney.”
Giuliani suggested the SDNY prosecutors are jealous of him.
“It’s a terrible thing to say because it will get the Southern District all upset, but I know why they’re all upset,” Giuliani said. “Because they’ve never done anything like me since me. They haven’t done an eight years like I did since I left being U.S. Attorney. Nothing close.”
Giuliani also addressed the allegations against his client, President Trump, and in the process admitted that it would be in character for Trump to withhold military aid dedicated to Ukraine:
He didn’t think it was such a big deal once he read about it [the freeze on aid], he said, because it was “typical Trump; he withholds aid till the last minute until he makes them beg for it.”
And, finally, to top off the interview, Giuliani claimed that former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch is “controlled” by George Soros. Then the former NYC mayor launched into an extended anti-semitic diatribe:
“He put all four ambassadors there. And he’s employing the FBI agents.” I told him he sounded crazy, but he insisted he wasn’t.
“Don’t tell me I’m anti-Semitic if I oppose him,” he said. “Soros is hardly a Jew. I’m more of a Jew than Soros is. I probably know more about — he doesn’t go to church, he doesn’t go to religion — synagogue. He doesn’t belong to a synagogue, he doesn’t support Israel, he’s an enemy of Israel. He’s elected eight anarchist DA’s in the United States. He’s a horrible human being.”
  • Further reading: “Rudy Giuliani's anti-Soros tirade exposes three uncomfortable truths.” CNN. 12/24/19. And “Rudy Giuliani Doubles Down On Anti-Semitic Attacks Against George Soros.” HuffPost. 12/24/19.
 

*The Sides*

New CyberCom approach

Military cyber officials are developing information warfare tactics that could be deployed against senior Russian officials and oligarchs if Moscow tries to interfere in the 2020 U.S. elections through hacking election systems or sowing widespread discord, according to current and former U.S. officials.
One option being explored by U.S. Cyber Command would target senior leadership and Russian elites, though probably not President Vladimir Putin, which would be considered too provocative, said the current and former officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the issue’s sensitivity. The idea would be to show that the target’s sensitive personal data could be hit if the interference did not stop, though officials declined to be more specific.
...The intelligence community last month issued a classified update — a “national intelligence estimate” — asserting that Russia’s main goal in the 2020 campaign continues to be to sow discord. “It’s always been about exacerbating fault lines in our society,” one senior U.S. official said. (The Washington Post or non-paywalled option)

Political ads

The streaming service Spotify announced last week that “pause” political advertising in early 2020 because it does not have the resources to properly police the content of such ads. “At this point in time, we do not yet have the necessary level of robustness in our process, systems and tools to responsibly validate and review this content,” a representative of the company said.
Reminder: Twitter has banned all ads from political candidates, officials, and political parties on its platform. Google has limited advertisers’ ability to micro-target users based on political affiliation.
Meanwhile, Facebook has taken the opposite approach, allowing political ads on its platform without any fact-checking. According to the Wall Street Journal (non-paywall, millionaire Facebook board member Peter Thiel was a driving force behind the decision not to crack down on political ads, despite some directors and executives arguing for limitations or a complete ban.
Thiel is a supporter of Donald Trump; Thiel and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg attended an “undisclosed dinner” hosted by Trump at the White House in October.
A major donor to Trump’s campaign, Thiel is also the chairman of Palantir, a private data technology company that has become one of the largest recipients of government defense contracts with the United States government since Trump took office. (NBC News)

State wins and setbacks

A win for voter rights in North Carolina:
Republican attempts to require photo identification to vote in North Carolina are being thwarted again by judges hearing arguments that the mandate is tainted by bias that would deter black and Latino residents.
A federal court announced that next week U.S. District Judge Loretta Biggs will formally block a photo ID requirement scheduled to begin in 2020. Unless the upcoming preliminary injunction is successfully appealed, the requirement will be halted until a lawsuit filed by the state NAACP and others is resolved. (NBC News)
And a setback for voter rights in Georgia:
Georgia doesn’t have to put almost 100,000 voters back on its rolls, a federal judge ruled Friday.
The US district judge Steve C Jones ruled that a voting rights advocacy group founded by Democrat Stacey Abrams is improperly asking him to interpret state law. Jones also said the group hasn’t proved that people who have been removed had their constitutional rights violated.
However, Jones also ordered Georgia’s secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, to do more to warn people that they had been removed. The judge is especially singling out a south-west Georgia state House district where a 28 January special election is scheduled. Voters there who have been removed have only until Monday to re-register. (The Guardian)
Further reading: “The Decade When Republicans Stole the States: How the North Carolina GOP's anti-democratic chicanery became the national party's playbook for electoral theft,” The New Republic.

McCabe lawsuit

Andrew McCabe, the ousted deputy director of the FBI, says the Trump administration is withholding evidence related to his lawsuit. McCabe sued the FBI and the Department of Justice after he was fired in March 2018 by then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions just two days before he was set to retire.
McCabe's attorney, Murad Hussain, filed a declaration on Tuesday claiming that several agencies and 30 individuals — including current FBI Director Chris Wray, Attorney General William Barr and Mr. Trump — have yet to hand over any materials requested as part of his lawsuit against his former employer. (CBS News)

Flynn sentence

In a court filing last week, the Justice Department hinted that it may seek a harsher sentence for Michael Flynn, who has shifted legal strategy and taken an openly hostile approach to the DOJ. Flynn’s sentencing is set for Jan. 28.

Immigration news

Exodus of immigration judges:
Over the past year, in the heat of a border migration crisis, 45 judges have left, moved into new roles in the immigration court system -- which is run by the Justice Department -- or passed away, according to the department. That's nearly double the number who departed their posts in fiscal years 2018 and 2017, when 24 and 21 judges left, respectively, according to data provided by the judges union.
The reasons why individual judges have moved on from their posts on the bench vary, but in interviews with judges who left in recent months, one theme ties them all together: frustration over a mounting number of policy changes that, they argue, chipped away at their authority...Their departures come as the Justice Department faces a backlog that exceeds 1 million cases. (CNN)
Border wall:
I’m not going to excerpt this because it’s hard to separate one piece from the whole. It is a very important article and I hope everyone will take the time to read it: “Southern border wall is destroying natural habitats,” The Hill.

US Contractors supported Taliban

Nearly 400 people who were either wounded while serving in the U.S. military in Afghanistan or are family members of service members who died in the conflict sued a group of companies on Friday they say helped fund attacks against Americans by making protection payments to the Taliban.
“Defendants supported the Taliban for a simple reason: Defendants were all large Western companies with lucrative businesses in post-9/11 Afghanistan, and they all paid the Taliban to refrain from attacking their business interests,” the 288-page complaint filed in federal court in Washington, D.C. on Friday states. “Those protection payments aided and abetted terrorism by directly funding an al-Qaeda-backed Taliban insurgency that killed and injured thousands of Americans.”
...”In addition to MTN [South African telecom firm], the complaint names the London-headquartered G4S Holdings International and its subsidiaries, the Palm Beach Gardens, Florida company Centerra Group, the Bethesda, Maryland company DAI Global, the Lenoir City, Tennessee firm Janus Global Operations, Overland Park, Kansas’ Black & Veatch Special Projects and the Canadian company Louis Berger Group and its subsidiaries and affiliates. (Courthouse News)

Trump’s Christmas party

Trump held a Studio 54-themed Christmas Eve party at Mar-a-Lago, attended by Rudy Giuliani, Alan Dershowitz, and recently-pardoned war criminal Edward Gallagher. Parties like these cost the American taxpayers money, as more Secret Service agents are required to provide security for a large bash. Not to mention the money spent at Mar-a-Lago by White House staff and administration officials to attend.
Who else was at the party? None other than close friend of Vladimir Putin - and captain of the Washington Capitals - Alex Ovechkin and his wife, Nastya Ovechkina.

GEO Group and Trump

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) sent a letter to the GEO group last week expressing “serious concerns about possible corruption” raised by the private prison company’s spending at Trump’s D.C. hotel. The Senator and Representative request additional information from the company about the “ten to twenty” times GEO execs stayed at Trump’s hotel.
A senior executive of the GEO Group—the nation’s largest private prison and immigrant detention company—who lobbied the Trump administration for a multimillion-dollar cash infusion has also been staying in the luxurious Trump International Hotel Washington, D.C., billing an unknown sum to his corporate expense account, according to previously unreported records unearthed by the Project On Government Oversight (POGO), a non-profit watchdog.
The admission by David J. Venturella, GEO’s senior vice president of business development, came in a June 2019 deposition in an ongoing federal court case…Venturella testified that he had charged Trump hotel bills to his GEO credit card on at least 10 occasions.
...GEO became an avid fan of then-candidate Donald Trump after President Barack Obama’s Justice Department promised to stop approving new federal private prison contracts days after a report determined that private prisons were not necessarily cheaper than government-run ones, causing the company’s stock to plummet 40 percent. What followed was an outpouring of cash from GEO: hundreds of thousands of dollars in contributions to pro-Trump political groups and to his inauguration; and over $4 million in Washington lobbying, much of it directed at the Trump administration. For its part, the administration reversed Obama’s policy and has dramatically boosted GEO’s immigrant detention revenue. (Project On Government Oversight)

Nunes

The Fresno Bee asks: How is Rep. Devin Nunes funding so many lawsuits?
Mother Jones took a look at Nunes and his associates who are involved in the Ukraine pressure campaign:
Not only did the report include phone records indicating calls between Nunes and numbers associated with Giuliani and Parnas (Nunes claims the Parnas calls actually came from a number associated with Parnas’ wife and that he spoke with “someone,” he does not recall who), it also indicated deep ties between Nunes’ office and the White House. At least three former Nunes staffers currently work in the White House. A onetime National Security Council staffer in the Trump White House, meanwhile, currently works for Nunes. The names of all of these officials have surfaced in recent months in connection with the Ukraine scandal, and three of them were mentioned in the intelligence committee report.

Kellyanne lawsuit

Government watchdog Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed a lawsuit demanding the Office of Special Counsel (OSC), an agency tasked with enforcing the Hatch Act, take more disciplinary action against Kellyanne Conway for repeatedly violating the Hatch Act.
The law explicitly states that should OSC determine disciplinary actions should be taken against an employee, it must immediately prepare and present a written complaint to MSPB. The lawsuit would compel OSC to comply with its duty to begin enforcement proceedings with MSPB against Conway.
CREW filed multiple complaints against Conway, as she blatantly used her official government Twitter account and her press appearances to advocate for and against candidates for office. Conway is one of eleven Trump administration officials who have been cited for Hatch Act violations following CREW complaints.
submitted by rusticgorilla to Keep_Track [link] [comments]

[Game Thread] #5 Auburn @ #2 Kentucky (2:20 PM ET)

Auburn 77 @ 71 Kentucky - FINAL/OT

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Countdown to Kickoff 2020: Sporting Kansas City

Welcome to the /MLS Sporting Kansas City Countdown to Kickoff!

If you fancy a trip back in time, here are 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, and 2015.
Many thanks to dd12939 for allowing me to steal this template.
Now on with the show!
Team Name: Sporting Kansas City Head Coach: Peter Vermes Technical Director: Brian Bliss Captain: Matt Besler Stadium: Children’s Mercy Park, Kansas City, KS Ownership: Sporting Club Mascot: Blue the Dog Kits: Primary, Secondary Supporters Groups: The Cauldron and South Stand SC Subreddit: /SportingKC USL Championship Affiliate: Swope Park Rangers Sporting KC II News and Commentary: The Blue Testament, The Full 90, Talkin' Touches Podcast, No Other Pod Twitter Follows: Andy Edwards, Chad Smith, Mike
History: • MLS Cup: 2000, 2013 • Supporters’ Shield: 2000 • US Open Cup: 2004, 2012, 2015, 2017 Coaches: • Ron Newman (1996-1999) • Bob Gansler (1999-2006) • Curt Onalfo (2006-2009) • Peter Vermes (2009-Present)
Sporting Legends: • Winger Predrag “Preki” Radosavljevic (1996-2000/2002-2005) • GK Tony Meola (1999-2004) • Coach Bob Gansler (1999-2006) • Defender Jimmy Conrad (2003-2010) • DefendeCoach Peter Vermes (2000-2002/2009-Present) • Owner Lamar Hunt (1995-2006) • Midfielder Chris Klein (1998-2005) • MidfieldeAssistant Coach Kerry Zavagnin (2000-2008/2009-Present) • Forward Mo Johnston (1996-2001)
Forward Josh Wolff (2003-2006, 2008-2010)
2020 Season Opener: Saturday, February 29 at Vancouver Whitecaps FC
2020 Home Opener: Saturday, March 7th vs. Houston Dynamo
Preseason Roster
Predicted Preferred Gameday 18: 4-3-3
-------------------Pulido------------------- --Salloi---------------------------Russell-- ------------Felipe-------Espinoza----------- --------------------Ilie-------------------- -Martins-----Besler-----Puncec-----Zusi- -------------------Melia-------------------- 
Subs: Sanchez, Barath, Dia, Kinda, Busio, Gerso, Shelton
Note: It is entirely possible Gerso starts over Salloi. That’s the only real positional battle for the opener, though.

2019 Overview

Western Conference Table
Pos. Team GP W L T GF GA GD Pts.
10 Houston Dynamo 34 12 18 4 49 59 -10 40
11 Sporting Kansas City 34 10 16 8 49 67 -18 38
12 Vancouver Whitecaps FC 34 8 16 10 37 59 -22 34
Offensive Leaders
Player Minutes Goals Assists
Felipe Gutierrez 2722 12 3
Johnny Russell 2115 9 9
Krisztian Nemeth 1559 8 2
Yohan Croizet 1091 3 2
Gianluca Busio 923 3 1
Gerso Fernandes 1749 2 6
Ilie Sanchez 2509 2 5

Season Review

Heading into 2019, expectations were sky-high for SKC fans. Fresh off of securing the top spot in the Western conference and being one half away from going to the final game of MLS Cup, Sporting returned a bunch of veterans and brought in some new players to replace and improve upon the departures. We’ll talk about the players later, but suffice to say: they didn’t. Even the most pessimistic SKC fan wouldn’t have predicted the bottom falling out quite as hard as it did in 2019, causing SKC to miss the playoffs for the first time since 2010. It seems that everything that could go wrong, did. The fact that the season started off as well as it did made the collapse all the more painful.
We began our season in CONCACAF Champions League, beginning with the toughest draw of any MLS team: Toluca. Since SKC was the lower seed, we started our campaign at home, with the second leg of the contest being at Toluca. The result? 3-0, SKC. Goals from Nemeth, Gerso, and Ilie. Nemeth looked like the goalscorer we needed at the striker position, Gerso looked like he was going to put it all together with a goal and an assist, and Ilie did this. It was as great of a result as we could have imagined, heading down to Mexico with a commanding lead and no away goals conceded. Everyone expected a cagy, defensive match where we held on for dear life and advanced. Instead, Sporting KC scored in the 8th minute and never looked back, ending the game with a 2-0 victory and heading on to the next round 5-0 on aggregate. At one point, Toluca’s own fans were mocking their team, shouting “Ole!” every time SKC completed another pass. It was hailed around the league, with articles written about the historic win and pundits calling Sporting KC potentially the best pure possession team in MLS history. It’s safe to say that the hype was very real. Next up: MLS play.
We opened our MLS campaign against LAFC, who finished third in the West in their expansion year and were widely considered to be a real contender in 2019 (and for good reason). The game took place three days after the victory in Toluca, and three days before we were scheduled to travel to Panama to take on Independiente in the next round of CCL. Peter Vermes opted to play his full first choice XI in California, wanting to fight for as many points as possible to avoid digging a hole early. It would have worked, too, if it wasn’t for a meddling Diomande, who broke the 1-1 tie in the 90+4 minute to give LAFC 3 points. It was a disappointing result, but not cause for any panic. LAFC was good, SKC was tired, all was fine. Fontas suffered a hip pointer and was subbed out, but that’s no big deal. Oh, how naive we were. We didn’t know what was coming. Next up: Independiente. We traveled down to Panama and brought a 2-1 deficit, as well as an injured Salloi, home. SKC beat Philadelphia 2-0 in the home opener, calming concerns that things were going wrong. The home leg of the Independiente contest had SKC cruise to a 3-0 win, 4-2 on aggregate, and backup striker Hurtado was hurt, undergoing knee surgery and given a 2-3 month timetable for return.
The next two games were MLS play: a 1-1 tie with Colorado made notable by former SKC striker Diego Rubio scoring the opener before Russell’s incredible free kick salvaged a draw for SKC. There was also the 7-1 home victory over Montreal. Nemeth hat trick, Busio goal, tons of fun. Unfortunately for SKC fans, that was just about the last bit of fun for a long while. Their next win wouldn’t come until the end of May against Seattle. The next CCL matchup was against Monterrey, who completely obliterated SKC to the tune of 5 goals to nil. In the first leg. The second leg wasn’t much better, with Monterrey beating SKC in KC 5-2, for an aggregate score of 10-2.
The rest of the season was very bad and I won’t spend much time on it. Two wins against Seattle was certainly nice, but there were way too many embarrassing scorelines. 1-4 against SJ, 0-3 against Atlanta, 1-5 against LAFC, 2-7 against LAG, and 0-6 against FC Dallas all stand out. I’ll get into the players, but it’s safe to say that injuries completely and utterly destroyed SKC’s season. At one point, there were 6 players healthy enough to practice. SKC earned 1 point from the 6 games they played after August to close out the season.

Players

Check out The Blue Testament’s Year in review for every player, located here!
Shoutout to major_winters_506 for their offseason roster thread here

Transfers Out

Date Player Position Action
11/19 Medranda Midfielder Removed: Picked in Expansion Draft
11/19 Zendejas GK Removed: Traded to Nashville SC
11/21 Sinovic Defender Removed: Contract Option Declined
11/21 Feilhaber Midfielder Removed: Contract Option Declined
11/21 Zelalem Midfielder Removed: Contract Option Declined
11/21 Nemeth Forward Removed: Contract Expired
11/21 Hasler Defender Removed: Contract Expired
11/21 Wallace Defender Removed: Contract Expired
Jimmy Medranda: Sporting loses another fan favorite in the expansion draft, as part of a deal including leaving Jimmy exposed and trading Zendejas to Nashville SC. Jimmy was always the heir apparent to Seth Sinovic, while also being able to fill in pretty much anywhere on the pitch. His 1v1 ability will not be forgotten, nor will his incredible goals. Unfortunately, injury really robbed him of a lot of time.
Adrian Zendejas: The three-year backup to Melia moved on in a trade with Nashville SC. He only made one appearance with the senior team, starting the 1-1 tie with FC Cincinnati.
Seth Sinovic: Seth was acquired by SKC in 2011 from the New England Revolution. Since then, he’s made 210 appearances for us before having his option declined this offseason. He was signed in free agency by the Revs. I think every SKC fan still believes that at some point before the end of the season, we’ll see Seth back on the team and winning the starting left back position. After featuring there for so long, and fighting off so many challengers, it just makes sense.
Benny Feilhaber: Another long-time SKC veteran, Benny returned this season from his stint with the Colorado Rapids while SKC was in the midst of its horrible injury crisis. He started 13 games, and gave us some life when we needed it most. Benny had his option declined and remains a free agent.
Gedion Zelalem: The extremely talented midfielder never found his footing under Vermes, only managing 5 starts for the injury-riddled SKC. His reportedly very expensive option was declined, and he was picked up by NYCFC.
Krisztian Nemeth: Oh, what could have been. Nemeth had a promising start to his second stint with SKC, scoring 7 goals in his first 11 regular season games in 2019, and 4 in CCL. Unfortunately, he would only score once the rest of the way en route to Vermes choosing to not renew his contract. Nemeth is currently without a team.
Nicolas Hasler: Hasler was signed for one year to be defensive/midfield depth, and he did just that in 2019, making 9 appearances for SKC. Hasley now plays for FC Thun of the Swiss Super League.
Rodney Wallace: Rodney Wallace was signed as wing/left back depth for 2019. He had one start, playing 27 minutes before suffering a season-ending injury. Wallace is currently without a team.

Transfers In

Date Player Position Action
11/26 Sanchez GK Added: Selected in Re-Entry Draft
12/4 Puncec Defender Added: Signed through 2021
12/9 Shelton Forward Added: Signed through 2022
12/10 Pulido Forward Added: Signed through 2023
1/10 Dia Defender Added: Signed for 2020 with options through 2022
1/13 Townsend Midfielder Added: 2020 MLS Super Draft
1/13 Kasak Defender Added: 2020 MLS Super Draft
1/23 Kinda Midfielder Added: One-Year Loan
2/4 Dick GK Loaned to USL Championship side Phoenix Rising FC for the 2020
2/14 Reid Defender Added: On loan from West Ham
Richard Sanchez: Sanchez was acquired via the re-entry draft from the Chicago Fire after making no appearances in 2019 for them. He will serve as backup to Tim Melia while Dick gets experience on loan and Pulskamp starts for SKCII.
Roberto Puncec: Puncec was out of contract after playing for HNK Rijelca in the Croatian league. He appears to be the starting right center back next to Matt Besler, starting there in every preseason match so far. Puncec has played extensively in Europe between Israel, Croatia, and the 2. Bundesliga.
Khiry Shelton: Shelton returns after a short stint with SC Paderborn, during which he rarely featured and never scored for the senior team, while suffering an injury which caused him to miss substantial time. While Shelton was injured, Paderborn earned promotion to the Bundesliga, which seems to have proved too high of a level for Shelton. Nonetheless, he’s back in KC and appears to be much improved technically, and figures to be the backup striker and potentially a feature on the wing.
Alan Pulido: The Striker that was Promised. He’s here. Sporting KC ownership finally opened their pocketbooks, spending a rumored $9.5m on the Mexican striker who won the golden boot in Liga MX’s 2019 Apertura. Pulido appears to be the perfect striker for what Vermes wants, with a high defensive workrate, combination ability, positional flexibility, and a deadly finish. Expectations are sky-high for the player who more than doubled SKC’s historical net spend.
Amadou Dia: Dia returns to SKC after a three year stint in the USL with Phoenix. He will be the backup left back behind Luis Martins.
Jaret Townsend: Hey look a draft pick!
James Kasak: Hey look another draft pick!
Gadi Kinda: I Gadi say, this guys’ name seems Kinda great for puns. Kinda was acquired on loan from Israeli club Beitar Jerusalem. He had enjoyed a breakout season in 2019, scoring 7 goals and 4 assists from midfield in 16 appearances. The Ethiopian has yet to feature for the senior Israeli national team, despite appearing for their youth teams. He was called up for EURO 2020 qualifying. Kinda appears to be midfield depth, but is sure to push for a starting spot this season. He has impressed in preseason with his runs, footwork, and work rate.
Winston Reid: The 31 year old New Zealand center back is on loan from West Ham, who he’s made 222 competitive appearances for. Reid hasn’t made a senior competitive appearance since March 2018 due to injury. With almost two years off injured, this move appears to be a gamble that he can regain his form and once again become a top defender. If he does, he will undoubtedly be cemented in the SKC backline.

Returning Players

The Vets

Roger Espinoza: A bulldog in the central midfield, Honduran international Roger Espinoza was drafted by Sporting KC in 2008. Apart from two seasons he spent in England with Wigan, Espinoza has been a mainstay in the middle of the field, playing as a box-to-box destroyer. Roger lost a chunk of 2019 to injury, and another chunk to red cards (three, tying his personal “best” and moving into the league lead for total). He also proved just how much he means to this team, as SKC went on a terrible run when he was out. As Peter Vermes continues to search for a replacement for the 33 year old, expect Roger to continue to get plenty of minutes.
Matt Besler: Drafted in 2009 by the then-Kansas City Wizards, hometown hero Matt Besler has long been a stalwart in Peter Vermes’ defense. Apart from a down year in 2016, Besler has been one of the most consistent players in recent memory, but he’s 33 years old and his contract expires at the end of the year. Could this be the last year we see Besler in an SKC uniform? He looks to be entrenched as a starter and our captain, but it’s uncertain how much longer that will last with a potentially deep CB room behind him.
Graham Zusi: Zusi has been a near-constant presence on the wing for Sporting since he was drafted in 2009, though since the beginning of 2017 he has become Peter Vermes’ go-to right back. 2019 saw him named an MLS All Star, although most believe that honor was a year too late and not quite deserved this year. Regardless, how they told him was one of the highlights of the season. Graham looks to be the starter at right back yet again, but Lindsey is gunning for his position and Zusi may not be able to hold him off for much longer. Zusi’s contract runs through 2021.
Tim Melia: The 2017 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year should need little introduction at this point, nor should his storied career move from Rochester Rhinos’ backup to MLS pool goalkeeper to his current tenure with Sporting Kansas City. While Melia, along with the rest of the backline, performed not very well in 2019, he will look to regain his top form as the starter between the sticks.

The New Core

Johnny Russell: Scottish winger Johnny Russell returns for his third year in Kansas City having made himself a favorite both on and off the field. Most often deployed as an inverted right winger, his strength and skill terrorized defenses as he contributed 9 goals and 9 assists in 28 games last season. Look for him and his pet turtle to continue to put the fear of god in defenders from the right side of the field.
Ilie: The 29-year-old Spanish midfielder is a product of the Barcelona academy and played for Barcelona B for five seasons before a short stint in 2. Bundesliga with 1860 Munich. After joining SKC in 2017, he locked down the starting defensive midfield spot, starting 67 of 68 league games over two years and becoming an essential part of the team’s midfield structure. 2019 saw Ilie start 27 games, and when he was on the field he seemed much less effective than in years past. An All-Star in 2018, Ilie will look to regain that form this year.
Felipe Gutiérrez: Chilean midfielder Felipe Gutierrez was probably the MVP of the team in 2019, scoring 12 and assisting 3. Guti was behind only Melia in minutes played, and could be found at all three midfield positions throughout the year, although Vermes obviously prefers him at the attacking midfield spot. His ability and versatility means that it’s a safe bet Guti Gang will be in contention for the most starts on the team, as well as team MVP.

Something to Prove

Andreu Fontas: Fontas, uh, didn’t exactly work out in his first year. His $1m salary was part of the reason why Ike left, and then Fontas only started 10 games, a number of which were very bad, before getting injured for several months. Once he was healthy, Vermes declined to include him in the 18, and Fontas had surgery as soon as the season was over, which will keep him out for roughly the first month of this season. It’s widely speculated that the front office plans to buy out Fontas’s contract, considering the additions of Puncec and Reid and the fact that Fontas doesn’t appear to be in Vermes’s plans even when healthy. The biggest stumbling block for that is his contract: guaranteed at $1m through 2022, it would cost $3m to buy him out and get the cap space that he takes up back. The fans want him gone, so we’ll see if the ownership continues the “injection of capital” and buys out his contract.
Botond Barath: The Hungarian center back entered 2019 as the third center back on the depth chart, but ended up starting 20 games, behind only Matt Besler. Barath wasn’t a disaster, but he certainly didn’t distinguish himself as part of Sporting’s backline. Heading into 2020 it appears that he will go back to being a third or fourth option on the depth chart, capable of stepping up when needed but unlikely to be a difference maker.
Graham Smith: The 24 year old draft pick has yet to impress for the senior team, starting 10 games and giving up 20 goals last year (including 7 to Zlatan and the Galaxy). Barring another injury disaster, Smith will likely find himself playing the whole season with SKCII, as the fifth center back on the depth chart.
Luis Martins: Brought in to replace Seth, Martins appears to have done what nobody has done before: actually replace Seth. Starting the final 9 games of the season, Martins flashed his potential on offense and appeared capable on defense. Martins will start at left back this season and will hope to provide that spark of offense on the left side that Vermes has been searching for, while improving upon 2019’s truly terrible defense.
Daniel Salloi: After leading the team in goals in 2018, Salloi suffered a pretty severe decline in production, only managing to find the back of the net once, in the second to last game of the season. By the way the team celebrated, you’d think we had just won the cup. Salloi was another player who lost time due to injury, getting hurt in CCL against Independiente. Daniel will surely look to rediscover his form this season, which should see him draw plenty of starts at left wing.
Gerso Fernandes: Gerso was another player hampered by injuries, breaking his left wrist in a game against New England. He had seized the starting role at left wing from Salloi after Daniel’s run of poor form, but wasn’t a clear-cut starter when he returned from injury. Gerso possesses speed that nobody else on the roster has, so he will definitely have a role to play. The battle between him and Salloi for the left wing remains open, and both will surely see plenty of minutes.
Eric Hurtado: Guess what happened to Hurtado in 2019? You’re right, he was injured. Sporting’s backup striker lost most of the season to injury, starting only 8 games, all after the season was pretty much over. It appears that the 29 year old will fall to third on the center forward depth chart.

The Kids

Jaylin Lindsey: After starting 6 games in 2018, Lindsey only started once for SKC in 2019. The reason? You guessed it - he got injured. Turning 20 this year, Lindsey will look to unseat Graham Zusi at right back, something that should be easy if Zusi plays as poorly as he did in 2019. Sporting a ton of personality, Lindsey is a fan-favorite and should at least get minutes rotationally, assuming he stays healthy.
Wan Kuzain Wan Kamal: Long-touted as the future of SKC’s defensive midfield, Kuzain missed his chance to get minutes with the first team by getting injured right when SKC needed players the most. Instead, he spent the entire season with SPR, often playing further ahead in the midfield than his preferred position. His passing accuracy of 88.4% shows his skill with the ball, and the 21 year old homegrown will look to have a breakout year with SKC II and potentially get minutes in the senior team’s crowded midfield.
Gianluca Busio: Sporting KC’s most promising prospect, 17-year-old Homegrown player Gianluca Busio, was the second-youngest player to ever sign an MLS contract, and is the second-youngest goal scorer in MLS history (thanks a lot, Freddy Adu). In his second full year as a professional, Busio took advantage of SKC’s injury situation by staying healthy, increasing his minutes from 153 in 2018 to 923 in 2019. While Busio occasionally looked lost, he more often did not look out of place playing with men significantly older than him. While he didn’t lock down a starting spot, Busio will look to improve on his minutes for the second consecutive year as part of a very crowded midfield.
Cameron Duke: The 11th homegrown player in SKC history, the 19 year old midfielder has been in the Sporting Academy since 2012, and has been part of the US youth national team at the U-14, U-15, U-16, and U-18 levels. Duke will almost certainly spend the entire year with SKC II.
Felipe Hernandez: Felipe Hernandez is the first player to go from a SKC Academy affiliate, to the SKC Academy, to the Swope Park Rangers and then to the first team. He’s been touted as the heir apparent to Roger Espinoza, and often looked the part while drawing tons of starts with SPR. He scored eight goals for the USL team, second only to the center forward. Hernandez has the potential to see some midfield time with the senior team, but look to see him spend the bulk of his time with SKC II
Tyler Freeman: The youngest player signed to the first team, Freeman spent the whole season fighting for minutes on a poor SPR team, starting only 12 games. The 17 year old forward will look to improve his minutes and production with SKC II this year.

2020 Preview

Things to Watch

WE GOT A STRIKER Mission accomplished. After spending years and years waiting for the ownership to open up their wallets and pay for a big-time number 9, they finally did it. And boy, did they do it. Sporting’s net spend on transfer fees heading into this offseason was approximately $4m. Alan Pulido reportedly cost $9.5m, or more than double that. If he can live up to his price tag and capitalize on the opportunities SKC regularly produces, Pulido will score a ton of goals.
What’s a defense? Unfortunately, all the goals in the world don’t mean much without a competent defense to back them up. 2019 was a horrible year for SKC’s usually stellar defense. They let in 67 goals, a mark only beaten by FC Cincinnati. Vermes has responded by bringing in two new center backs, Puncec and Reid, keeping Martins around after he started the last run of games last year, and letting everyone else get healthy over the long, long offseason. If SKC wants to be back in the postseason, the defense will have to massively, massively improve.
#PlayYourKids
The HashtagPlayYourKids movement had its ups and downs with SKC in 2019. A couple of kids missed out on opportunities due to injury, most notably Jaylin Lindsey and Wan Kuzain Wan Kamal. Busio managed to improve his MLS minutes substantially, however, and SKC fended off a couple of suitors to hold on to the extremely promising midfielder. If Vermes wants to boast one of the best academies in MLS, and he does, then he’ll have to give the kids some more time with the senior team, something he’s been criticized for not doing in the past. The players with the clearest path to minutes are Busio in the midfield and Lindsey at right back, along with Salloi at left wing, so expect to see those three to get a solid amount of time. There are seven total homegrowns on the roster, including Busio, Lindsey, Kuzain, Cameron Duke, Tyler Freeman, Felipe Hernandez, and Daniel Salloi.
Do the vets still have it? As the corollary to #PlayYourKids, SKC still has a number of older players on the team. The biggest question of this year might be “Was 2019 an aberration due to injury, or a sign of things to come for Besler, Roger, and Zusi?” While Vermes seems to be betting, at least initially, that the older guys still have what it takes, there are capable and hungry replacements waiting in the wings for them to slip up. This is likely the last window for trophies for those three all together, so they will have a strong desire to work hard and prove that they’re not completely over the hill yet.

Prognosis

There are a lot of open questions for this Sporting KC team, which means the range of outcomes is going to be wide.
Realistic Best Case Scenario Turns out, 2019 was entirely the fault of historic levels of injury! Sporting looks like the 2018 and early 2019 team, dominating with the ball, snuffing out counter-attacks, and scoring at will by committee. The team returns to the top of the Western Conference and is competitive throughout the playoffs, although not quite doing enough to win the whole thing - the roster construction isn’t quite there. The team does bring home a trophy, though, winning the USOC in a thrilling game.
Realistic Worst Case Scenario The veterans really are past it, the kids aren’t quite ready, and injuries do not stay away. The back line remains mediocre and Pulido can’t put the offense on his back. SKC misses the playoffs for the second year in a row, and calls for Peter’s job get much, much louder.
Realistic More Probable Scenario Injuries hurt in 2019, but they clearly weren’t the only problem. The defense improves from last year, but is just league average. The midfield is much better than last year, and 5 players play more than 1000 minutes, keeping everyone fresh and competitive. The front three really improves with the addition of Pulido, and SKC scores a ton of goals and is generally fun to watch. It’s enough to put SKC back in the playoffs, and even win a playoff game! Unfortunately, that’s where things end, as Sporting falls in the second round of the playoffs in a competitive game. They make a USOC run, but don’t win that either.
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Countdown to Kickoff 2020: Real Salt Lake

Welcome to the Real Salt Lake entry in the Countdown to Kickoff.

Basic info:
Full club Name: Real Salt Lake
Nicknames: RSL, The Claret and Cobalt
City: Sandy, Utah – suburb just South of Salt Lake City
Stadium: Rio Tinto Stadium (Capacity: 21,363) nickname ‘The RioT’ (also umbrella nickname for all supporters’ groups). As mentioned in prior years’ posts - home to some of the greatest mountain and sunset views in the league.
Owner: Dell Loy Hansen
General Manager: Elliott Fall
Head Coach: Freddy Juarez – 1st full season, (8-5-2, interim coach in 2019)
Competitive Rival: Sporting Kansas City (no cup affiliation, animosity began with 2011 preseason brawl instigated by Roger Espinoza against Javier Morales, peaked with 2013 MLS Cup Final, matchups still marked with aggressive and chippy play. Considered major rival due to history of both teams’ success and playoff matchups). MLS write-up here.
Geographical Rival: Colorado Rapids. Cup affiliation: Rocky Mountain Cup. Early years dominated by Colorado, then momentum flipped and has never returned. Rocky Mountain Cup scoreboard: RSL 11, Colorado 3, Tie 1 (Colorado retained cup due to tiebreaker)
Captain: Kyle Beckerman
USL Championship Affiliate: Real Monarchs SLC
NWSL Sister Club: Utah Royals FC
Official Mascot: Leo the Lion

Uniforms:

• Primary: Topographical – newly released for 2020
• Secondary: Glitch Kit – released 2019

2019 in Review

Final Standings: 16-13-5 (W-L-D), 53 pts, +5 GD, 3rd in the West
2019 definitely had a “Good, Bad, and Ugly” theme for Real Salt Lake. Fresh off thrilling 2018 playoff victory against LAFC and narrow loss to Sporting Kansas City in the Western semifinal the mood was optimistic coming into the 2019 preseason. Fans were ready to send off club legend Nick Rimando with glory as he announced the season would be his last and for the young guns that made up the majority of the roster to continue their upward progression.
The first month of the season, however, got off to a very bad start. RSL would end up with just 4 points from their first 5 games – including a spectacularly embarrassing loss at D.C. United that saw two players ejected with red cards. The team would make a slight rebound, thereafter, determined to make feast or famine of each game while going 6-6-1 over the next 3 months. Then came that fateful month of July.
RSL began the month winning 2 of their first 3 games, consistent with past seasons when they’d try to salvage their season for a playoff push. After a draw with Minnesota, the MLS regular season was interrupted by the newly created Leagues Cup, a competition between clubs from Liga MX and MLS. RSL drew Tigres and were dispatched with relative ease by the Mexican visitors. Then this happened. In what could only be described as the ugliest PR nightmare the club has faced, Coach Mike Petke was subsequently terminated 2 weeks later after a fan video leaked of owner Dell Loy Hansen criticizing the coach’s behavior and hinting at his firing.
Credit to interim coach Freddy Juarez and the squad, the team rallied instead of shrinking in the chaos and picked up 13 out of the next 18 available points, rocketing up the Western Conference standings. Two weeks after Petke’s firing, GM Craig Waibel and the club “mutually parted ways” in more fallout after texts revealed in Petke’s lawsuit found the former GM critical of the owner.
The emotion tank then appeared to empty in September as the team was only able to win one more game before the final 2 weeks of the season. Due to an incredibly competitive Western Conference, RSL was in danger of losing the playoff spot they had held onto for most of the second half of the season. The team dug deep and won both remaining games, at home against Houston and away against Vancouver (only their second-ever victory at BC Place), securing the 3rd seed in the Western Conference for the MLS Playoffs.
In the opening round, Real Salt Lake faced Portland, a team that had handed them 4 straight losses in the past 2 regular seasons. Letting the past be the past, RSL came out firing on all cylinders – only to be thwarted by Portland Goalkeeper Steve Clark for most of the first half (including this potential GOTY from DEFENDER Aaron Herrera). In a tough fought match, Jefferson Savarino found the game-winner in exhilarating fashion for RSL in the 87th minute.
For all the excitement on display in the first round against Portland, glory was not to be found in the quarterfinals away against the eventual champion Seattle Sounders. Probably the most notable event of the final game was Everton Luiz’s red card dismissal and off-field exit.

Pre-season Moves

Interim no more – New-ish Coach, GM, Assistant GM

Real Salt Lake owner Dell Loy Hansen went “All-in” on the “Building from within” concept when he announced the removal of interim tags for General Manager Elliott Fall and Head Coach Freddy Juarez. In a not-totally-unexpected move, newly retired defender, and long-time club stalwart, Tony Beltran was also introduced as Assistant General Manager. More on them later…

Players In

Guiseppe Rossi (F) – Former Team: Free Agent in 2019, Genoa (ITA) in 2018: American-born Italian International. Yes, THAT Guisseppe Rossi - the New Jersey kid that spurned the USMNT to play for Italy. In the early stages of his career the sky was the limit as he broke onto the world stage with Manchester United back in 2004. Since then, injuries have been unkind to him on stops at Villareal, Fiorentina, and Genoa. He has been with the team for the entire preseason and played in every game. He still oozes class all over the field, and if he can stay healthy, he has potential to be a transformational figure for RSL’s attack.
Justin Meram (LW/CAM) – Former Team: Atlanta United: American-born Iraqi International. Was class of the league player for Columbus from 2016-17. Trade to Orlando in 2018 brought that form to a screeching halt (like most talented players that have gone there recently, RIP Dom Dwyer). He was traded back to Columbus at the beginning of last year. After being unable to rejuvenate himself to prior levels of greatness, he was then traded again to Atlanta. He had a bit of resurgence with Atlanta with 4 goals in 14 appearances. Meram will add solid MLS experience and potential to make the left-wing starting role solely his.
Zac (with no ‘H’) MacMath (GK) – Former Team: Vancouver Whitecaps: MLS Journeyman who hasn’t been consistent starter since 2016 for the Colorado Rapids. Was a solid starter in Colorado before being benched when USMNT Legend Tim Howard returned to MLS. Minimal minutes with Vancouver Whitecaps last year.
Jeizon Ramirez (RW) – Former Team: Deportivo Tachira (VEN): 18-year-old Young Designated Player. Venezuelan International. Brought in to replace Savarino. Loads of potential but unfinished product on the wing. Likely eventual starter but will need to break into team.
Alvin Jones (RB) – Former Team: Oklahoma Energy (USL Championship): Trinidad and Tobago International. Most famous moment: Scoring THE goal that kept USMNT from going to 2018 World Cup. Depth signing to spell Aaron Herrera at RB for a few games this year.
Ashtone Morgan (LB) – Former Team: Toronto FC: Canadian International. Free Agent signing. Toronto FC Homegrown who had inconsistent playing time with the former MLS Cup champs (2 seasons with 18+ apps, 3 with <10 apps). Signed for experience and depth.
Milan Iloski (ATT) – Former Team: UCLA (NCAA): Homegrown signing. Recently graduated from UCLA. Utility man. Can play any position in attack. Rotational type player. Would not be surprised if he spends more time with Real Monarchs than RSL.
Christopher Garcia (F) – Former Team: RSL Academy: Homegrown signing. The 17-year-old had flashes of great potential and energy in preseason, more likely will spend season with Real Monarchs. He will be one to keep an eye on in the future. May break into gameday roster sooner rather than later.
Mikael Chang (ATT) – Former Team: Real Monarchs SLC (USL Championship): Rewarded for his consistent contributions from the wing with the USL champions. Not sure if he has enough talent to rise above a rotational depth player with the first team.
Re-signed: Kyle Beckerman, Luke Mulholland, Marcelo Silva, Donny Toia
Extended: Corey Baird
Loan made Permanent: Everton Luiz

Players Out

Nick Rimando (GK) – Retired: Club Legend. MLS record holder for career clean sheets, wins, saves, and appearances, MLS Cup winner x2 (2004, D.C. United; 2009, Real Salt Lake) and All-Star x5 (2011-2015)
Tony Beltran (RB) – Retired: Unable to return from knee injury (Badji is a monster), now RSL Assistant GM. MLS Cup winner (2009. Real Salt Lake)
Jordan Allen (F) – Retired: Unable to return from multiple injuries. RSL Homegrown.
Jefferson Savarino (RW) – Transferred to Atletico Mineiro (BRA): ~$2 million fee (club record)
Joao Plata (LW) – Contract not renewed: Unsigned Free Agent
Brooks Lennon (RW) – Traded to Atlanta United. RSL Homegrown.
Sebastian Saucedo (LW) – Contract not renewed, free transfer to Pumas (MEX): RSL Homegrown. Sad he couldn’t get more minutes last year. Is killing it so far in LigaMX.
Alex Horwath (GK) – Retired: Career-ending ACL injury, now part of RSL FO.
Danilo Acosta (LB) – Contract not renewed after loan to Orlando City: Signed by LA Galaxy (tore ACL few weeks ago ☹, get well soon Danny). RSL Homegrown.

The Front Office/Coach

Head Coach: Freddy Juarez
While Freddy Juarez’s hire wasn’t particularly flashy for outsiders, those within the organization have known the coach and abilities for quite a while. Originally hired as a youth coach at the Casa Grande campus in Arizona in 2010, he doggedly worked his way up to residential administrator prior to the academy moving to Herriman, Utah. Earning a reputation as an insatiable learner and groomer of talent, in 2015 he was selected as the first head coach for RSL’s USL affiliate the Real Monarchs. Within 2 years of starting that post, he was brought on as assistant coach with the RSL first team under Jeff Cassar. After Cassar’s firing later that year, his expertise was noticed, and he was kept on staff by new coach Mike Petke. Valued for his tactical acumen, Freddy filled in superbly after Petke’s suspension and dismissal, compiling an 8-5-2 record while achieving 3rd place in the Western Conference and a playoff quarterfinal showdown with the Sounders. Freddy knows this roster inside and out, a fact that gave him a step up on any outside candidate. Hopefully he can turn that knowledge into success as he has done at every other stop on the coaching career pyramid.
General Manager: Elliott Fall
At the ripe old age of 34 Elliott Fall has now become the youngest general manager in MLS. Don’t let his age deceive you, he has been working inside the organization for even longer than Freddy Juarez, getting his start as a front office intern in 2007. By 2013 he worked his way up to assistant GM under Craig Waibel. In this new role, he specialized in being the salary cap guru, mastering the intricate details of the league’s complicated salary cap structure and ‘-AM’ exceptions. Remarkably, despite a small market budget, Waibel and Fall consistently were able to find valuable budget pieces that allowed the team to punch above its weight. After the fallout of the Petke firing and Waibel’s ‘mutual decision’ to step away, Fall was handed the mantel to continue to build the team. In interviews, Fall’s enthusiasm shines when he talks about his love for his time within the organization. “It’s a huge job," Fall said. "It’s a lot of responsibility. This is a club that I’ve grown up in, a club that I’ve been a fan of and a club that I’ve worked my entire career in. I’m really excited to get going and start building a winner.” Early moves this offseason have been promising. A big criticism of the prior GM was losing many academy products for free to Europe or allowing players with value to run out their contracts and leave on free transfers. Fall appears to be learning from past mistakes and has already traded Brooks Lennon and transferred Jefferson Savarino for more money than we’ve made in the past… I can’t even remember how long. And we’ve started signing homegrowns at the age of 16 and 17. If he can continue to navigate the steep learning curve now that he is the man in-charge, RSL may have talent that is willing to stay for a long time.

The Roster:

Best Guess Gameday 18
Freddy Juarez seems committed to Petke’s 4-2-3-1 but has stated he will have 1-2 formations he routinely uses as the season goes on based on personnel (3 in the back perhaps?). It also needs to be stated this is the Starting XI out of the gate. I expect to see evolution by the end of the season. Petke was constantly criticized for playing players out of their natural positions with middling-to-poor results (Brooks Lennon RW to RB; Pablo Ruiz W to CDM, LB; Nick Besler CDM to CB). If the preseason is any indication, Freddy may have had a hand in that and may try similar tricks this year (Preseason: Herrera RB to RW; Glad CB to RB). To start the season, however, I expect Freddy to start the “tried-and-true” players he is familiar with.
 Damir Kreilach 
Justin Meram -- Albert Rusnak –- Corey Baird
 Everton Luiz -- Kyle Beckerman© 
Donny Toia -- Justen Glad -- Nedum Onuoha –- Aaron Herrera
 Zach MacMath 
Bench: Jeizon Ramirez, Sam Johnson, Nick Besler, Alvin Jones, Marcelo Silva, Guiseppi Rossi, Andrew Putna

The Starters

• F – Damir Kreilach – After a stellar 2018, Kreilach had a less productive 2019. A box-to-box midfielder by trade he has been the stable Center Forward option for the club due to lack of bodies and quality. Sam Johnson was meant to allow him to pair with Everton Luiz in midfield but that dream has yet to materialize.
• LW – Justin Meram – Journeyman whose past glories discussed above. May end up taking over as a starter on LW if Baird is ineffective, could also slot into backup CAM role. Playing well in preseason per reports. RSL seems to offer him a system (like Atlanta) that better plays to his strengths compared to previous teams. His preseason form has been influential which is why I think we find him on the field. As a result, Corey Baird moves to the right wing.
• CAM - Albert Rusnak – RSL’s all-time highest paid player has yet to live up to those lofty expectations. While he was the 2019 RSL Goldenboot winner with 10 goals, most of his goals came from the penalty spot. When fed the ball in the CAM role he is a dynamic force in making RSL’s offense click. The problem is that in years past the flow of the offense by-passes him for the wings or boom-balls. It will be interesting to see if he is tried on the wing this year (where he plays with the Slovakian national team) but for now he is used exclusively as a kind of ‘False 9’ duo with Kreilach in the middle of the park. If the team can return to feeding him the ball, he may yet reach MLS-best status. Time to earn that paycheck.
• RW – Corey Baird – Lightning quick, the 2018 MLS Rookie of the Year had a solid but bit less spectacular sophomore run. The coaches love his stamina as he keeps his legs deep into games. Often deployed on the left, he can also rotate as the central forward from time-to-time. With Meram playing so well on the left during preseason, I think he may be moved to the right-wing in an attempt to keep his speed on the field. He’s an outside USMNT team participant. If he can take his game to the next level and remain consistent, I’m excited to see where his legs carry him. UPDATE: Pulled hamstring in preseason. Out for few weeks.
• CDM – Everton Luiz – Was the MVP for the team for large portions of the season last year with some dominating performances. The aggressive ball-winner will once again be called upon to destroy and disrupt in the middle of the park. A yellow (or red) card is never far away with his high-energy style. Hopefully he can be pared with a true box-to-box partner to revitalize the midfield (Kreilach please!!!). UPDATE: Suspended for opening game vs Orlando
• CDM – Kyle Beckerman – Our Captain, and longest serving player on the team. Old Man Dreadlocks is more ‘old’ than ‘dreadlocked’ these days, but he can still put in a quality shift when rested. At 37 and with thousands of miles on those tires, the question over the past few years is how much he has left in the tank. Despite concerns with fatigue late in the season, Mike Petke (and Freddy Juarez during his interim stint) saw no issue riding him 90+ mins every game, even as his effectiveness waned. Everton Luiz has a similar skillset to younger-Kyle, yet the coaching staff loves to play them together. Whether rotating Kyle and trying someone with complementing talent would be more successful we will never know… for now, we bask in the Legend that is Captain Beckerman and hope to give him the ovation he deserves when he decides to hang them up. UPDATE: Injured in preseason, severity unknown, likely will miss game vs Orlando
• LB – Donny Toia – RSL’s first ever Homegrown player had a respectable return to the team last year. Originally signed to compete for the LB he quickly locked it down and was a stable presence on the defense. Something 2018 RSL was sorely lacking. While offensively limited from the wing that still doesn’t stop him from attempting an occasional 40-yard rocket. I had him locked in again this year at LB but his preseason thus far has been atrocious in the few streamed exhibition games. Hopefully whatever issues he’s having are left in Arizona.
• CB – Justen Glad – It’s incredible that at the age of 22 Justen is entering his 7th season with the first team. While there were fears of stalled potential a few years ago last year was a happy return to showcasing exactly what has landed him on the radar of the USMNT. He quick pace and ability to recover allows RSL’s midfield to push forward with the attack, knowing he can chase down all but the speediest of forwards around the league. Always battling with Marcelo Silva for the second CB spot, is this the year he claims it for good?
• CB – Nedum Onuoha – One of the most fascinating members of the team, Nedum’s deep experience with various levels of English soccer immediately played dividends in stabilizing a shaky RSL backline. No matter who he is paired with at centerback, he seems to bring out the best in them. In addition, he is a quality and deep dude, offering his own podcast where he brings on current and former teammates along with pop culture friends he’s met during his career. He’s promised more set piece goals for himself this year, I’m hoping that pans out.
• RB – Aaron Herrera – The young RB has been a revelation and was quick to step into the position long-held by club veteran Tony Beltran. It has been exciting to see him not only lock down the right side defensively but also be able to recover quickly enough when pressing with the attack. If he continues on his current trajectory, I would not be surprised to see his name on future USMNT lineups. You go A-a-ron.
• GK – Zach MacMath – As discussed earlier, having not played consistently since 2016 we don’t truly know what we have with MacMath. Judging by the lineups seen this preseason he seems to be Keeper #1 going into the season. With that said, he hasn’t inspired confidence with a few shaky outings thus far. It is preseason, and he never appeared to play with his first-choice defense, but if he can’t clean it up, he may lose the starter’s job quickly with Putna and Ochoa in the wings.

The Bench

ATTACKERS:
• F - Sam Johnson – The “Blessed Boy” made many RSL fans eager for more as he got off to a hot start as a “super sub” last year, scoring every time he came on the pitch. Picked up and injury and was never able to settle with the team as starting center forward. Appears to have come into preseason with poor conditioning which won’t win him any favors with the coaching staff. We may not see true form until May/June. Interesting fact: Sam has 2 twin Gold Chrome Chevy Camaros - one in SLC and the other at his home in his native Liberia. UPDATE Sam had knee injury in offseason, did not participate in any preseason games. Coaching hoping he'd be farther along.
• RW – Jeizon Ramirez – The young South American may end up being the answer on the right wing, but like his predecessor he may need some time to become any kind of a game changer. UPDATE: Due to visa issues, just arrived in SLC on Feb 28
• F/W - Tate Schmitt – Second-year attacker has shown promise but was unable to secure significant minutes with the first team. He did have success with Monarchs which is where he will likely get his playing time again this year.
• CAM/F/W – Milan Iloski – Newcomer discussed above. I expect him to see some minutes with RSL largely in Open Cup games or garbage time. Will likely see more time and development at Monarchs.
• F – Douglas Martinez – Former NYRB academy player took the USL by storm with the Monarchs in the first half of the season last year. This led to a full first team contract. Unfortunately, he had limited time and was never able to link up well with the other members of RSL’s attack. With a full preseason to work on chemistry, Martinez is hoping to show MLS exactly why he was brought up.
• W – Mikael Chang – Discussed above. Another Monarchs stalwart and USL Champion. Chang was signed to a first team contract this offseason. I anticipate he likely will see spotty minutes with RSL.
• F – Luis Arriaga – 19-year-old homegrown player was originally signed in 2018. Most of his playing time thus far has been with Real Monarchs. I expect that to continue this year.
• F – Julian Vasquez – 18-year-old homegrown player. Mexican Youth International. Julian signed at a young age understanding that most of his playing time would be with Real Monarchs so he could cut his professional teeth. Future is still bright, but I doubt he will have a huge impact this year.
• F – Christopher Garcia – Discussed above. 17-year-old homegrown. Instantly drew eyes with his time on the field during preseason. Another one likely spending development time with Real Monarchs.
• F – Guiseppe Rossi – Preseason reports have been glowing with praise for the veteran, especially with the partnership he has found with fellow new addition Justin Meram. I wouldn’t be surprised if he ends up starting as a False 9 once he gains more fitness. I see him filling the role Sam Johnson was meant to do (allowing Kreilach to go back to midfield).
MIDFIELDERS:
• M/W - Pablo Ruiz – Young Argentine winger was poorly used at a variety of positions (CDM, LB) prior to his loan last season to FC Pinzgau Saalfelden of the Austrian 3rd division (interesting American-owned club deserving a look - The Athletic article). He thrived on loan in more attacking positions against competition there (9 goals in 15 appearances). Should he be allowed to play a similar role at RSL, he may yet prove to be the asset RSL saw glimpses of when first-signed from Argentina.
• CDM - Nick Besler – Appears to be heir-apparent to share minutes at CDM as Kyle Beckerman transitions out. Was coming into his own as a very capable midfielder before getting injury for second half of last year. No, he is not a centerback like his more well-known brother, no matter what Mike Petke believes…
• CDM – Luke Mulholland – I am surprised as anyone to see this name on the roster. 2019 began on the injured list for Luke as he dealt with chronic back issues. He eventually returned to the team to play a grand total of 19 minutes. He was sent down to the Real Monarchs where he had a pivotal role in leading the team to its first USL Championship Championship (not a misprint). If anything, as he was rarely used by RSL I imagined him being signed to an exclusive Monarchs contract. I was wrong. I still see little opportunity for him with RSL so more than likely he will be effectively a Monarchs player as they look to repeat.
• M – Justin Portillo – Another fringe first team player. Had 4 appearances with RSL in 2019, one of them for a matter of minutes after he was awarded a red card versus LAFC. Played in 16 games for Real Monarchs with 2 goals. Has been matched up with Kyle Beckerman in central midfield during preseason games with disastrous results. Doesn’t appear to be a player that will stay at the MLS level for much longer.
DEFENDERS:
• CB - Marcelo Silva – Silva’s return was never a sure thing this offseason. His re-signing (and pay cut) gives the defense an unspectacular but proven veteran who already pairs well with the other two starters Glad and Onuoha. He seems to fit better with Onuoha which is why Glad often rotates the starting spot with him.
• CB - Eric Holt – Second-year homegrown player. Spotty minutes last year. I expect to see minutes increase this year. Has been praised by teammates for his work ethic and quirky personality. Was solid member of Monarchs defense last year.
• RB - Alvin Jones – Discussed above. Depth signing to offer competition and rotation options at RB. Had so-so showing thus far in preseason.
• LB - Ashtone Morgan – Discussed above. See entry for Alvin Jones except on the left. Has not looked good thus far. Willing to give him time to gel with team before final verdict. With Toia not impressing thus far, LB position may be open if he can put it together.
GOALKEEPERS:
• GK - Andrew Putna – Backup keeper behind Nick Rimando last year. Did a decent to good job in the games he was called upon. I expect MacMath to have a short leash and ultimately, I can see the starters spot falling to Putna.
• GK – David Ochoa – 19-year-old homegrown. Rotated starting keeper duties with Real Monarchs during the regular season before locking down the position for the USL playoff run. Has a healthy competitive fire that spills into his play (and conversation with opponents). He looks to be long-term answer in goal for RSL, question is does he claim it this year or farther down the road?
• ________________________________________

5 Unanswered Questions for the Season

  1. Who is going to score?
  2. Who will finally end up as starter in goal?
  3. Will Rusnak live up to his potential?
  4. Will Ramirez develop quickly enough to replace Savarino’s production?
  5. Will Beckerman’s role change this season?
  6. We have the cap space/GAM/TAM. Who is coming in the Summer? ________________________________________

Season Prognostication

Best Case Scenario

New additions and last year’s signings come good and give RSL a potent and versatile attacking group. A strength of prior years was no one player was responsible for the majority of RSL’s scoring, making it hard for defenses to focus on any one player. This trend continues and the FO bolsters it by using our luscious cap space to sign a bonafide attacker (likely center forward) in the summer who loves to score. Rusnak makes good on becoming a maestro in the middle. Defense remains stout and MacMath or Putna or Ochoa prove fill in quite well for departed Nick Rimando. RSL remains competitive and surprises everyone by finishing second in the West.

Worst Case Scenario

Well, besides having Round 2 of Mike Petke’s 2019, I’d say if preseason is any indication it’s that Freddy Juarez gets cute, plays multiple players out-of-position causing chaos (not the good kind) in the final third and dooming RSL’s attack to ineptitude. By the time experimentation is done and he reverts to playing people at their strongest positions RSL is too far out of the playoff picture for it to matter. Of course, he could still play players in their preferred position and the offense could struggle. Especially if we fail to sign additional offensive talent in the summer. Throw in that MacMath has looked terrible between the posts in the preseason and we may be at the bottom of the table looking up. We will see.

Realistic Scenario

I think we will see experimentation by Freddy, but like last year, RSL has the talent to stay competitive over the long run. We finished 3rd in the West in 2019 with largely the same roster up the spine. Staying dangerous from the wings will make or break the year IMO. I anticipate further offensive signings in the summer. Probably a winger, because with RSL, it’s always a winger. I think RSL struggles on offense, does well enough on defense once goalkeeper is settled (which I think will end up being Putna), and somehow backs into one of the final playoff spots in the West. We take a step back and lose in the first round of the playoffs.

Online Resources

Website
Twitter
Facebook
RSL subreddit
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Countdown to Kickoff 2020: Minnesota United FC

Welcome to the Loons entry in the Countdown to Kickoff.
Team Sub: MinnesotaUnited
Past Previews: 2019 2017

Basic Info

Club Name: Minnesota United FC
Location: Minneapolis/St Paul, Minnesota
Stadium: Allianz Field
Head Coach: Adrian Heath (4th year)
Captain: Ozzie Alonso
Majority Owner: Dr. Bill McGuire
USL Affiliate: Forward Madison FC
Kits:

Club History

The franchise that is now Minnesota United was born in 2010, with the creation of the Minnesota Stars. They played in the now-defunct North American Soccer League, winning the championship in 2011. In 2012, current owner Bill McGuire bought the team, and in 2013 the team rebranded to the name and crest that are still used today.
The Loons continued to play in the NASL, with home games at Blaine’s National Sports Center. During this time, “Wonderwall” began to be sung after victories in a tradition that endures to this day. In 2015 the team was given a spot in MLS. In 2017, the Loons played their first home game at the University of Minnesota's TCF Bank Stadium, where they would play games for the rest of the 2017 and 2018 seasons. After the 2018 season, the club announced an affiliation with newly founded USL Side Forward Madison. Madison are known as the Flamingos and have one of the coolest jerseys in all of American soccer.
In 2019, the Loons got their own MLS home in Allianz field, a new, soccer-specific stadium situated in the Midway neighborhood of St. Paul. The stadium saw its first match in March, 2019, and features room for 19,400 of the Loons faithful, real grass, and a safe standing supporters’ section dubbed the Wonderwall.
As for the aforementioned Loons faithful, they gather into a number of supporters groups, including Dark Clouds, True North Elite, Red Loons, Mill City Ultras, OpuLoons, and Dark Glitterati. All the supporters groups (except OpuLoons) come together under the organization "Wonderwall," which coordinates joint efforts including making tifos, charity/volunteer work, and defining codes of conduct.
Earlier this month, the Loons got their first “wing kit” since the NASL days, featuring the wing of the Loon from the club’s crest. It has been met with mixed reactions, as the decision to only include 3 feathers and the “toddler with crayons” texture are not especially popular with the fans. It is, however, the long-anticipated Return of the Wing, and it’s hard to argue it’s not one of the best kits the team has had since joining MLS.

2019 Summary In 5 Matches

1. NYCFC at Minnesota United, April 13, 2019 (Highlights)
The Loons’ exciting first match at Allianz Field finished in a 3-3 tie, with now-captain Ozzie Alonso scoring the first goal in the new home of Minnesota Soccer. The game was watched by the first of many sellout crowds.
2. FC Dallas at Minnesota United, July 13, 2019 (Highlights)
This western conference contest remained scoreless until stoppage time, with Loons striker Mason Toye putting the Loons in front in the 90’+1. Unfortunately, just minutes later, VAR agonizingly awarded the visitors with a penalty. In one of the most electrifying moments of the season, keeper Vito Mannone saved Rito Ziegler’s attempt to extend the Loons’ winning streak to four games.
3. Portland Timbers at Minnesota United (USOC), August 7, 2019 (Highlights)
The Loons played host to the Timbers in the US Open Cup semifinal to determine who would travel to face Atlanta in the competition’s final, with a spot in the Champions’ League on the line. A Darwin Quintero penalty in the 22’ put the Loons in front, but just before halftime Brian Fernandez put the Timbers level on a play many Loons fans felt was offside. In the 64’, Mason Toye got on the end of a long Kevin Molino through ball and fired the ball into the net to send the Loons to Atlanta.
4. Sporting KC at Minnesota United, September 25, 2019 (Highlights)
The penultimate home match of the regular season saw the Loons looking to lock up their first ever playoff berth. Things got off to a rocky start, with Kansas City’s Botond Barath scoring as early as the 6th minute. A 70’ goal from Ozzie Alonso evened things out, and then breakout rookie Hassani “Bangers Only” Dotson sent the Loons into the playoffs with a 90’ minute strike. Commentator Callum Williams’ chilling call still resonates through the Twin Cities, “Hold that back page! Just when you thought you’d seen it all, you ain’t seen nothing yet!”
5. LA Galaxy at Minnesota United, (Playoffs), October 20, 2019 (Highlights)
Fans packed Allianz field for the club’s first ever playoff game against Zlatan Imbrahimovic’s LA Galaxy. A late goal from Ján Greguš was not enough for the Loons to overcome a double salvo by Sebastian Lletget and Jonathan dos Santos of the Galaxy. Despite the painful defeat, the match still marked an important milestone for the club and had one of the best atmospheres all season.

Transfers Out

GK Vito Mannone - 2019 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year ends loan, returns to English side Sunderland. Currently on loan again to Danish side Esbjerg FB
GK Bobby Shuttleworth - Starter for most of 2017 and all of 2018 let go on a free, signs with Chicago Fire
CB/CM Lawrence Olum - Useful rotationional player released on a free, signs with USLC side Miami FC
CB Wyatt Omsberg - 24 year old backup traded to Chicago Fire for LB/LW Raheem Edwards
LB Wilfried Moimbe-Tahrat - One of two main starters at LB last year deemed not worth an international spot, released on a free, currently unsigned
RB Eric Miller - 26 year old backup traded to NYCFC for 55,000 GarberBucks
RB Carter Manley - 23 year old backup released on a free, currently unsigned
CM Rasmus Schuller - 28 year old former starter released on a free, signs with Finnish side HJK Helsinki
CM Collin Martin - 25 year old backup released on a free, signs with USLC side San Diego Loyal
RM Miguel Ibarra - Fan-favorite since NASL days released on a free after a lackluster 2019, signs with Seattle Sounders
CAM Darwin Quintero - DP playmaker and Loons all time leading MLS goal scorer traded to Houston Dynamo for RM Marlon Hairston and 600,000 GarberBucks
F Abu Danladi - Former #1 overall draft pick selected by Nashville SC in 2020 expansion draft
F Angelo Rodriguez - DP Striker was one of two main starters last year. Released on a free, signs with Colombian side Deportivo Cali

Transfers In

GK Tyler Miller - 2019 LAFC starter acquired in exchange for 200,000 GarberBucks
GK Greg Ranjitsingh - Orlando backup shot stopper acquired through end-of-season waiver draft
GK Fred Emmings - 16 year old academy product becomes the Loons’ first home grown signing
CB Jose Aja - 26 year old with MLS experience signed on a free from Chilean side Union Española
LB/RB Noah Billingsley - First round pick in 2020 SuperDraft can play a number of positions, captained the UCSB Gauchos in college
D/M Andrew Booth - FIU product selected in 4th round of 2020 SuperDraft
LB/LM Raheem Edwards - 24 year old MLS Cup winner acquired from Chicago Fire in exchange for Wyatt Omsberg
CM James Musa - 27 year old veteran signed from USLC side Phoenix Rising for an unknown fee
CM Jacori Hayes - Rotational player for FC Dallas acquired via trade in exchange for a 2021 3rd round pick
RM Marlon Hairston - 25 year old acquired from Houston Dynamo as part of Darwin Quintero trade
F Luis Amarilla - 24 year old Paraguayan striker acquired from Argentinian side Velez Sarsfield on a loan with option to buy
F Aaron Schoenfield - Veteran forward with the fantastic nickname “Big Celery” joins the Loons from Israeli side Maccabi Tel Aviv on a free transfer

Preseason Roster

*Denotes new acquisition
Goalkeepers Defenders Midfielders Forwards
Fred Emmings* Jose Aja* Osvaldo Alonso (C) Luis Amarilla*
Dayne St. Clair Noah Billingsley* Andrew Booth* Matthew Bentley*
Greg Ranjitsingh* Michael Boxall Thomas Chacon Aaron Schoenfield*
Tyler Miller* Hassani Dotson Raheem Edwards* Mason Toye
Chase Gasper Ethan Finlay
Brent Kallman Ján Greguš
Romain Metanire Marlon Hairston
Ike Opara Jacori Haynes*
Robin Lod
Kevin Molino
James Musa*

Predicted Starting XI

Click here if things don't line up on mobile
--------------------Amarilla--------------------
-----Lod----------Molino--------Finlay-----
-----------Greguš----------Alonso----------
Gasper---Boxall----Opara---Metanire
---------------------Miller----------------------
Subs: Greg Ranjitsingh, Jose Aja, Noah Billingsley, Hassani Dotson, Thomas Chacon, Marlon Hairston, Mason Toye

Looking Ahead to 2020

The Loons hope to build on a successful 2019 by returning to playoffs and actually winning when they get there. The losses of Manonne and Quintero sting, but Adrian Heath’s squad hope Miller and Amarilla will be able to replace or exceed their production. A returning back six that played solid all year should keep the Loons from allowing too many goals, but the team will only go as far as the offense can take them.

Key Players

Not necessarily the most best players in the squad, but the ones whose impact will determine how far the Loons go in 2020.
Tyler Miller - Filling Vito Mannone’s shoes will be a tall task, but Loons fans hope Miller will be up to it. If he can replicate Mannone’s success of last year, defense will remain a strength for the team to fall back on. If he’s not able to match Mannone or come close, it will seriously hurt the team’s hope of hosting another playoff game.
Louis Amarilla - Amarilla boldly promised Adrian Heath 25 goals in 2020 upon arrival. For context, Loons all time leading scorer Darwin Quintero has scored 21 in two years. If Amarilla is able to score even 15 goals, it would be huge for the offense. Whether he’s able to score along these lines is anyone’s guess, but may more than anything determine whether the team can make a deep run in the playoffs.
Thomas Chacon - The team spent a lofty $3.96 million to buy Chacon, which looks a little worrisome when you consider he’s played just 84 minutes for the team, but the 19-year-old’s immense potential for the future justifies his cost for now. With Quintero gone, the team has a lot of productivity to replace in the attacking midfield. Chacon will be expected to eventually fill that role (or that production, if he ends up playing on the wing), and if he can do so in 2020, it would be a huge help to the team.

(Realistic) Worst Case Scenario

Luis Amarilla proves to be a bust, and Mason Toye fails to match his 2019 form, leading the offense to sputter. Young DP Thomas Chacon fails to do much, handicapped by his diminutive size, and Finnish winger Robin Lod continues his slow form of 2019. Defensively, the aging back four regress from 2019, and Miller is a far cry from the high standard of goalkeeping set by Mannone. The Loons stumble to a finish only slightly better than the dismal 2017 and 2018, well short of the playoffs, and the calls for Adrian Heath’s firing grow in number and volume.

(Realistic) Best Case Scenario

Luis Amarilla comes close to or actually delivers on his promise of 25 goals, leading a prolific Loons offense. Young DP Thomas Chacon begins to blossom, and Finnish winger Robin Lod recovers from a slow 2019 to contribute offensively. Defensively, the back four remain as solid as ever, and Miller is able to pick up where Mannone left off in goal. The Loons cruise to another home playoff match, narrowly missing the #1 seed and first round bye, and are able to finally win a playoff game. It would certainly be a long shot to even come near the final, but if everything falls into place, the team just might be able to reach or even win it with a great deal of luck.
submitted by tryagainyesterday to MLS [link] [comments]

Game Thread: Kansas City Chiefs (5-1) at Oakland Raiders (2-4)

Kansas City Chiefs at Oakland Raiders
First Second Third Fourth Final
Chiefs 10 10 10 0 30
Raiders 14 0 7 10 31
  • General information
Coverage Odds
CBS Kansas City -3 O/U 46½
Weather
60°F/Wind 8mph/Light rain/0% chance of rain
Headlines Communities
Raiders LB NaVorro Bowman to start vs. Chiefs on TNF /oaklandraiders
Raiders plan to start NaVorro Bowman tonight /kansascitychiefs
  • Game Stats
Passing Cmp/Att Yds Ints Tds
D.Carr 29/52 417 0 3
A.Smith 25/36 342 0 3
Rushing Car Yds Lng Tds
D.Washington 9 33 11 1
K.Hunt 18 87 34 0
Receiving Rec Yds Lng Tds
A.Cooper 11 210 45 2
T.Hill 6 125 64 1
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Game Thread: Kansas City Chiefs (11-5) at New England Patriots (12-4)

Kansas City Chiefs at New England Patriots
  • Gillette Stadium
  • Foxborough, Massachusetts
First Second Third Fourth Final
Chiefs 3 3 7 7 20
Patriots 7 7 7 6 27
  • General information
Coverage Odds
CBS New England -5 O/U 43½
Weather
35°F/Wind 2mph/Fai0% chance of rain
Headlines Communities
Offensive innovator Ted Marchibroda dies at 84 /patriots
Jeremy Maclin faces 'uphill battle' to play vs. Patriots /kansascitychiefs
  • Game Stats
Passing Cmp/Att Yds Ints Tds
T.Brady 28/42 302 0 2
A.Smith 29/50 246 0 1
Rushing Car Yds Lng Tds
S.Jackson 6 16 8 0
C.West 17 61 17 1
Receiving Rec Yds Lng Tds
J.Edelman 10 100 14 0
J.Avant 4 69 26 0
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submitted by NFL_Mod to nfl [link] [comments]

Game Thread: Kansas City Chiefs (11-5) at New England Patriots (12-4) (Second half)

Kansas City Chiefs at New England Patriots
  • Gillette Stadium
  • Foxborough, Massachusetts
First Second Third Fourth Final
Chiefs 3 3 7 7 20
Patriots 7 7 7 6 27
  • General information
Coverage Odds
CBS New England -5 O/U 43½
Weather
35°F/Wind 2mph/Fai0% chance of rain
Headlines Communities
Offensive innovator Ted Marchibroda dies at 84 /patriots
Jeremy Maclin faces 'uphill battle' to play vs. Patriots /kansascitychiefs
  • Game Stats
Passing Cmp/Att Yds Ints Tds
T.Brady 28/42 302 0 2
A.Smith 29/50 246 0 1
Rushing Car Yds Lng Tds
S.Jackson 6 16 8 0
C.West 17 61 17 1
Receiving Rec Yds Lng Tds
J.Edelman 10 100 14 0
J.Avant 4 69 26 0
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Tyreek Hill update (Disturbing content)

New information about the Tyreek Hill situation is being released by local a Kansas City CBS news affiliate. It contains disturbing language, so I am not going to quote the tweets. Here they are for anyone who is interested:
https://twitter.com/MattVerderame/status/1121548401907261447
https://twitter.com/bepryostatus/1121549982040055813
https://twitter.com/ByNateTaylostatus/1121550455568502785
https://twitter.com/MySportsUpdate/status/1121552521787367424
What will the Chiefs and the NFL do?
submitted by ColtsStampede to Colts [link] [comments]

[Game Thread] #4 Purdue @ #1 Kansas (9:39 PM ET)

Purdue 66 @ 98 Kansas - FINAL

NCAA Basketball

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Purdue #4 Purdue (27-8) @ Kansas #1 Kansas (31-4)
Tip-Off: 9:39 PM ET
Venue: Sprint Center, Kansas City, Missouri
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Television: CBS
Streams: March Madness Live ncaaBBallStreams
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submitted by cbbBot to CollegeBasketball [link] [comments]

[Game Thread] #7 Michigan @ #3 Oregon (7:09 PM ET)

Michigan 68 @ 69 Oregon - FINAL

NCAA Basketball

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Michigan #7 Michigan (26-12) @ Oregon #3 Oregon (32-5)
Tip-Off: 7:09 PM ET
Venue: Sprint Center, Kansas City, Missouri
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Television: CBS
Streams: March Madness Live ncaaBBallStreams
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submitted by cbbBot to CollegeBasketball [link] [comments]

Game Thread: Kansas City Chiefs (8-3) at Atlanta Falcons (7-4)

Kansas City Chiefs at Atlanta Falcons
First Second Third Fourth Final
Chiefs 6 14 7 2 29
Falcons 10 6 0 12 28
  • General information
Coverage Odds
CBS Atlanta -5½ O/U 50
Weather
44°F/Wind 15mph/Heavy rain/13mm precipitation expected
Headlines Communities
Jeremy Maclin out at Atlanta /falcons
Injuries: Chiefs' Maclin, Texans' Clowney out Sunday /kansascitychiefs
  • Game Stats
Passing Cmp/Att Yds Ints Tds
M.Ryan 22/34 297 1 1
A.Smith 21/25 270 0 1
Rushing Car Yds Lng Tds
D.Freeman 15 56 14 2
A.Wilson 1 55 55 1
Receiving Rec Yds Lng Tds
J.Jones 7 113 21 0
T.Kelce 8 140 35 0
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Battleground Tracker: Latest polls, state of the race and more; 5 things to know about CBS News' 2020 Battleground Tracker; Battleground Tracker: COVID reshapes presidential race in Sun Belt KMBC 9 News is your source for the latest local headlines and live alerts. Visit Kansas City's most reliable source for breaking news. Kansas City News, Weather, Sports, Traffic and Entertainment from 41 Action News. 1 killed injured after crash in Kansas City, Missouri. Kari Williams 9:49 PM, Jul 13, 2020 . The latest Kansas City headlines, including breaking news, in-depth investigations and hyper-local stories that matter to the people of Kansas and Missouri. One dead in 3-vehicle crash in Kansas City, Kansas News / 4 hours ago. Video. Family grieves loss of Kansas City, Kansas man gunned down in garage News / 8 hours ago. Video.

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