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  • Writer's pictureSoccer Down Here

Champions League is back, Boston is back in the NWSL, and more: Starting Lineup, September 19

by Jason Longshore

1- Eight games kickoff the UEFA Champions League this afternoon. Milan-Newcastle will get most of the attention in the 12:45pm slot. Some interesting matches at 3pm including a struggling PSG hosting Dortmund, Lazio hosting Atletico Madrid, Shakhtar hosting Porto in Germany, and Feyenoord hosting Celtic.

Your top three favorites to win the competition this year (according to FanDuel Sportsbook) are Manchester City at +200, Bayern at +600, and Real Madrid at +850.

2- The NWSL, Boston mayor Michelle Wu, and the Boston Unity Soccer Partners ownership group have announced a Tuesday afternoon press conference to introduce an expansion club that will start play in 2026. According to reports, their expansion fee with by $53M, the same as Bay Area FC. According to Sportico, they'll spend roughly that same amount on stadium renovations for White Stadium in Boston, a separate training facility, and operating costs. The Boston Unity Soccer Partners group, led by Jennifer Epstein, has almost all female investors.

3- Jennifer Hermoso was not named in Spain’s squad to face Sweden and Switzerland in upcoming matches, but 20 players who signed a letter refusing to play the two fixtures have been included. The majority of Spain’s World Cup-winning squad refused to be called up for the Women’s Nations League matches as players continue to push for “real structural changes” in Spanish soccer, following the fallout from ex-soccer boss Luis Rubiales’ unwanted kiss on La Roja star Hermoso. Manager Montse Tomé's first roster is only going to create more issues now.

When asked about Hermoso’s absence on the list, Tomé said she wanted to protect the star for now. “First of all, I want to say that we’re with Jenni in everything and with all the players,” added Tomé, who was reticent to talk in detail about conversations she had had with players.

The longer all of this lingers, the more complicated it will get to resolve. If the federation threatens the players (there are statutes that make it illegal to refuse to play) to get them to accept their call-up, then nothing has changed. Hopefully the players are able to speak with the right people at the federation who can help lead the process to more meaningful change. However, the players will lose the progress from winning the World Cup and the power that has to change women's football in Spain if this becomes the story instead.

4- Montreal's Matko Miljevic has had his contract terminated by MLS for "engaging in conduct detrimental to the league and violating his Standard Player Agreement." Reports surfaced last week that he played in a local amateur league under a fake name and was banned for life for punching an opponent in the face. He previously played for Argentinos Juniors after growing up in Argentina, he was born in Miami.

5- According to reports, Julian Nagelsmann will give up his guaranteed money to take a pay cut to join the German national team ahead of their hosting of Euro 2024. It will be a short-term contract through the end of the tournament next summer. Hansi Flick was fired after his side's 4-1 loss to Japan. Nagelsmann himself was fired by Bayern in March after signing a 5-year deal in July 2021. I'm assuming Nagelsmann is anxious to get back into the game, but this feels like a huge risk to give up guaranteed money through the summer of 2026 for a short-term deal with a team that hasn't looked all that strong for a while.

6- There are reports in New England that Tab Ramos, who was let go as manager of Hartford Athletic of the USL Championship earlier this year, will be joining the Revolution's first team coaching staff as an assistant to interim manager Clint Peay. The Revs lost over the weekend to dreadful Colorado, Ramos would help with MLS experience due to his recent tenure in Houston.

7- Looking ahead to Atlanta United's trip to DC for tomorrow's match, keep this in mind about the hosts. They have had three straight clean sheets in MLS play, they haven't conceded a goal in September. They are 1-0-2 in those matches, defeating Chicago 4-0 on September 2nd at home and followed up with back-to-back scoreless draws (at home vs. San Jose, last Saturday on the road in Charlotte).

8- Club América Femenil have announced one of the biggest signings of this Apertura season with Kheira Hamraoui moving to Mexico City. The 33-year-old from France will bolster the América midfield with her enormous offensive quality and experience. As the NWSL grows, it has to keep an eye on Liga MX and the signings its clubs have made. Competition can be good for both sides... perhaps a Leagues Cup between the two to replace the NWSL Challenge Cup structure?

9- 777 Partners, who announced plans to buy Everton last week, have given the club a sizable loan in the tens of millions. Construction costs are mounting for the new Bramley-Moore Dock stadium site. The loan is a way around the Premier Leagues rules preventing direct investment via an equity injection while the approval process is ongoing, the funs will help with stadium build and operating costs for the club.

10- On this date in 2018, one of the wildest wins in Atlanta United history took place in San Jose as the 5 Stripes came back from 3-1 down to defeat the Quakes 4-3. Enjoy this wild ride if you've forgotten...

11- On this day in 1952, Nile Rodgers was born. He's a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Songwriters Hall of Fame member and is one of the most influential guitarists and composers of modern times. You know many of his songs, even if you don't know his career. Check out this medley of some of his best-known hits:

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