Freedom Kicks: D.C. United and MLS Links for Friday, March 14, 2014

Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

On this bye-week eve, Freedom Kicks checks in on a cold DC practice, an injured Red, a Colombian striker, and a week-old lockout.

No DCU this weekend.  Bye week is upon us.  It's the eye of the hurricane, that aching void in your heart, that hole in your donut, that dreamless sleep.  But freedom kicks does not sleep.  Freedom kicks is awake.  Freedom kicks wants to talk about it.

Training Notes: March 13, 2014 | D.C. United:  Other than Luis Silva getting fined yesterday for diving on a video that was -ahem- obvious and clear (unlike other videos of "fouls" in that game-which-we-shall-never-speak-of-again), the main D.C. United news yesterday was that Victor Munoz was cut, the rest of the team practiced, and it was cold.  If practicing in the cold constitutes a bonding exercise, I'm all for it.  But somehow, I'd rather see the team dropped in the middle of nowhere with a pocketknife, a plastic bowl, a rubber band, and a mirror, and told to survive until next Friday, when their ride to Toronto shows up.  Right now, team-building and communication exercises might have a bigger payoff than regular old field practice.

Report: Toronto FC striker Gilberto doesn't travel, will miss opener against Seattle Sounders | MLSsoccer.com;  I guess we'll face Michael Bradley in Toronto next Saturday.  Gilberto the "prized Brazilian"?  Less clear.

Paid Their Dues: Mapp Makes Team of the Week | Brotherly Game:  Last year, on the loud side of RFK, we used to shake our fists and angrily shout "PAH - HOY!" whenever the assistant referee raised a flag.  I still do that whenever I see someone raising or waving a flag.  It's like a nervous tic.  And it didn't go over well at last fall's Silver Spring Thanksgiving Day Parade, let me tell you.  Anyway, our sister site a few stops north on the Acela reports the following on a Colombian club :  "La Equidad is undefeated in their last seven, but Lionard Pajoy has only played in two of those games. They should play him less."

Herbalife problem doesn’t look good for LA Galaxy, Major League Soccer | ProSoccerTalk:  The Federal Trade Commission is investigating Herbalife.  This is supposed to embarrass Don Garber.

Aron Johannsson scores penalty kick in Europa League win | Goal.com:  Okay, it was a penalty kick.  But I'm getting more and more excited about this Icelander playing for us in Brazil come June.

And now, for the record, let's get up to speed on the lockout...

MLS, referees resume negotiations in lockout - ESPN FC:  The PRSA and PRO were back at the bargaining table on Wednesday and Thursday, after PRO had, according to PRSA, "unilaterally cancelled" negotiations set for Tuesday.  PRO has filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board that the PRSA threatened replacements that they wouldn't be able to work the MLS games when the lockout ends.  PRSA has responded that it was one dude's email, and said dude was just pointing out that, when the lockout ends, all the union refs return to work, effectively re-replacing the replacements.

If not resolved by April, PRO referee lockout could also affect the NASL season | the11.ca:  PRO supplies the refs for NASL games in the US.  That season starts in April.  If the lockout isn't over by then, we can expect to see NASL players' moms and dads officiating.

Major League Soccer to Start Season With Scab Refs | The Nation:  David Zirin warns that replacement refs' inadequate experience may undermine the integrity of the game and heighten the risk of player injuries.

MLS replacement referees make mistakes but don't affect results … yet | Sport | theguardian.com:  The Guardian assesses how the replacement refs did in week one of the season.

SoccerAmerica - Ref lockout is a lose-lose situation for PRO and MLS 03/07/2014: Paul Gardiner finds irony in the lockout:  "PRO was formed to upgrade the standard of American refereeing that was supposedly poor ... We had last year a full season of PRO-trained referees, which provided no discernible evidence of any improvement. PRO now finds itself, far from upgrading referees, in a situation where it is using 'replacements' -- which must mean a lowering of standards. This is a lose-lose situation for PRO. Because if things go well this weekend, if PRO then hails the replacements ... then one might well ask why we need PRO when referees ... can do the job as last-minute replacements."

Serious foul play by MLS | Balloon Juice:  World Cup-eligible assistant referees make $15,000 during an MLS regular season.  But can they afford to park at RFK?

MLS can rival European leagues, says PRO's Alan Kelly | PRO Referee:  The PRO website features an interview with Irishman Alan Kelly, who is a replacement ref.  Kelly says of PRO:  "We have a talented group of individuals and hopefully with even more training and development we can go from strength-to-strength in coming seasons."  Meanwhile, the PRSA published a report earlier this week highlighting the resumes of replacement refs.  According to the report, Kelly "did not complete the fitness test" at a preseason referees camp.

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