So yesterday there was some very big news about a very bad person getting punished for being a racist turd. In the interest of not having this tiny slice of the internet be like the rest of the internet, I'm going to artfully dodge all of that talk and focus on what we do around here.
That is to say: Here are your Wednesday Freedom Kicks, soccer soccer soccer beer soccer whiskey.
D.C. United news and notes: Johnson expected to return to practice soon | Soccer Insider
Steve Goff makes my job easy. This time, he's mostly focused on Eddie Johnson: EJ's injury, EJ's experiences with racism in Europe, and EJ talking to Clint Dempsey. Oh, and Will Chang will be portrayed in a movie about baseball pitchers from India, obviously.
Fabián Espíndola earns MLS Team of the Week honor | DCUnited.com
Damn right he did.
Vote now for Etihad Airways MLS Player of the Month for April | MLSsoccer.com
Espindola and Bobby Boswell are both nominated for April's POTM. Putting aside uneasy feelings about the award's sponsor, it's kind of mind-blowing to see United end up with two nominees for an award that was basically off-limits for everyone associated with the club just 6-7 months ago. Neither player is going to win - Dempsey just had one of the best months for any player in recent MLS history - but as I type this Espindola is in 2nd, so there's that. Hooray, combination of resilient players, actually being good sometimes, and fortune paying us back a bit for 2013!
Unmarked Ep. 2: D.C. United's Andrew Dykstra tours DC Brau | DCUnited.com
DC United Unmarked was a great idea, and the execution so far has been really good. This week, Andrew Dykstra went to DC Brau to help him up his homebrewing game. In fact, at one point Dykstra adds some hops to a vat, so one day soon you may be drinking what he helped make.
Also: If you see me in person and there's time, ask me about the tour I took at the Lucayan Brewery in the Bahamas. It is a bold tale of heavy lifting, leaving the tourist zone, false promises, and the dangers of mixing Gatorade with rum.
Scratching the Chalkboard: Zach Loyd's Not to Blame | Big D Soccer
Approaching last Saturday's triumph from the other side of the fence, Jason Poon takes a look at Oscar Pareja's tactical adjustments and is - for very good reasons - a bit confused.
Play and compete against other MLSsoccer.com readers in 2048: MLS Edition puzzle | MLSsoccer.com/Sideline
Honestly I didn't expect this to be very interesting, but I'll be damned if I didn't immediately get hooked. Get used to the sight of happy Graham Zusi and happy Federico Higuain.
Bayern Munich vs. Real Madrid, 2014 UEFA Champions League: Bavarians beat down | SBNation.com/soccer
Last year, Bayern's 7-0 win over Barcelona was viewed as the end of one era and the beginning of another. The latter part of that narrative is pretty much over now after Real Madrid showed what perfect execution on set pieces and counterattacks can do. Lesson learned: There's no best way to win soccer games.
Chelsea vs. Atlético Madrid preview: When will the deadlock be broken? | SBNation.com/soccer
Jack Sargeant previews the second leg of the other Champions League semifinal. Personally, I'd rather see Atletico Madrid go through and get the chance to truly avenge a truly decade-plus run of sadness at the hands of their more famous neighbors. Also, I would be far happier playing for Diego Simeone, who is incredibly demanding but also honest, than I would be enduring the endless mind games from Jose Mourinho.
Life after pro football is difficult for many Brazilians | ESPNFC
Sad but true piece on how many Brazilian soccer players find themselves struggling with addiction, poverty, and mental illness after they hang up their boots. By the time you read this, ESPN's 30 for 30 on Garrincha will have aired, further hammering the point home. Excellent work from Fernando Duarte.
Give Us a Straight Answer, America: How Do You Really Feel About Soccer? | FiveThirtyEight
Once again, no one actually has a real answer for this question, but FiveThirtyEight is the kind of place that can tell us why soccer's popularity has been so hard to put into anything remotely concrete. You know, just like actual data on soccer is inconclusive. Maybe soccer and numbers need to see a couples therapist.
Wizards vs. Bulls, NBA Playoffs 2014 Game 5: Washington moves to second round | Bullets Forever
I'm not jumping on the bandwagon or anything, but I am pleased for all the longtime Wizards fans I know who, just this once, got to be happy about their team. After all, the only local sports team that hasn't been either awful or choked in the playoffs over the last few years has been the Kastles.
Angela Merkel | Time
Juergen Klinsmann: Legendary striker, head coach for two national teams, helicopter pilot, and now published in Time while writing in what is either his second, third, or fourth language. Not bad Jay Goppingen, not bad.
OK, I'm done. You comment! Do it now!