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Monday Freedom Kicks: Countdown to the Cup

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We see who's left to battle for the MLS Cup, wonder if Roberto Mancini will turn around Inter, and pull a ship over a hill from one river to another.

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Tryptophan wearing off, all of the gluten from stuffing is loaded and we are ready to go for the last MLS matchday of the 2014 season to come, along with some more awards. But first, your savory sausage links:

MLS to expand playoff spots in 2015? - Black And Red United: ICYMI, Brian Straus delivered another gem over the weekend that has ramifications on and off the field.

New England Revolution vs. New York Red Bulls, 2014 MLS Playoffs: Revs are heading to the final - SBNation.com: We all could use a laugh I suppose, so this is the post-holiday one. But Thierry Henry's post-game press conference was also nice. The Revs go out West where they will face the Los Angeles Galaxy.

TFC in talks with Lagerwey about president's job - Sportsnet.ca: GUH, NOOOOO!!!!! Lagerwey's response to those rumors are here by the way.

Has Miami Blown Its Shot at Major League Soccer? | Miami New Times: Whenever I get down or depressed about D.C. United's stadium situation, I look at whatever it is that Miami's doing and feel a tiny bit better.

World Cup bids corruption: 'Picasso painting offered' - CNN.com: Really shocked that FIFA and Michel Platini would do something untoward, but here's a juicy tidbit nonetheless.

A Rebuilt Southampton Excels With a ‘10th-Place Budget’ - NYTimes.com: Sure, their performance yesterday against Manchester City left a little to be desired (though the record masks the teams played to be honest), but a nice look at how the Saints have coped.

Sunderland 0-0 Chelsea: Draw Specialists Are At It Again - Roker Report: Partner club Sunderland draws with Chelsea to move to 13th in the Premier League, though four goals in their last six matches if I have the math right could use some addressing.

In more partner club news, Inter Milan hung with AS Roma for the first hour, but Miralem Pjanic scored the last two en route to a 4-2 Roma win, bumping Inter down to 11th in Serie A. But perhaps Roberto Mancini has planted some good seeds?

Massive Soccer Hooligan Brawl Leaves One Man Beaten, Thrown Into River: Ahead of Atletico Madrid's game with Deportivo La Coruna yesterday, our first instance of La Liga fans going nuts, which leads me to the second...

Valencia Fans Drill Messi In Head After Barça Score Last-Second Winner: I mean, come on guys.

Violence Erupts At Jalisco Stadium After Monterrey Knocks Off Atlas: Seriously guys, stop.

Hoyas corner Orange, advance to NCAA soccer quarterfinals - The Washington Post: Steve Goff keeping an eye on the college tournament for those keeping an eye on the future.

DT LIVES! | Dirty Tackle: Brooks Peck runs Dirty Tackle and generally does solid work, and having him back on the grid is encouraging.

Broke and broken - City & Region - The Buffalo News: I realize that destitute and or former football players in their 40s and 50s with failing health is a disturbing trend (all the more tragic considering the Kosta Karageorge news), but as someone who used to watch football and remembers Darryl Talley getting interviewed by Bob Hope(!) during the annual introduction of the College All-American squad, this read was particularly engrossing. At least there is a moderately encouraging coda to report.

Fitzcarraldo Movie Review & Film Summary (1982) | Roger Ebert: I dove into Fitzcarraldo again for the first time in years because I'm finally getting around to reading Werner Herzog's "Conquest of the Useless," about his time making the film, and did a double feature of the movie and its companion production piece "Burden of Dreams" over the weekend. Fitzcarraldo is about Brian Sweeney Fitzgerald, an Irishman in Peru who wants to build an opera house, but to do so requires capital, part of this includes hauling a huge boat from one river, up a hill and to another, to get money for a rubber sale which would raise the cash. It is less about the plot and more about the effort into the task, featuring a searing performance by the late Klaus Kinski, a former frequent Herzog collaborator. If you have ever seen "Hearts of Darkness," a similar film which covered the making of Coppola's "Apocalypse Now," this one draws you more into the production and environment and is well worth the time to explore.

Finally, a note of congratulations to former D.C. Coach Thomas Rongen, who is taking over the Head Coach role for the Tampa Bay Rowdies according to Brian Sciaretta. And remember, whatever you do today, hope the leftovers from last week are minimal.