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Freedom Kicks: D.C. United and MLS Links for 7 March 2014

The Black-and-Red's defense is looking good for the season opener, but can they withstand a newly aggressive Crew midfield? That, plus Ghana's 15-second foul, MLS-hater-be-hating, the dismal science's take on the beautiful game, and more in today's Freedom Kicks.

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We are on the very cusp of the new season. You really can't get any more cuspier than this. After tomorrow, we'll be looking at a conference table. Can you even stand it? Of course, you can't. Put down your DC Brau, and take your freedom kicks like a grownup.

With many new faces, United hoping for better results of 2014 season gets started | Washington Times: Here's one final preview of the season for DC United, with Olsen confirming that there's something clicking in our defensive line.

Columbus Crew Preview: Midfielders | Massive Report: Our sister site in Columbus warns us that the Crew's midfield will be more attack-oriented this year.

Edu the biggest of Union's improvements for 2014: Former Terrapin Maurice Edu gets a nice welcome in the Philly Inquirer.

Major League Soccer's New Ad Theme: 'For Club and Country' | Advertising Age: MLS aims to catch the World Cup wave with a patriotic new tagline.

A glimpse of what one day might be should MLS come to Atlanta | The other night, 68,000 fans rocked the Georgia Dome for the Mexico-Nigeria friendly, giving Atlanta's bid for an MLS expansion team a nice boost.

Getting Ready For MLS? Allow Us To Convince You Otherwise | Deadspin: Woo, boy. Some serious MLS-hatin' in this diatribe against the league, the players, and the fans. A shorter version would have been: Although you didn't ask, I'd be marginally less annoyed by professional American soccer if there was more Europe on the field and less Europe in the stands.

Spirit acquire Mexican WNT midfielder Veronica Perez in trade with WNY | Washington Spirit: Veronica Perez is from San Mateo, California, but plays on the Mexican national team. An attacking midfielder, she scored a whopping 12 goals in 14 appearances during her 2012 season with the Seattle Sounders Women. A lack of minutes in last year's stint with the Western New York Flash rendered her the goal stats department. Here's hoping she gets to turn her attack mode on for the Spirit.

International Friendly: Montenegro 1 Ghana 0 | FourFourTwo: While that USMNT-Ukraine friendly was painful to watch, at least the Black Stars showed they've got some nervous energy issues. In the first 15 seconds of their friendly, a penalty gave Montenegro the margin of victory over Ghana. (In other proto-Group-G action, both Portugal and Germany won their friendlies against Cameroon and Chile, respectively.)

U.S. Soccer confirms three-game send-off series ahead of 2014 World Cup | ProSoccerTalk: The Super Eagles will be our last friendly opponent before the World Cup. To the extent there's such a thing as African-style play (which is, I believe, less defensive, faster-attacking play, very un-catenaccio), we'll get to use Nigeria to warm up for the real deal against Ghana in Natal.

On the Ball | Finance & Development: The IMF has published a University of Michigan professor's economic analysis of the labor market for European soccer.

And I'll leave you with this unbelievable aww moment and this funny uhh moment.

Use this thread for all things randomly soccer-related, since I know you're not going to sleep tonight. VAMOS!