You'd be forgiven if you've forgotten for a moment, but there really is a D.C. United match tomorrow, as the Black-and-Red pick up their passports to visit Francophone North America and the Montreal Impact. That will be United's last league game before a two-week World Cup hiatus, but your favorite SB Nation DC soccer bloggers aren't going anywhere. We've got some fun things planned for the world's favoritest month-long single-sport event, so stay tuned. Now, onto this morning's links.
Q&A with D.C. United Academy Director Nolan Sheldon | D.C. United
Yesterday, the D.C. United Academy got itself a new director. Sonny Silooy, the Ajax product who has run the Academy for the past three years will step aside at the end of this youth season, making way for Nolan Sheldon, who has been managing the U-18 side, among other duties. Here's a good Q&A with the new man in charge.
In which math predicts the World Cup | FiveThirtyEight
Nate Silver is officially in on the madness, running his Soccer Power Index into a prediction algorithm to conclude that, yes, Brazil really are the overwhelming favorites to lift their sixth Rimet Trophy. Interestingly, in Group G, it's a toss-up for second place behind Germany, as none of the United States, Portugal and Ghana has even a 50% chance to advance.
Schrodinger's Neymar - ESPN FC
For a few minutes there yesterday afternoon, Brazil's chances looked diminished as Neymar lay on the ground with an apparent ankle injury. Until he stood up and rejoined training, he was both injured and ready to go for Brazil's World Cup opener Thursday against Croatia. It's moments like this that spawn universes almost identical to our own and that unexplainably popular sitcoms like to use to describe mundane everyday situations. Luckily for fans of samba, the Barcelona attacker in this version of reality resolved as "unhurt," just rolling his ankle a little bit.
Soccer Beagle is so ready for the World Cup - SBNation.com
She's a triple threat! She'll score, she'll stop penalties, and she'll popularize a new goal celebration! But will she overcome anti-puppy sentiment to get on the field at the World Cup?
World Cup broadcasters - SI.com
We all know it's not just the players and managers that are up for judgment during major events like the World Cup (or minor events like a random league game); the broadcast teams are under their share of scrutiny, too. Luckily, ESPN has typically done very will with major soccer events over the last couple cycles. Here's all the commentary pairings for the first week of games down in Brazil - anybody catch your eye?
That's it for today's abbreviated Freedom Kicks. Share your thoughts and any stories that catch your eye - this is your open thread, after all.