Today's round of Freedom Kicks is full of good news and bad news. It hits home for me, because if you're seeing this early, you'll probably see it while I drink some quality coffee (good news) and face up to the fact that I have no appropriate breakfast food because I skipped grocery shopping for beer shopping and may be starting my day with cookies (I'm an adult, so this is bad news).
Training Notes: August 5, 2014 | DCUnited.com
D.C. United focused on possession, quickly transitioning to defense, and shooting yesterday as they prep for this weekend's road trip to face Real Salt Lake.
D.C. United defense well-represented in MLS All-Star game | Washington Times
Bobby Boswell wishes all his teammates were going to the All-Star Game, but maybe it's better that most of the guys are sleeping in their own beds. It's the thought that counts I guess.
D.C. United goalkeeper Bill Hamid sees Real Salt Lake keeper Nick Rimando as a mentor | The Oregonian
Good news: Bill Hamid is being mentored by Nick Rimando. Also worth noting: In the attached video interview with both players, which mercifully does not start automatically, there is apparently a giant MLS ball on the roof at Providence Park.
Castrol Index Weekly Top 20: D.C. United's Bill Hamid shines brightest in Week 21 | MLSsoccer.com
More good news. I mean, I don't think the Castrol Index has much merit - Hamid's getting a lot of credit for making some very straightforward saves against TFC - but praise for Hamid is a positive in my book.
Real Salt Lake: Yellow cards leave RSL short on fullbacks | The Salt Lake Tribune
RSL will be without Tony Beltran and Chris Wingert this weekend due to yellow card accumulation, as well as their third-choice center back Aaron Maund (who was sent off). United will be without Perry Kitchen. While United can replace Kitchen with Jared Jeffrey, RSL is potentially facing a situation in which they start converted forward Abdoulie Mansally and 17 year old Justen Glad on the flanks. Javier Morales vs. Jeffrey? Chris Rolfe vs. Glad? Could be a lot of goals at the RioT.
State of the MLS Run In: Lots of Weeks to Go | Sounder At Heart
This piece is about the Supporters Shield and the Sounders, but there's a very important table halfway down under "Remaining Strength of Schedule." It's not good news for United, who are facing the second most difficult schedule in MLS behind Colorado. This does not include extra games and travel for CCL play, either. If we're going to do something good this year, we're going to do it the hard way.
Waterhouse depart for Panamanian challenge | Jamaica Gleaner
If you're curious about United's upcoming CCL opponent Waterhouse FC, this piece lists literally everyone they took with them to Panama to face Tauro FC. I mean everyone: The players, the coaching staff, the team president, and two people whose positions on the staff were not listed. Also, they have a player nicknamed "Tuffy," which is pretty awesome.
CCL Champions Cruz Azul open title defense with draw against Alajuelense | Soccerly
Speaking of the CCL, this is a huge result in Group 6. Cruz Azul, the defending champions and playing a very strong team, were held to a 1-1 draw against LD Alajuelense, themselves a CCL semifinalist this past spring. This is the consequence of teams like United and Portland getting such friendly draws. It also means Cruz Azul is already in "must" territory, as LDA is unlikely to drop any points to the third team in the group (Panama's Chorrillo FC). If La Maquina can't go to Costa Rica and avoid defeat, they're going out. That's the new CCL for you.
Related: Ben Olsen, please no full reserve teams in CCL play. We need this. OK, maybe not every United fan needs us to get through this group, but I personally need this.
MLS Deputy Commissioner Mark Abbott on expansion, international calendar & pro/rel | MLSsoccer.com
I shouldn't link this, but here we are. On the subjects that won't turn comments here into an unbearable morass, Abbott mentions Sacremento, Las Vegas, San Antonio, and Austin as expansion candidates. I've never been to any of those places, but I feel like Austin would be a pretty good road trip. And Vegas, obviously, but soccer in the desert seems like something we've complained about before.
Overall, this is a pretty informative piece if you want to know where MLS is potentially heading.
Players threaten lawsuit over artificial fields at 2015 Women's World Cup | Fox Sports
Abby Wambach, Alex Morgan, Heather O'Reilly, reigning World Player of the Year Nadine Angerer, and about 40 other players are trying to make sure the Women's World Cup is played on surfaces up to the standard of the men's World Cup. As things stand now, all six venues will have artificial turf.