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Freedom Kicks: DC United, MLS, and Soccer Links for 26 September 2014 - Brutality and the Beautiful Game

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Nuclear war, broken noses, "boys being boys," brain damage, sucker punches, ritual sacrifices - today's Friday Freedom Kicks explores the rougher side of soccer.

Paolo Bruno

On this day, 31 years ago, thanks to a glitch in a computer, the world almost had a full-scale accidental nuclear war. Our entire planet was saved by an officer in the Soviet Air Defense Forces named Stanislav Petrov. He's the guy who correctly realized it was a false alarm and stopped the apocalypse.

So...thank you, Comrade Petrov.

And now: FRIDAY FREEDOM KICKS!

D.C. United attack gets timely boost from promising returns by veterans Chris Pontius, Eddie Johnson | MLSsoccer.com: During the Tauro match, Chris Pontius knew that he only had 10 minutes to play in the second half. So he played like he only had 10 minutes. And he scored.

Is the CONCACAF Champions League changing? | US Soccer Players: MLS teams could fill half of the slots in the knockout phase of the CONCACAF. But does it mean anything when pretty much all of the teams are only half showing up, playing reserves? This means we never really know who the best CONCACAF team is. And that results in a poor showing for CONCACAF at the Club World Cup relative to, say, UEFA's entrants. Not that I blame Olsen. Our reserves did just fine. The MLS Cup is decidedly more important.

VIDEO: Philadelphia Union's Maurice Edu "mic'd up" in recent game vs. New York Red Bulls | SIDELINE | MLSsoccer.com: Awesome. They strapped a microphone to Maurice Edu during the Union's match with NYRB, and here are the results!

Heir to the throne: the king of American soccer and the man in line to succeed him - SBNation.com: Is Clint Dempsey the new king of American soccer, displacing Landon Donovan? Is Julian Green the heir apparent right behind Clint? (Answers:  Yes; No.)

No Criminal Charges in Summit Soccer Scandal - Cincinnati.com: Another alleged hazing incident in soccer. This one purportedly involves a Youtube video, a Gatorade bottle, and "a backside." The prosecutor has declined to prosecute, explaining: "My brothers and I did worse than that to each other...and still do to this day."

Rod Stewart sued for breaking fan's nose with soccer ball during concert - NY Daily News: Did you know Rod Stewart once tried out for a third tier English football club? Or that he signs soccer balls and kicks them out at his audience during concerts? And maybe breaks fans noses in the process?

Hope Solo Posts about Hacked Photos, Domestic Violence Charges - Facebook: Solo is confident she will be fully exonerated of assaulting her nephew and sister.

Soccer star: I did not kill rapper in ritual sacrifice | New York Post: This is not a headline you see everyday.

Deceased Brazilian star Bellini found to have had CTE - Planet Futbol - SI.com: I was glad that Eddie Johnson wore the protective headgear in the Tauro match after his concussion. It's unclear whether that sort of headgear will protect you 100% of the time. But it's something. And I would favor everyone wearing it, concussion or no. Because stories like this one leave me with a gnawing feeling about the long-term costs that the beautiful game has for the players whom we cheer and adore.

Report: Dad Punched Coach at Youth Soccer Game - Burlington Free Press: He allegedly sucker-punched the coach because the coach said something about his son's rough play.

After all of that, how about two heartwarming and adorable videos for your Friday FK non-soccer treat?

These preschoolers argue over whether it is raining or sprinkling outside, each citing their own mom as an authority. It is a heated debate that ends with "you poked my heart."

And the Bengals' Devon Still gives his daughter a pre-surgery pep talk.

Enjoy your Friday! And, on Saturday, raise your cup to Stanislav Petrov, the unlikely and unsung hero of civilization.