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Freedom Kicks: D.C. United, USMNT, and MLS links for Wednesday, February 11th, 2015

Plenty of MLS news from yesterday, plus United, a CCL video, and another NYCFC snafu.

Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Per The Weather Channel, in the next five days we'll see a 19 degree dropoff followed immediately by a 21 degree jump followed by a potential 34 degree plunge. Lousy Smarch weather.

Versatile new signing Markus Halsti fitting right in with DC United: "He's been exactly what we wanted" |
Pablo Maurer talked to Markus Halsti as well as Ben Olsen on how things are going with United's most prominent offseason signing. Sounds like things are going well, and Halsti can apparently be found wandering the District's sightseeing spots.

D.C. United signs Michael Farfan | Washington Post
We talked about the Michael Farfan signing yesterday, but Steve Goff's piece explains a little more about why he came through the allocation process in the first place.

On Frame with Conor Doyle: King of Catan |
Molly Bruh's been interviewing every player on the team, and yesterday she talked to Conor Doyle, who is a big Taylor Swift fan. What is it with this offseason, United, and Taylor Swift? Am I going to have to hear "Shake It Off" at halftime every week at a stadium that is the Platonic ideal of a place she would never go? Probably, yes.

As MLS labor talks continue, D.C. United tries keeping focus on field | Washington Post
Back to Goff, who has some insight here into the mindset of the players as CBA talks continue without any sign of progress. He also gets an interesting quote from Olsen, who would also be left in the lurch if an agreement can't be hashed out.

CONCACAF Champions League Explained
Lindsay Simpson from Monumental FC narrates this video that anyone who doesn't know exactly how the CONCACAF Champions League works should watch.

For Klinsmann's USMNT, balancing Mia San Mia, ambition no simple task | Sports Illustrated
It's a Brian Straus opinion piece, so you know it's going to be good. Here's hoping Klinsmann settles into a regular playing concept that isn't just a buzzword, and here's hoping us fans don't let a 2-0 victory over a hapless Panama side make us forget that the USMNT has not been good in a while.

NYCFC beats St Mirren 2-0 in a preseason friendly |
New York City FC's first friendly was a win over a Scottish Premier League team. Oh, and they've also declared David Villa a club talisman. That word was pretty much run into the ground around the turn of the last decade, where any player who was playing well in a given season was considered a talisman by any English-speaking announcer. Even with that in mind, this is officially the worst usage I've encountered. NYCFC have played zero games. Villa would need to still be an effective starter for NYCFC in the 2020 season, at age 38, before we can start pretending he's some sort of longtime club legend who always comes up with a big play when his team needs it.

I'm getting the feeling this is how NYCFC is going to act all the time. It's things like this:

Can we leave the tifo to the fans, please? Hudson River Blue
I'm sure some Third Rail members would have been glad to lend their banners to the club. Instead, they made up their own because...? If their PR ability is any indicator, expect NYCFC's defenders to join opposing teams in taking shots on Josh Saunders.

On the other hand, I bet that NJ one was upsetting for Red Bulls fans, so I guess it's not all bad.

Orlando City set to sign Sean St Ledger |
Goal is on my list of sites to not post if possible - it's the auto-start videos they always post - but they've got this report indicating that former United trialist Sean St. Ledger is looking a lot like he'll be signed by Orlando City. Throw in that OCSC just lost out on a center back that instead signed with elite Brazilian club Cruzeiro, and the story has legs.

Brad Evans getting positive early reviews as he deputizes at center back for the Seattle Sounders |
If Brad Evans can get the decision-making and spatial awareness a center back needs down, Seattle may have figured out how to upgrade their defense without actually signing anyone. He has all the tools to succeed, even if it's an unorthodox move.

Ryo Fujii signs with Galaxy II on a game-changing contract | LAG Confidential
Interesting stuff here: The LA Galaxy will foot the bill so Fujii - an academy product - can attend Cal St. Dominguez Hills (the university where the StubHub Center is located). Fujii had been at UC Santa Barbara previously. Basically, LA may be circumventing the issues the NCAA would have by signing players to Galaxy II contracts that guarantee college tuition. Their players get to play at a higher, more professional level but they're still getting their education. Say what you will about LA, but you can't call them dumb.