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Freedom Kicks: D.C. United, MLS, and UEFA Champions League links for Wednesday February 18, 2015

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United and Alajuelense updates ahead of the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals, Copa Libertadores going nuts, and plenty of other important Kurt Russell news.

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Hope everyone got shoveled out without injury. I had no problems until, hours after the job was done, a plow came through my neighborhood and tried to "help" by plowing areas around turns or at forks that were missed in the initial pass (which, like all plowing, focused on straight lines). Second Plow came through and made sure to plow a bunch of icy snow chunks in a line about 7 inches high a yard from my driveway. Honestly, if these guys were actual petty enemies of mine, they wouldn't have done as good a job of screwing me over in this minor and very much avoidable fashion.

On the other hand, not all plow operators are bad.

A Day with D.C. United | MLS Preseason 2015 | MLSsoccer.com
If you want to see what life is like during preseason, here's a glimpse. Bobby Boswell leads a tour of Austin and orders a huge amount of food, Chris Pontius makes fun of Davy Arnaud, everyone else makes fun of Pontius, and Bill Hamid plays 5v2 with a camera strapped to his chest. Life as a pro soccer player looks very fun, but is also very weird.

D.C. United welcome Markus Halsti’s leadership, experience for 2015 trophy chase | Soccerwire.com
Chris Teale has a chat with Markus Halsti, who seems more aware than most European imports about what makes MLS a different sort of challenge than what he's seen in the past. It's also really nice to have enough depth that if Halsti goes to play for Finland mid-week, he can be rested on the weekend without there being much of a problem. United can mitigate all the travel with a smart rotation because there's real depth in place.

D.C. United news and notes | Soccer Insider
Steve Goff kinda-sorta sums up the preseason thus far. Maybe the biggest news is that United's CONCACAF Champions League visit to Costa Rica is likely going to be on Fox Sports 2, which for most of us means not in HD. Here's hoping the Spanish coverage is a more easily located channel that doesn't broadcast in "our camera was smeared with vaseline" def.

Jairo Arrieta: "Qué más le puedo pedir a la vida que mi primer partido del año vaya a ser en Costa Rica" | FutbolMLS.com
Here's a Spanish-language interview with Jairo Arrieta, who seems glad that the first game his new team has is in his native country. Here's the translation.

Alajuelense rotará, pero esta noche ante Limón | Nacion.com
As has been the case on Wednesdays, it's time for more coverage from Costa Rica. Alajuelense plays Limón tonight, and it might indicate some things as far as United is concerned. Three regulars (Ariel Rodriguez, Pablo Gabas, and Johan Venegas) will be rested, while Osvaldo Rodriguez will be tried at right back to see if he's a reasonable alternative to Kenner Gutierrez, who is himself an alternative to the suspended Kevin Sancho. Speaking of suspensions, Ramirez says that the goalkeeper he uses in tonight's game will be the one he starts against United. Finally, it looks like Ramirez plans to rest big names tonight and play his best team against both Saprissa - which is Costa Rica's biggest rivalry - and United.

This piece also notes that LDA boss Oscar Ramirez is nicknamed "El Macho," which when paired with his other nickname - El Erizo, which means the hedgehog - is pretty spectacular. Google Translate makes an attempt at sorting this into English.

Could Lewis Neal play his way into Orlando City's starting lineup on March 8? | O-Town's 11
Some confusion and an injury could open a window for Lewis Neal to start for Orlando in their first-ever MLS match. Given that said game is against the RSL B-team that is NYCFC, the Lions might be on to something here.

PRO announces the 2015 roster | Professional Referee Organization
Here's a long list of people that I guarantee you will yell at in 2015.

Lilly, McBride, Bradley Inducted into National Soccer Hall of Fame | USSoccer.com
Nike would see those red HoF jackets and think "Man, these would be so much better if they were not red because we don't make red things for US Soccer."

Anyway, former Washington Warthogs - that's early 90s men's pro indoor soccer - playe Kristine Lilly, former United killer Brian McBride, and former United assistant coach Bradley are all in the Hall of Fame for their great careers (Lilly did rather more with the USWNT than as a Warthog, it must be said).

Copa Libertadores scores: Red cards, thin air and more from from Tuesday's 5 games | SB Nation
Kevin McCauley sums up last night's Copa Libertadores matches, one of which involved five red cards. It was a crazy night for other tournaments, but for a Libertadores matchday it was pretty normal.

3 things you could've done rather than watching Shakhtar Donestk and Bayern Munich's scoreless draw | SB Nation
3 things we learned from Paris Saint-Germain's 1-1 draw with Chelsea | SB Nation
In the other big-time continental competition - you know, the one that's more refined, features more skillful players, and is more prone to cagey play - there was less drama and more tension. If out-of-season-for-months Shakhtar can hold mighty Bayern to a first-leg draw, then maybe out-of-season-for-months United can hold the decidedly less mighty LDA in a similar manner?

Forum: Escape From New York | The Dissolve
It's been a long time since I added a Kurt Russell-based link, so here is one that is very much about Kurt Russell, American Hero. The Dissolve is doing several stories on "Escape From New York," which is a hugely influential film that will soon be remade into a garbage movie by the jerks at Fox that will make many millions of dollars and also make every fiber of my being unhappy. Please do not go see the remake unless it features Kurt Russell as Snake Plissken. Instead, watch the original. It has Lee van Cleef, Isaac Hayes, and Adrienne Barbeau. Go watch it. Go. Vote with your dollar. Vote Plissken 2015. Vote Plissken forever.