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Freedom Kicks: D.C. United, MLS CBA talks, and CONCACAF Champions League links for Wednesday March 4, 2015

I counted and there are about 600,427 links in today's round of Freedom Kicks.

Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

We need some hope tonight. D.C. United is in trouble, but it's not over till it's over and all that right? Well, if you want CCL hope, it's out there:

94th minute goal sends Montreal Impact into CCL semifinals |
So United is down 3 goals. So what? Here's the Impact - who were awful last year - knocking out a perennial CCL contender in Liga MX's Pachuca. They survived three sitters for Los Tuzos. They survived going behind after their prized offseason acquisition gave up a naive foul to concede what looked like a killer penalty kick in the 80th minute. They went through because a pedestrian MLS reserve turned into Marco Etcheverry four minutes into stoppage time, putting a 60 yard pass exactly where it needed to go. They went through because a third round draft pick who didn't even play in a big conference brought that glorious pass down perfectly, held off a challenge, stayed on his feet, and nutmegged a goalkeeper with 56 caps for Mexico.

Or maybe this gif says it all:

So basically, can all that loser talk about how we're dead. As my JV coach loved to say, "soccer is a crazy game."

Still no deal as third straight day of MLS labor talks comes up empty |
We'll get to the CBA stuff later, but this came out very late last night and it has crucial United information. Ives Galarcep's sources are saying that United will play tonight. He also says that the players had agreed to hold a strike vote, but that there was no word as of the report as to whether that vote had happened.

Also, I apologize in advance for Goal's autoplay video. It is a transgression that I would normally not forgive, but this is the first report with any sort of confirmation about tonight's game so it's kind of important.

Armchair Analyst: Next step to success comes in transition for D.C. United |
Matt Doyle with a good piece on Taylor Kemp and something United is going to have to figure out in 2015: How to defend down the wings after turnovers. They'd do well to start that tonight, what with Alajuelense's speed down the flanks.

Fabian Espindola’s looming six-game ban could significantly affect D.C. United | Washington Times
Thomas Floyd talked to Espindola, who said something I agree with strongly (on Alajuelense as an opponent) and something I disagree with strongly (he thinks his suspension was excessive). Worth a read, even if the Times has a website design that makes me wish I had never used the internet.

Óscar Ramírez sobre ventaja ante el DC United: 'Yo en esto siempre soy desconfiado' |
Alajuelense's coach is still preaching caution despite a three-goal advantage...but then also says he plans to try to kill things off early by attacking. I guess I can't blame him for telling his players to do the thing they're good at. This isn't a team that is capable of defending for 90 minutes, and obviously taking away United's road goals advantage would make things that much more difficult. Here's the translation.

Cold, snow don’t stop D.C. United from gearing up for season opener |
A short piece and video from training yesterday from ABC 7.

D.C. United is home, and ready to fight back |
Brief update on how things are going inside the locker room, with Ben Olsen acknowledging that it's going to take a good performance and also a healthy dose of luck to come back from three goals behind tonight. Also, apparently Steve Birnbaum's battery died while his car sat unused for so long.

MLS performance trend in CONCACAF Champions League | Sounder at Heart
Barring a win or low-scoring draw for Montreal - I'm writing this as the game is being played - and/or a miracle win for United, the Costa Rican league can make an argument that they deserve one of the US's four CCL spots. CONCACAF probably won't listen, but still.

And yes, there's a dig at United's attendance. Be civil if it really bugs you, but also remember that both CCL games at RFK drew crowds that could have easily fit at the Maryland Soccerplex.

MLS, players' union move closer to free agency as talks progress, source says
Jeff Carlisle's report was the last one yesterday as far as CBA talks went, and it contained the most positive news: A limited free agency format that would actually apply to more than one player ain't much, but it's something.

Is MLS on the verge of a work stoppage? | The Washington Post
Yesterday's battle of the sources seemed to indicate that the players believe they've been more than reasonable but that the owners reacted with disdain. My personal guess is that we'll see more rhetoric today as United's game against Alajuelense approaches.

MLS labor impasse beginning to look more like a real crisis | WorldSoccerTalk
Steve Davis takes stock of the current situation and notes that the 2010 CBA saw more heated rhetoric for longer, yet ended with a deal six days before the season opener.

'It is simply a cartel': The story behind MLS winning the labor wars against players | Vice Sports
Jorge Arangure looks back on the last truly big moment in MLS labor relation: The Fraser vs. MLS case from way back in MLS's early days.

Pain, Progress and Passion: The history and growth of supporters' culture in MLS |
Jeff Crandall talks to several SG leaders, including B&RU's own Donald Wine II, about where things in the stands were and where they're going. One thing I'm thankful for: RFK in the 90s was if anything more lawless than it is today, so the story about the Fire fan who wanted to get loud but almost got ejected was never that likely out here.

Spending millions on Rafael van der Vaart seems like a bad idea | Soccer Gods
This more and more strikes me as an even more extreme version of United's decision to sign Marcelo Gallardo. Oft-injured #10, an MLS team desperate to fit in with the big boys. I think the game KC likes to play is still too much about physicality and aggression to fit in a small, contact-averse playmaker. Oh, and they already have Graham Zusi and Benny Feilhaber, so it's not like creativity is the problem.

This is apparently the new Revs away jersey:

For me, these are pretty good. Yes, it's yet another red/white jersey in MLS, but a) the Revs have typically had MLS's most boring uniforms and b) it's inspired by the flag of New England. It's not just red because Adidas research shows that red sells. And you also have to think that Revs fans will call this "red" rather than embrace the corporate speak a la Seattle by calling it "Splendiferous Crimson" or whatever nonsense color name replaces existing names.

Revolution Secondary Jersey Revealed | The Bent Musket
Here's more on the new Revs uniform from the good folks at TBM. They're good despite the fact that they knowingly support a team coached by Jay Heaps. Everyone makes mistakes.

Orlando City Unveils Away Kits for 2015 Season | The Mane Land
If you want to accuse someone of going boring, save it for Orlando. I do think they deserve some credit for the bold choice of purple, but this is still about as plain a design as jerseys come in.