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Wednesday Freedom Kicks: Moving on up!

Tampa Bay and Ottawa leave NASL for the USL, the MLS playoffs begin tonight, a Brazilian legend passes, Wood strikes twice, and we can’t wait for DCU tomorrow night. Despié’s the Freedom Kicks.

Soccer: Tampa Bay Rowdies at New York Cosmos
The Rowdies are ecstatic to be moving to USL.
Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Wednesday folks! Tonight sees the start of the knockout round of the 2016 MLS Playoffs, with Toronto FC hosting the Philadelphia Union (7:30pm, ESPN2) and the LA Galaxy at home against Real Salt Lake (10:30pm, UniMás). If you want to get in on the MLS Bracket Challenge, get on it! There is a Black and Red United league, so join before kickoff tonight. Alright, get your wake up on, here comes the news:

USL Expands with Addition of Tampa Bay Rowdies, Ottawa Fury FC | United Soccer League

Two NASL teams jumped ship to the USL today as the Tampa Bay Rowdies and Ottawa Fury FC will begin play with Reno 1868 FC in 2017. Great pickups for USL, but does this start the final countdown for the NASL’s hopes for survival?

Portland Timbers’ Liam Ridgewell, Jake Gleeson charged with DUII in Oregon | ESPNFC

Not good news out of Portland, where two players—Liam Ridgewell and Jake Gleeson—were charged with DUII at the same time. This is definitely not something MLS brass wanted dominating the headlines yesterday.

Video: Bobby Wood strikes twice in Hamburg’s Cup win | Pro Soccer Talk

Bobby Wood is back in the scoring column for Hamburg, marking a brace in their German Cup victory.

Here’s every MLS team’s average attendance for the 2016 season | Fox Soccer

The list of average attendance among MLS teams is broken down. D.C. United, while having only the 17th best average attendance in the league (17,081), had a 5% average increase from 2015.

Carlos Alberto: Brazil legend dies aged 72 after heart attack | BBC

Sad news out of Rio de Janeiro as Carlos Alberto, the captain of the 1970 World Cup champion Brazil team and one of the greatest players of the 20th century, died yesterday. Among his many teams he featured as a player or manager included the old New York Cosmos.

Montreal mystery: Will Didier Drogba return to face D.C. United in MLS playoffs? | Soccer Insider

As the Black-and-Red prepare for Thursday’s big knockout round showdown with the Montreal Impact, the number one question everyone is asking is: will Didier Drogba play for L’Impact? My guess is nope, but the team is ready for either scenario.

Grateful and geared up: Nyarko, DC United take aim at MLS Cup | Pro Soccer Talk

While United have been to the playoffs the past 3 seasons, Thursday will be the 2nd career playoff match for Patrick Nyarko. And boy, is he excited. Don’t worry Patty, we’re hype too!

Homophobia in sport: Most fans ‘would welcome gay players’ | BBC

A recent BBC poll in England declared that over 80% of Premier League fans would have no issue with an openly gay player on their team. There were still some, sadly, who stated they would stop watching their team if they had a gay player. There is progress, but there’s still a lot more to do to educate fans on acceptance and tolerance.

Alright, there was plenty more to add, but I know you all will do that in the comments. Get a piece of the pie today, and make sure you get plenty of rest...the team needs us tomorrow night!