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Freedom Kicks: D.C. United, CONCACAF Champions League, and MLS links for Wednesday February 24, 2016

Stupid crossbars.

So close. Steve Birnbaum was robbed 3 times by Volpi, and Taylor Kemp put a dent in the crossbar with that right (!!!) footed shot. Luciano Acosta has the tools to really change some things about the attack. Marcelo Sarvas looked like the 2014 version of himself (albeit a more defensive version) than the player who was nothing special for Colorado last year. I will be writing something at length before the week is out, but for now I'll just settle for two points:

1. So damn close
2. I am concerned about defending with Bill Hamid out and if Sarvas is our most defensive midfielder, but you've got to admit that United already looks like a more interesting team to watch on the road just thanks to the new faces involved. Hopefully "interesting" drifts into "truly threatening" in the coming weeks.

D.C. United squander chances, fall 2-0 to Queretaro in Champions League | Black and Red United
Steven Streff wrote this from Estadio Corregidora, before heading out with Ryan Keefer to get tacos, chicken, and steak at a place called the Oak Restaurant. Needless to say they handled the loss better than most of us. Steven also wrote a piece with quotes from the team that will go up later this morning.

D.C. United falls to Queretaro in first leg of CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals | Washington Post
Here's Steve Goff's recap. Apparently he got Periscope to work so he could hear Ben Olsen's postgame quotes. On my phone, Periscope froze, then later just stayed on a loading screen until the press conference was over. Hooray technology! Or maybe it's "Hooray lazy man not going in and trading in his 3 year old phone!"

Seattle Sounders, D.C. United squander opportunities in CCL | Sports Illustrated
Brian Straus nailed it as far as United's performance is concerned. The Black-and-Red put in a very savvy road performance for 70 minutes, slowing the pace down and keeping their shape, but Queretaro capitalized on two letdowns and rode their luck defensively to get a 2-0 win they didn't really deserve. This one felt a lot different than the chaotic 5-2 loss to Alajuelense last year at this time.

Armchair Analyst: DC United, Seattle Sounders show well, but CCL results are not kind
Matt Doyle breaks down both goals United let up, including a gif of the 2nd goal that is pretty instructive. Here again, we have someone praising much of what United put together on the night. It really wasn't a bad performance, and with just a little luck United gets at least one goal or even ends up with a draw.

Queretaro's Tiago Volpi saves his team in hard-fought win vs. D.C. United | ESPNFC
Nayib Moran, who covers Liga MX, has some thoughts on the game as well, including some praise for goalkeeper Tiago Volpi.

Sounders head to Mexico City with CCL quarterfinal at 2-2 | Sounder at Heart
Over in Seattle, the Sounders also came away dissatisfied with their result despite two good goals from Clint Dempsey. It might sound crazy, but needing a 2-0 or some kind of 3-goal win at RFK over Queretaro is no worse than the situation Seattle is in, needing to either win or get a high-scoring draw at Estadio Azteca. If Seattle doesn't keep a tight grip on proceedings in their second leg, this could easily turn into yet another rout suffered by an MLS team in Mexico.

Amobi Okugo officially waived by Sporting KC | The Blue Testament
This news got plenty of reactions yesterday, but I think that's all down to the first couple seasons of Okugo's career. In the last 15 months, Okugo has been traded from Philly (who suspected he wanted to head to Europe on a free) to Orlando, who in turn traded him to KC for Servando Carrasco (in other words, one backup defensive midfielder for another) while paying around $200,000 of his $300,000 salary for the privilege.

In other words, while Okugo is undeniably talented, the reaction was as if KC had just abruptly dumped a crucial piece of their puzzle. That seems out of line with where he is as a player right now. I'm more inclined to trust the judgment of Peter Vermes and Adrian Heath on this one. Okugo should be signed somewhere in MLS, but people need to think of him as a restoration project rather than a guy you plug straight into your lineup.

Referee assignments for MLS's first week of the 2016 season announced by the Professional Referee Organization |
Kevin Stott will be calling DC's league opener in LA. I'm not sure whether to be nervous or intrigued by the possibility of the fussy, showy Stott getting the chance to throw cards theatrically at Nigel de Jong or endure the petulance of Ashley Cole.

Elsewhere, the Richmond Kickers locked a familiar face in for 2016:

And on that note, I'm going to collapse into bed knowing that I need to be up in an uncomfortably short amount of time.