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El Clasico approaches, D.C. United & Washington Spirit on the road, & more: Freedom Kicks for 4/21/2017

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TAAAAAAAAAAAMMMMMMMMMMM!!! Always more TAM! And don’t forget #MartaWatch

Today is my birthday, and I have a request of all of you fine folks. Years ago, Ben & Jerry’s used to host a Free Cone Day that always fell within a couple days of my birthday, and I turned it into an ad hoc birthday celebration. I’d take off work, and wander the DMV, hitting up as many locations as I could while trying to get as many of my friends as I could to join me.

Is it silly? Yes. Is eating 6-8 ice cream cones too much ice cream? Obviously. Does the cost of using Metro to get around undo any savings you might have come up with with the free ice cream? Possibly. Am I holding a grudge against Ben & Jerry’s for moving Free Cone Day to early April, thus most likely meaning less than ideal weather in our part of the world? You’re damn right I am.

But whimsy is important in life, and that’s what I’m getting at here. My request is that if you can, do something today that is a little odd or difficult to explain, but that makes you happy. It can be eating 6-8 ice cream cones, but it doesn’t have to be.

And now with indulgences out of the way, let’s get to the links.

With D.C. sports on high, United and Spirit on notice | Washington Post
Steve Goff casts an eye towards D.C. United and the Washington Spirit after the District got two playoff wins (and a baseball win, if you have any room in your heart for those guys...I do not) on Wednesday night.

Bobby Boswell, D.C. United look to force an ‘ugly game’ at New England | Washington Post Express
I can’t say this approach for tomorrow’s game surprises me. With injuries mounting, it’s hard to mount too big of an argument for a more expansive, open approach against the New England Revolution. But when this road trip ends, and those injuries clear up? It’ll be time for United to kick into gear and be more than just Team Grind.

Arnaud has lived life loving the game | Beaumont Enterprise
Here’s a quick look in on former United midfielder Davy Arnaud, who is now an assistant with the Houston Dynamo.

Revs supporters group is organizing a bus to get you from Boston to Gillette | The Bent Musket
Why are New England Revolution supporters having to do this on their own? Shouldn’t this be something the Revs, as a club, have been invested in for years, given the distance between Foxborough and Boston?

As with all things Revs, the answer is most likely ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

José Andrés Eyes Rapid Expansion Thanks to New Partnership | Eater
There are a few tidbits in here on what the food situation might be like at Audi Field.

Reminder: we were promised pupusas

Opta stats could give NWSL's unsung heroes attention they deserve | FourFourTwo USA
The NWSL has linked up with Opta this year for the first time, and while there have been some kinks (e.g. Opta initially had North Carolina attempting 35 shots against the Spirit), it’s still going to help open up some new angles for discussion. Here’s one example that took painstaking video analysis:

I thought Caprice Dydasco was pretty underrated last season, partially due to a rocky start to the year. I did not expect to see data indicating that she was this valuable to Washington.

NWSL hopes to have go90 game streams available on the web for U.S. fans in 'a matter of weeks' | The Oregonian
This is most likely the consequence of the NWSL locking down a streaming partner very, very late in an offseason that saw a commissioner step down and a deal for national TV broadcasts forged, all while the specter of a USWNT strike hanging around the whole time. So it’s not entirely surprising that the whole streaming thing is still a work in progress.

Plus side for you Spirit fans: this week’s game is on Lifetime, so you shouldn’t have a hard time finding it. Next week, though...well, my suggestion is to trek up to the Plex, because streaming on go90 might still be an issue.

Speaking of the Spirit, our friends at Follow Your Spirit covered the Mal Pugh Situation (the capital S is merited in this case) and the narrative around the club these days:

Last Spirit note: Marta has arrived in Orlando. Which isn’t the best timing for Washington, but she’ll only get one training session in before the game, so it remains to be seen how much (if at all) she can play on Saturday.

NYCFC Notebook: Matarrita Injured, Will Miss a Month or More | Empire of Soccer
This is a huge loss for New York City FC, who don’t have an even remotely similar player to Ronald Matarrita to plug in. Options include using right backs RJ Allen or Shannon Gomez on the left, or bringing in Columbus cast-off Ben Sweat there, or switching full-time to a 343. That latter option does have a benefit (Rodney Wallace to LM, Tommy McNamara into the lineup), but it would expose Pirlo even more than he already is in their 433.

MLS owners to discuss another increase in TAM | Sports Illustrated
More TAM! TAAAAAAAAAMMMMMMMMMMMMMM!

This reminds me: I am softening my position that DCU’s summer TAM signing should be a #6, and have started to wonder about center backs instead. Ultimately I’d still prefer a defensive midfielder, but it’s getting closer in my mind.

El Clasico will be decided by small details | Managing Madrid
Barcelona appeal dismissed, Neymar set to miss El Clásico against Real Madrid | Barca Blaugranes
Real Madrid, after a dramatic Champions League success, faces Barcelona (who were just shut out over 2 legs by Juventus). Barcelona will have to find a way to win without Neymar, or they’ll most likely kiss any shot at winning La Liga goodbye.

That’s probably more than enough reading/listening material. Remember your homework. Get weird out there!