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D.C. United opening day at Audi Field and more: Freedom Kicks for 1/5/2018

Thaw yourself out in order to read some words

Your Friday Freedom Kicks are late because shoveling and being outside in yesterday’s heavy winds ended with me going to bed early rather than writing. On the plus side, those same weather conditions have left enough frozen snow and ice that I’m taking a half day, so I’m around to finish up. Winter storm taketh away, winter storm giveth back.

D.C. United will open Audi Field on July 14, setting up All-Star Week on waterfront | Washington Post
Steve Goff has some details about Audi Field and the 2018 schedule, including the possibility of a soft opening in June.

Young South American stars could transform MLS on world stage |
The arrival of guys like Ulises Segura and Junior Moreno has moved D.C. United high up the list of MLS teams who are looking for players from Latin America while they’re still on the rise.

Running the rule over this winter’s international signings so far |
When you compare United’s haul to the rest of MLS at this point in the offseason, the Black-and-Red’s moves look pretty good on paper. Time will tell of course, but it’s better that than building purely via the MLS bargain bin and the Danny Allsopps of the world.

New York Red Bulls explain Sacha Kljestan trade, hint at replacement |
Denis Hamlett tries here to explain NYRB’s choice to trade Sacha Kljestan. What he doesn’t explain is their choice to trade him, with money attached, for a decent prospect and a less-than-decent prospect. He also doesn’t explain why they’re apparently pursuing a winger to replace Kljestan, who is not a winger.

Could the USMNT lose Jonathan Gonzalez to Mexico? | Stars and Stripes FC
US Soccer appointed an unpopular caretaker manager in Dave Sarachan so that someone was around to do the basics and lead the team through the Portugal friendly last year and this month’s January camp. One of those basics should have been making a phone call or getting on a plane to contact Jonathan Gonzalez, an 18 year old starter for Liga MX’s current champions.

Instead, per Gonzalez, no one called him. No one at US Soccer thought it was important to get in touch with an 18 year old starter for Monterrey, the best club in CONCACAF, about incorporating him into the national team going forward, even as this is supposed to be a time where the USMNT is supposed to be leaning hard towards a youth movement.

I get mad every time I think about this. Mexico thinks the door to talk Gonzalez into playing for them is open, and thanks to US Soccer’s continued bungling of everything, who’s to say it isn’t?

Wynalda, Commisso Set Record Straight on U.S. Soccer Election Campaign Backing | Sports Illustrated
It’s kind of odd to me that there’s so much focus on whether Eric Wynalda’s campaign is being funded by a particular NASL owner, when it is being funded by another NASL owner (though Wynalda claims here that Riccardo Silva’s contributions are not the major source of his campaign’s finances).

Ronaldinho and the Right-Winger | The Jacobin
Well this is discouraging.

Torii for goalposts | Where Is Football
If you’re like me, you’ve found yourself daydreaming about spending some large chunk of time wandering Japan, attending the nearest team’s games and immersing yourself in something that is both the same, yet very different. If you’re like me, this piece will hit home. Omiya Ardija is even one of the random Japanese teams I could see following (on a list with Cerezo Osaka, Kawasaki Frontale, Consadole Sapporo, and FC Ryukyu).

I’m done. Stay safe out there today!