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D.C. United vs. Real Salt Lake, Sporting KC wins in Concacaf Champions League, and more: Freedom Kicks for 3/15/2019

United hosts RSL tomorrow, while Chicago lands Nico Gaitán

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It should be up into the 70s today for the first time this year, just in time for D.C. United’s game against Real Salt Lake tomorrow night. Glad to see spring arriving just in time for a day where a bunch of us will be outside watching soccer! Surely our region’s March weather won’t take an abrupt turn back towards being cold and windy.

(sees forecast that has gametime temperatures in the mid-40s with a consistent breeze)

Uh. Well, it’s randomly warm on a Friday before the end of winter? I’ll take it.

D.C. United to host friendly against Real Betis | Black and Red United
I’m not big on the timing of this game, but United has the depth to rotate, so it’s not as rough as last year’s Olimpia friendly. Also, after involving public funds, the least the team can do is have more events than just the league schedule, so I’m not going to get worked up about this one.

D.C. United to play Spain’s Real Betis in first Audi Field visit by a European club | Washington Post
Steve Goff has some details about other friendlies that are coming up later this year, and a note on where Loudoun United’s first home games are likely to be played.

D.C. United reaping rewards of Paul Arriola’s U.S. national team lessons | Washington Post
Paul Arriola’s current circumstances — his confidence is high, his role on United’s roster is more clear thanks to other additions, the talent around him — bode extremely well for him. Last year’s numbers feel like a step rather than the whole journey.

Paul Arriola On His Blistering Start To The New D.C. United Season | Pitch Pass
Speaking of Arriola, here he is on Pitch Pass, hanging out with his dogs and talking about this start to the season.

Tab Ramos calls in 20 for final training camp before U-20 World Cup | Stars and Stripes FC
Chris Durkin is on the US under-20 roster, but won’t miss any games here.

Speaking of called up but not missing any games, Junior Moreno is heading off for games against Argentina and the Catalan “national” team.

The Real Questions: March 14, 2019 | RSL Soapbox
Out in Utah, our friends at RSL Soapbox are a little concerned with travel given that Real Salt Lake follows up tomorrow’s game with a trip to LA next week.

Come eat and drink in Buzzard Point’s new Sandlot | WTOP
Good news: there’s a new place to hang out on Buzzard Point before games. Bad news: it is baseball-themed. But that shouldn’t stop you from grabbing a drink of your choice and hanging out there if you’re interested.

What happened to Salvador Cabañas? | ESPN FC
Take some time to read about how Salvador Cabañas, who survived being shot in the head while playing for Club America, is getting on with his life.

Ashlyn Harris on engagement to Ali Krieger: ‘Everything’s just magical’ | Pro Soccer USA
Really glad Ali Krieger and Ashlyn Harris are in a place where they can openly live their lives, but I also really wish our society had made this easier on them.

Persistence: Sporting KC endures, triumphs big in Concacaf Champions Quarterfinal | The Blue Testament
Independiente goalkeeper Jose Guerra was brilliant, making 9 saves in under half an hour at one point, before Sporting Kansas City finally broke through. From there, the Sporks ran off with it, winning 3-0 on the night (4-2 aggregate), and advancing to face Monterrey in the Concacaf Champions League semifinals.

MLS aims to be best in North America, but CCL results show it’s not close yet | The Athletic
There’s a lot in here about spending, and it’s true: MLS clubs aren’t spending on players 6-14 on their rosters like Liga MX clubs do, and it shows. But as Peter Vermes points out, another major problem that we tend to undersell is the fact that MLS clubs are playing CCL games a couple of months earlier than would be ideal. Jumping from the preseason straight into the tournament may be an old problem, but nothing has changed on that front at all, and the results keep being similar.

Gaitán Officially Signs With The Fire | Hot Time in Old Town
The Chicago Fire have confirmed landing Nico Gaitán, who figures to be their #10. With a better coach, they’d have a pretty dangerous lineup! But they don’t have a better coach, so we’ll see how it goes.

How MLS rules shaped the Chicago Fire’s pursuit of Nico Gaitan |
Sam Stejskal has more details on how this signing came to pass.

Inter Miami wants to play first two seasons at Lockhart Stadium, awaits Fort Lauderdale’s approval | Miami Herald
These friggin’ grifters announced that they will move into a stadium that a) MLS left behind many years ago for sound reasons, b) is roughly equivalent to telling D.C. residents that they’re building in Baltimore, and c) isn’t even theirs to claim! The city of Fort Lauderdale could still hand control of the site to another group.

Seattle’s five-year plan for academy shows signs of bearing fruit |
If you’ve been thinking a lot about Loudoun United over the past few months, you definitely need to read this piece on what the Sounders are doing.

I don’t have an ending, so here’s a complete non-sequitur: