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Around The Forest: The Timbers hit the 50 point mark for the 3rd time

What you might have missed this weekend, taking a look at pay to play, Toronto FC on verge of a record and more!


#StatMan Three | Timbers hit 50 point mark for third time as they earn 2017 playoff spot | Portland Timbers
The Portland Timbers returned to Providence Park with an emphatic 4-0 victory over D.C. United Sunday. Here are three key #StatMan takeaways from #PORvDC.

Major League Soccer:

Swan songs, tailspins, devastating Diegos: What you missed in MLS Week 32 |
With every Eastern Conference game kicking off at the same time on Sunday afternoon and the Western Conference slate doing the same two and a half hours later, Week 32 was a relentless blur of soccer from coast to coast across North America.

Quakes control their own MLS playoff destiny after key draw
Even with their playoff hopes dwindling the San Jose Earthquakes refused to quit. The Earthquakes got a goal from Vako in the 77th minute then goalkeeper Andrew Tarbell made some huge stops in the dying moments for a 1-1 draw with the Vancouver Whitecaps Sunday.

Galaxy defeat Minnesota, avoid tying MLS record of fewest home wins in a season - LA Times
The Galaxy held their annual fan appreciation day Sunday at StubHub Center, giving away prizes to thank their supporters for sticking with the team through what has been a dismal year. But the most welcome gift may have been the final whistle from referee Alex Chilowicz. Because even with a 3-0 win over Minnesota United, 2017 will go into the books as the worst home season in the franchise’s 22-year history.

With MLS scoring title nearly locked up, Nemanja Nikolic views it as 'work of one year' | NBC Sports Chicago
Nemanja Nikolic has won scoring titles before in his career so his place at the top of the Major League Soccer goal-scoring list is not an unfamiliar place for him.

MLS round-up: Toronto FC on the verge of record MLS season | Football News | Sky Sports
A 1-0 win over arch-rivals Montreal Impact thanks to Jozy Altidore's 16th-minute goal moved them to 68 points, tying the league record for the most points in a campaign set by LA Galaxy in 1998. With one game left to play, Toronto have the chance to eclipse that record when they visit Atlanta United next Sunday

Seattle Sounders Portland Timbers Sporting KC and Houston Dynamo clinch MLS playoff berths - ESPN FC
Will Bruin scored twice in four minutes midway through the second half and the Seattle Sounders clinched a playoff berth and a chance to defend their MLS Cup by beating FC Dallas 4-0 on Sunday.

Crew Cuts: For Crew SC's Artur, facing Kaka 'a dream' - Sports - The Columbus Dispatch - Columbus, OH
Crew midfielder Artur looks at Orlando City’s Kaka and sees some symmetry. The 21-year-old Brazilian midfielder has had his first long look at professional soccer in Columbus, where he is on loan for the season, but made his debut with Sao Paulo FC. Kaka, too, got his start with Sao Paulo FC, playing in the club’s youth system for much of the mid to late 90s before making his professional debut with the Brazilian club as a 19-year-old in 2001. In 2014, the year before Orlando City

United States:

Reframing the Pay-to-Play conversation — Bobby Warshaw
American soccer has a lot of decisions to make in the coming years. Perhaps it will decide to stay the course, an act that has become a decision in itself amidst mounting pressure to change. I’m not sure what the right answers will be, but I worry we aren’t approaching them properly. Before we can make intelligent decisions, we need to frame the questions the right way. When we truly grasp the depth of the questions, then we can start to find good answers. One topic that’s on everyone’s mind and that just doesn't feel right to me right is “pay-to-play.”

SSFC roundtable: What this USMNT loss means for the program - Stars and Stripes FC
While we at Stars & Stripes FC continue to process our feelings about the U.S. Men’s National Team not qualifying for the 2018 World Cup, we passed around a few questions about the state of the program. Here’s what some of our contributors think of what went wrong, whether Sunil Gulati and Bruce Arena should quit, and what it all means for the USMNT beyond 2018.


How Losing Neymar To PSG Helped Barcelona Pay For Lionel Messi's New Contract And Others As Well
FC Barcelona has issued its final financial report for the 2016-17 season. The report came along with a number of team-provided conclusions. The team recorded its highest revenue in its history at $835M (€708m at exchange rate of 1.18), it recorded an increase of $128M (€109m) in marketing revenue over the previous seven years, and perhaps most importantly there was a reduction of the net amount of debt carried by the organization from $321M (€272m) to $292M (€247m).

'Our principles remain the same' Pep struggles to explain Man City's improvement in front of goal |
Pep Guardiola has admitted he cannot explain the change which has made Manchester City one of the most potent attacking forces in Premier League history over recent months. The former Barcelona coach suffered mixed fortunes in his debut season at the Etihad Stadium, securing Champions League football but failing to challenge Chelsea for the title.

Chelsea are 'in trouble' following defeat at Crystal Palace - Antonio Conte - ESPN FC
Antonio Conte admitted that Chelsea are "in trouble" after a third Premier League defeat of the season against Crystal Palace saw them slip nine points adrift of leaders Manchester City in the title race.