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Around The Forest: MLS Playoffs knockout round edition

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Fire fall, Whitecaps route San Jose and much more!

Portland

A by-the-numbers look at how the Portland Timbers got into the Audi 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs | Portland Timbers
The Audi 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs are here and the Portland Timbers enter it atop the Western Conference with a bye into the Western Conference semifinals. While the Timbers await their next opponent—the lower seed to come out of the midweek Knockout Round matches—let’s take a by-the-numbers look at how the Timbers got to this point.

Major League Soccer

Boehm: MLS's West is Cascadia’s world; the rest of us are just stuck in it | MLSsoccer.com
Let’s be honest: MLS aficionados in other parts of North America can sometimes get tired of hearing about the league’s Cascadian trio. Portland, Seattle and Vancouver draw big, boisterous crowds that roll out smugly ambitious tifo. They draw impressive amounts of water in their local sporting landscapes.

Fredy Montero, Vancouver Whitecaps break through, set to face familiar foe | MLSsoccer.com
It was a night of playoff firsts for both the Vancouver Whitecaps and star forward Fredy Montero at BC Place on Wednesday evening. Montero finished his four previous MLS seasons – all with the Seattle Sounders – as the Rave Green's all-time leading scorer. It's a record he still holds, five years on. Yet the one strike that eluded Montero during his time in Seattle was a postseason goal.

Will Schweinsteiger return to Chicago? "We will see how it is" | MLSsoccer.com
On what proved to be a wholly miserable 4-0 loss of a night for the Chicago Fire, it was perhaps a telling moment that Bastian Schweinsteiger evoked the most vocal reaction from a largely shell-shocked and subdued crowd at Toyota Park.

Hot Takes: The new-look Red Bulls, the Fire's future and Vancouver's key | MLSsoccer.com
If you're an MLS fan, you're probably very familiar with his work. During the Audi 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs, ExtraTime Radio co-host David Gass will be working overtime, sharing the astute, critical observations that have become a staple for listeners of the flagship podcast.

Fire forthright after playoff exit: "The better team won, plain and simple" | MLSsoccer.com
The writing was on the wall as early as the seventh minute, as the Chicago Fire’s Audi 2017 MLS Cup Playoff ambitions were quickly and ruthlessly destroyed by the New York Red Bulls at Toyota Park on Wednesday night.

Report: Roland Alberg to join Bulgarian club CSKA Sofia | MLSsoccer.com
Roland Alberg will reportedly leave the Philadelphia Union to join Bulgarian side CSKA Sofia in January. Bulgarian reporter Teodor Borisov tweeted on Wednesday that CSKA Sofia sporting director Stoycho Stoilov announced the move on Bulgarian TV.

United States

Neither MLS nor the conniving owner of the Columbus Crew own soccer in Columbus - Howler Magazine
The news that Anthony Precourt, who owns the Columbus Crew, wants to move the team to Austin caught me by surprise. I thought, “Oh no. That’s terrible news.” Columbus is as integral to Major League Soccer as any city. No club is indispensable, but Lamar Hunt’s legacy and the Crew’s history seem like a lot for American soccer to lose just because you got stuck with an insincere owner

Laurent Blanc, Sam Allardyce address USMNT job rumors | SBI Soccer
Laurent Blanc and Sam Allardyce became the first foreign managers linked to the U.S. Men’s National Team job earlier this week, and both have taken the chance to address the rumors early.

World

AFC Wimbledon, MK Dons, and the tyranny of decorum - Howler Magazine
It’s a fact of life that institutions care more about preserving order than bringing justice. This is playing out before our eyes on matters that are far more important than AFC Wimbledon’s current troubles with the English Football League, but the dynamic is similar. It creates situations where a victim of harm or injustice who draws attention to their tormentors is often punished more severely than the tormentors themselves.

Nice striker Mario Balotelli - Personal criticism annoys me - ESPN FC
Nice forward Mario Balotelli says he dislikes personal criticism even if he is happy to rise above questions over his performance, and that he remains hopeful he will play for Italy again.

Danny Drinkwater: Waiting to make debut for Chelsea was 'killing me' - ESPN FC
Danny Drinkwater says the wait for his Chelsea debut was "killing" him after finally making his first appearance for the club in Wednesday's 2-1 Carabao Cup victory over Everton.