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Around The Forest: Bill Tuiloma helps the New Zealand earn hard fought draw

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Portland

International Notebook | Timbers' Bill Tuiloma and New Zealand earn a gutsy scoreless draw with Peru in World Cup playoff qualifier | Portland Timbers
Portland Timbers midfielder Bill Tuiloma helped New Zealand secure an important 0-0 draw with Peru in the first leg of a home-and-home World Cup intercontinental playoff Saturday. In front of a boisterous crowd of over 37,000 in Wellington, the All Whites went toe-to-toe with the heavily favored La Blanquirroja.

Major League Soccer

Crew SC's Jonathan Mensah appears to have conquered MLS learning curve | MLSsoccer.com
Columbus Crew SC head coach Gregg Berhalter signed the Ghanaian in the offseason, dubbing him the solution to the team's defensive woes. Berhalter said he expected Mensah to dominate and make an immediate impact.

What went wrong in 2017? Sporting KC debate latest early playoff exit | MLSsoccer.com
See if you've heard this question before. (Hint: If you've followed Sporting Kansas City for all or any of the last four seasons, you've probably heard and asked it.) What happened to Sporting down the regular-season stretch to force them onto the road for a Knockout Round exit in the Audi 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs?

FC Dallas president Dan Hunt: Pay-to-play is not an issue | MLSsoccer.com
FC Dallas owner and president Dan Hunt knows US Soccer has some problems it must solve in the wake of the US men’s national team’s failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup. He just doesn’t think pay-to-play is one of them.

Best of MLS: Top 5 controversies of 2017 | MLSsoccer.com
Bulletin board material, fuel for the media fire and plenty of good, old-fashioned entertainment. Controversies don’t decide matches, but they do add lots of intrigue to every MLS season. 2017 was of course no exception. What were the top controversies of the year? Let’s dive in

Best of MLS: The 5 wildest finishes of the 2017 season | MLSsoccer.com
Whether it’s a ferocious strike that completes a comeback or a huge save that preserves a late lead, there’s little better than a fantastic finish to a soccer match. MLS certainly had its fair share of down-to-the-wire contests in 2017, with plenty of memorable finishes throughout the regular season. Here are our top 5 finishes from the campaign:

Fire GM addresses players' futures as Chicago aim to build on 2017 rebound | MLSsoccer.com
For the past several offseasons, roster turnover for the Chicago Fire has been more about picking out what parts worked from a disappointing season. Now, after finishing third in the Eastern Conference, the Fire are in a slightly different position.

Year of joy, pain comes full circle for Panama, Toronto FC's Armando Cooper | MLSsoccer.com
When Roman Torres scored in the 88th minute against Costa Rica on October 10, sending Panama to their first World Cup, Toronto FC midfielder Armando Cooper had no idea what to do with himself. “[My] initial reaction was to chase after him, celebrate with him,” said Cooper earlier this month, speaking through a translator. “But I never made it anywhere close. I ended up celebrating in the middle of the pitch with somebody else.”

The snubs list: How Sporting KC's Ike Opara used doubters to fuel his fire | MLSsoccer.com
“You can't be satisfied just by one season. You can't be satisfied with what's taken place,” Opara told reporters earlier this month, shortly before being named the 2017 MLS Defender of the Year. “For me, I want more. Having a taste of success – once you get a taste of success, you want more, just like you want more money.

United States

1,834 Days | By Christian Pulisic
In my heart, I knew it was over when we walked off the field. I think we all did. There were all of these complicated mathematical scenarios, but we knew the biggest one: We had to at least tie. Had to have that last goal. And we were grinding for it like crazy, right up until the very end. But we didn’t get it. And once we didn’t get it, and we were walking off that field — well, that’s when I pretty much knew.

USA vs. Portugal, 2017 friendly: What to watch for - Stars and Stripes FC
It’s the final match of the year for the United States as they face Portugal, the defending European champions and the 3rd-ranked team in the world, tomorrow in Leiria. For the Americans, it’s a chance to end the year on a high note after failing to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, and it’s an opportunity to begin evaluating the future of the USMNT through some of the young talent that has been called into camp by interim head coach Dave Sarachan.

World

Pogba only named 31st best player in the world | Goal.com
Manchester United's €105 million man Paul Pogba has only placed 31st in the 2017 Goal 50. The France international rejoined the English outfit last summer for a then world-record fee, four years after leaving for Juventus on a free transfer.

Tottenham striker Harry Kane has drive and ambition to be the best - Scott Parker | Goal.com
Harry Kane’s key to success is his unbelievable belief, according to his former Tottenham Hotspur team-mate Scott Parker. Kane made his Spurs debut in August 2011, just a week before the club signed Parker, and the striker subsequently built up his experience during loan spells at Millwall, Norwich and Leicester.

Kevin De Bruyne: Belgium need tactical improvement and can't just rely on skill - ESPN FC
Kevin De Bruyne has questioned Belgium coach Roberto Martinez's tactics, saying the country cannot just rely on their individual talents at the World Cup. Belgium were held to a 3-3 draw by Mexico in Brussels on Friday, and Manchester City star De Bruyne said the result was a wake-up call.