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Around The Forest: Sporting Kansas City’s Tim Melia wins goalkeeper of the year

Matt Doyle talks Caleb Porter, Luka Modric outcast to all-world midfielder, USMNT legend Landon Donovan, NWSL lands in Utah and more!

Portland

Armchair Analyst: Caleb Porter's Portland tenure comes to a close | MLSsoccer.com
It was unexpected. Caleb Porter had guided a dinged and damaged Portland Timbers team to the top of the Western Conference during the regular season, and then – as they proceeded to pick up a few more dings, and sustain yet more damage – they battled gamely in the Western Conference semifinals before falling, 2-1 to Houston.

Major League Soccer

What creates pressure on the Union? The team tries to build it from within
Of all the questions to ask the Union this winter, one in particular stands out. What, exactly, is the pressure on them to succeed? Especially since MLS doesn’t have relegation? That absence is well-known, especially to players and coaches who come here from abroad. It’s hotly debated among fans.

Dynamo's Adolfo Machado inspired by Sounders' Roman Torres - Houston Chronicle
Dynamo defender Adolfo Machado always will fondly remember watching Roman Torres score the winning penalty for Seattle Sounders FC in the 2016 MLS Cup Final. Next week, though, a subplot to Machado's mission will be to make sure Torres does not have an opportunity to do it again.

Roldan's constant evolution in Seattle has made him among Sounders' best - ESPN FC
Like many soccer-crazed youngsters of his generation, Roldan idolized Barca midfielders Andres Iniesta and Xavi. They shaped how he saw the game. They were the guys he lined up alongside in his daydreams.

Sporting KC's Tim Melia wins 2017 MLS goalkeeper of year | The Kansas City Star
On an evening in November 2014 in Washington, D.C., Tim Melia was contemplating his professional soccer future, wondering if maybe he had chosen the wrong career path. He was a pool goalkeeper, therefore available to any MLS team but apparently unwanted by them all. On this night, he had trekked 3,000 miles to suit up for a playoff game, only to be told he wouldn’t be needed.

Donovan confident in coaching abilities, but not interested in pro ranks | MLSsoccer.com
Nearly nine months have passed since former LA Galaxy and US national team forward Landon Donovan officially announced his retirement from playing, confirming that there wouldn’t be another comeback. Since then, Donovan has returned to the game, not as a player but as a TV analyst, joining the FOX Sports team in covering the CONCACAF Gold Cup this past summer.

TFC's Giovinco vents about "ridiculous" yellow card that led to suspension | MLSsoccer.com
As the international window finally draws to a close, Sebastian Giovinco just wants to play. “It's too long, this is the principle point,” said Giovinco after training on Wednesday. “I don't like to have this break, I like to play, but this is the schedule for the next three weeks. This is what it is.”

NWSL

Plot twist? How Real Salt Lake's abrupt addition to NWSL could change Laura Harvey's plans | FourFourTwo
With the change of course that’s brought Real Salt Lake into the National Women's Soccer League potentially comes another, related change of plans, one that sees one of the most successful head coaches in league history become an early candidate for another league job.

United States

CONCACAF announces new Nations League to begin in September 2018 - Stars and Stripes FC
The makeover of the CONCACAF friendly schedule has begun, and a new competition has emerged. CONCACAF president Victor Montagliani told Reuters today that the confederation will launch a new Nations League competition that will begin in September 2018. The format will be comparable to UEFA’s Nations League competition that will also begin next September. The tournament will involve all of CONCACAF’s member nations, including the United States and Mexico.

World

Italian soccer can’t blame foreigners for not making the World Cup - SBNation.com
It hasn’t even been a week since Italy was beaten over two legs by Sweden and denied a spot in the upcoming World Cup and foreign players in Italy are being blamed for it. Paolo Cannavaro, brother of Fabio Cannavaro, reacted to the news on Instagram by calling for an exit of the “mummies” who control Italian soccer and the ones blocking Italian youth from succeeding:

How Luka Modric went from rejected youth player to the best midfielder in the world | Goal.com
Luka Modric is getting better with age. The Real Madrid midfielder recently featured in FIFPro's team of the year at the gala for The Best and he finished third in this year's Goal 50 vote, behind only Cristiano Ronaldo and Gianluigi Buffon. He really is that good.

Man Utd team news: Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Paul Pogba fit to face Newcastle | Goal.com
Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Paul Pogba are both fit for Manchester United's Premier League clash with Newcastle, manager Jose Mourinho has confirmed. Ibrahimovic has not appeared for United since April after suffering a serious knee injury, though that did not deter the Red Devils from offering him a fresh one-year deal.