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Around The Forest: How to fix the MLS Playoffs

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Jim Curtin remains in Philly, S2 on the move, Beckerman drops the dreads and more

Portland

Portland Timbers vs. Houston Dynamo | 2017 Conference Semifinal Preview | MLSsoccer.com
It may be a matter of the team doing the most with the least in the decisive second leg of the Western Conference Semifinal series between the Portland Timbers and Houston Dynamo on Sunday. The teams, knotted at 0-0 in the series after the first leg in Houston, now head to Portland with a spot in the Western Conference Championship on the line.

Major League Soccer

Vancouver Whitecaps Reyna, Techera unlikely to start Leg 2 vs. Sounders | MLSsoccer.com
It sounds like Vancouver Whitecaps attackers Yordy Reyna and Cristian Techera will start on the bench for Leg 2 of the Western Conference Semifinals at the Seattle Sounders on Thursday night (10:30pm ET | FS1, FOX Deportes; TSN5, TVAS).

Philadelphia Union will bring back head coach Jim Curtin in 2018 | MLSsoccer.com
The Philadelphia Union announced a slew of roster moves Wednesday as they begin an offseason overhaul. But Union sporting director Earnie Stewart made another major decision that stressed continuity over change: retaining head coach Jim Curtin.

Clint Dempsey raring to make long-awaited playoff return for Seattle | MLSsoccer.com
The Seattle Sounders’ star forward and US national team legend is coming off a bit of a rough stretch, starting with the USMNT’s shocking elimination from World Cup qualifying last month. He then picked up a first-half red card in Seattle’s regular season finale against the Colorado Rapids on Oct. 22, leaving him suspended for the first leg of Seattle’s Western Conference semifinal matchup against the Vancouver Whitecaps in the 2017 Audi MLS Cup playoffs.

MLS playoffs: Simple steps for fixing the faulty format | SI.com
We start by acknowledging that playoffs are good. This is a North American sports league, so forget the idea of a single table or a season without playoffs. That’s not happening. The whole point of this exercise is to propose a blueprint that is more exciting for fans and better for sporting priorities that MLS owners might actually choose to follow.

View from Couch: Columbus Crew SC play their way and reward ... all of us | MLSsoccer.com
The one that triggered an undefeated run that dates back to August. That took out Atlanta United. That has New York City FC on the precipice of a second consecutive postseason meldown. (Who am I kidding? The meltdown manifested in a sea of, uhm ... ah ... Afful broken ankles in stoppage time Monday night.)

S2 officially moving to Tacoma for 2018 season - Sounder At Heart
The future is officially now when it comes to the long-term home of Sounders FC 2. The USL club announced on Wednesday that it will begin playing at Cheney Stadium for the 2018 season before moving into a soccer-specific stadium, which is targeted for 2020. Sounder at Heart first reported the move almost exactly two weeks ago.

Real Salt Lake's Kyle Beckerman cuts his dreadlocks | MLSsoccer.com
The longtime Real Salt Lake captain shocked the MLS world this week, when it was revealed in an on-camera interview at Rio Tinto Stadium that he’s cut his trademark dreads. The 35-year-old midfielder had sported the hairstyle for over a decade; it became synonymous with him around MLS, and got him some extra attention from the general public during the 2014 World Cup.

Ryan Hollingshead named 2017 AdvoCare MLS WORKS Humanitarian of the Year | MLSsoccer.com
FC Dallas' Ryan Hollingshead was named on Thursday the 2017 MLS WORKS Humanitarian of the Year, presented by AdvoCare. The 26-year-old put his career and life on the line to help a stranger in need this January. On an icy night in Irving, Texas, Hollingshead, who was en route to help a friend who had been in a car accident, stopped to help another driver at the scene of a separate accident.

United States

Are we growing soccer fast enough in America? - Stars and Stripes FC
Soccer is booming in the United States. By almost all measures, the sport is making significant progress into the consciousness of the country. The USWNT regained their place at the top in the 2015 Women’s World Cup, and more people than ever are playing and watching soccer.

World

Lionel Messi donates €70k to charity after winning libel case against newspaper - ESPN FC
Lionel Messi has fulfilled a promise made last year to Doctors Without Borders and donated over €70,000 to the charity after winning a libel case against newspaper La Razon, the player's management company has confirmed.

Christian Pulisic plays down Dortmund crisis: 'It can only get better' - ESPN FC
United States international Christian Pulisic insisted his Borussia Dortmund team are not in crisis after a disappointing 1-1 draw against APOEL in the Champions League meant their fifth winless match in six tries.

Serie A: Eder signs Inter Milan extension until 2021 | Goal.com
Eder has signed a contract extension with Inter to keep him at the club until June 2021.The Italy international joined Inter initially on an 18-month loan deal from Sampdoria in January 2016 before an option to sign him to a permanent contract until 2020 was activated that August.