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Around The Forest: Sounders advance to Western Conference Finals

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Whitecaps offer no excuses, Kelyn Rowe talks USMNT, RSL’s Movsisyan not taking bench role and more!

Portland

Quick Strikes | The Timbers strong play at home comes to the fore against Houston | Portland Timbers
After a 0-0 draw in the first leg, the Western Conference Semifinals series between the Portland Timbers and the Houston Dynamo will finish up at Providence Park Sunday (4:30pm, FS1). Here are five numbers to know for #PORvHOU in a special Audi 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs edition of Quick Strikes.

Major League Soccer

Seattle Sounders 2, Vancouver Whitecaps FC 0 | MLS Cup Playoffs Recap | MLSsoccer.com
The Western Conference Semifinals series between the Seattle Sounders and Vancouver Whitecaps FC played out how many rivalry matches go. Tight and tense with little to separate the two teams. The difference between them came from a moment of brilliance that ended with a perfectly-placed shot from a legend.

Armchair Analyst: 'Caps lack of intent the story as Seattle cruise through | MLSsoccer.com
The damning part wasn't when Clint Dempsey lashed home a left-footed strike from the top of the box in the 56th minute of play, nor was it 32 minutes later when he snuck back post to add a second. Nor was the damning part in the first leg, when the Whitecaps sat back in their own third, comfortable and content with a scoreless home draw, and it wasn't in the first half of this night's 2-0 loss in the second leg at CenturyLink Field.

Dempsey after brace: "I just want to make the most of the time I have left" | MLSsoccer.com
Last season, while his Seattle Sounders teammates embarked on one of the most remarkable regular season turnarounds in league history and won the franchise’s first-ever MLS Cup, Clint Dempsey was watching from the sidelines – shelved for the season after doctors detected an irregular heartbeat.

No excuses for Robinson, 'Caps after disappointment: "The better team won" | MLSsoccer.com
The Audi 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs started off with a bang for Vancouver Whitecaps FC but on Thursday they ended with a whimper at CenturyLink Field. The 'Caps went down to a 2-0 loss on the night, and on aggregate, to the Seattle Sounders, after an uninspired performance, and they looked outclassed by their Cascadian rivals at times over the 180 minutes of the tie.

Kelyn Rowe aiming to return to US national team picture in 2018 | MLSsoccer.com
Rowe missed nearly all of September and October due to a right knee sprain and finished the season with one goal and seven assists, the lowest combined goal and assist total since his rookie year in 2012. He also saw Jay Heaps, the only head coach he’s ever played professional soccer for, fired by New England in September.

Yura Movsisyan: "I'm not going to come back and sit on the bench again" | MLSsoccer.com
The 30-year-old Designated Player endured a very disappointing 2017 with RSL, engaging in multiple public spats with manager Mike Petke before being linked to a move to Europe over the summer. He scored seven goals in 28 league appearances and 16 starts, only one of which came after July 4.

Puerto Rico MNT hope Orlando friendly amplifies calls for hurricane relief | MLSsoccer.com
Death, destruction and ongoing devastation are not the usual backdrop to a soccer game. But Orlando City SC’s specially-arranged friendly with the Puerto Rico national team on Saturday is no usual game. Just to start with, it will the final appearance in purple of Lions captain and three-year face of the franchise Kaká, who will be moving on to new ventures in 2018.

United States

Jonathan Gonzalez is probably committed to the USMNT but it doesn’t matter until 2019 - Stars and Stripes FC
It’s a story we’ve heard time and time again as American soccer followers. A player is eligible to play for the United States and another country, and is being swayed by both sides. The story is the same currently for Jonathan Gonzalez, a 18-year-old midfielder who is making a name for himself at Monterrey this season.

World

FIFA confederations consider new 'Global Nations League' - ESPN FC
More worldwide football tournaments involving potentially all national teams could be coming to every odd-numbered year, under a new proposal. The UEFA-led Global Nations League could replace many often-meaningless friendly matches, officials briefed on the project told The Associated Press.

Time to walk away? Simeone's Atletico fairytale seems set for an unhappy ending | Goal.com
Is the dream dying for Diego Simeone at Atletico Madrid? Failure to beat lowly Qarabag either away or at home has left the Rojiblancos on the brink of a shock exit in the Champions League and there are signs that this fairytale is slowly heading for an unhappy ending.

Where has it all gone wrong for Dortmund? BVB's season already in danger of collapsing | Goal.com
Their emphatic start to the season set club and league records, but it has taken just a few weeks for things to reach a critical point for Borussia Dortmund. A run of two wins from nine games in all competitions has seen them all but eliminated from the Champions League and leaves them in terrible shape ahead of Saturday’s visit of Bayern Munich.