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Around The Forest: Host Cities make their bid for the 2026 World Cup

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Chara and Valeri leading the way, Coutinho still not in the squad, LAFC drop more renderings and more!

Portland:

Quick Strikes | Diego Chara, Diego Valeri both near top of league's stat charts | Portland Timbers
For the last time this season, the Portland Timbers will head to the East Coast as the club will take on New York City FC on Saturday at Yankee Stadium (2:30pm PT, ROOT SPORTS). Here are five numbers to know for #NYCvPOR in the latest quick strikes.

Major League Soccer:

The story of Sporting KC star Gerso Fernandes | The Kansas City Star
The beat of a drum banged through the sold-out stadium, the harmonic chant from thousands growing louder and louder for a man who grew up in an orphanage. “Hey! Ho! Ger-so!” the voices yelled, to the rhythm of a 1976 Ramones song. “Hey! Ho! Ger-so!”

As the LA Galaxy rebuild, they're fueling with their private organic garden | MLSsoccer.com
It started with a simple question at a meeting at the start of 2016. Katie Pandolfo, the general manager of StubHub Center, asked chief engineer Gary Wilson if the LA Galaxy's home venue could have a garden. When he answered yes, Pandolfo tacked on another question: “Can we have a greenhouse?

Joevin Jones update: Left back returns to Sounders training - Sounder At Heart
Waylaying fears that he may have been trying to force his release, Joevin Jones was back in Seattle Sounders training on Thursday after skipping out without permission a week before the recently concluded international break.

10 things MLS fans need to know about Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium | MLSsoccer.com
Everything about Atlanta’s new Mercedes-Benz Stadium is big. The total cost? $1.5 billion. The amount of steel used in its construction? 28,000 tons. The square footage? 2 million. Even the number of beer taps inspires awe: 1,264, compared to only 30 in the soon-to-be-demolished Georgia Dome.

Armchair Analyst: East-West contests dominate, but plenty at stake in Wk 27 | MLSsoccer.com
It's a weird-ish week for this late in the season, largely because so many of the games are inter-conference affairs. These contests can still crackle – who's not looking forward to NYCFC vs. Portland (Saturday, 5:30 pm ET; MLS LIVE), right? – but there's never as much on the line as during intra-conference affairs, games that are true six-pointers.

Watch: LAFC unveils new stadium renderings – ProSoccerTalk
Los Angeles Football Club is preparing for its inaugural season in Major League Soccer, and fans of the club got a sneak peak of what their team’s home will look like.

United States:

2026 World Cup Host City Bids Submitted - Stars and Stripes FC
March 16, 2018 is a date that looms large in the future of American soccer. It isn’t because there is a crucial World Cup qualifier or exciting international friendly scheduled that day though. Rather, March of next year is when 2026 World Cup bids are due to FIFA.

ExtraTime Radio: Peter Vermes is happy in KC, but what if US came calling? | MLSsoccer.com
Is the sky falling for the US national team? Short answer ... no. Long answer ... don't look up. After a near catastrophic international break for Bruce Arena and the Americans, Andrew and Matt get together to break it all down. What's up with the stinkers against Costa Rica and Honduras? What can Arena do to right the ship? Why would anyone think missing the World Cup is the answer to the USMNT's current struggles?

World:

Manchester United transfer news: Sir Alex Ferguson passed on the chance to sign Zinedine Zidane to keep Eric Cantona happy | Goal.com
Zinedine Zidane at Manchester United? It could have happened, according to the club's former chairman Martin Edwards. The France legend made his mark in club football with the likes of Juventus and Real Madrid, winning two Serie A titles, La Liga and a Champions League crown.

Ivan Perisic signs Inter Milan contract extension after Man United interest - ESPN FC
Ivan Perisic has extended his contract with Inter Milan until 2022, further affirming his commitment to the Serie A club despite links with a move to Manchester United during the summer.

Jose Mourinho disappointed with Andreas Pereira decision to leave - ESPN FC
Jose Mourinho says he is "disappointed" Andreas Pereira has decided to leave Manchester United to join Valencia on loan. The Spanish side wrapped up a season-long deal for 21-year-old midfielder late on Friday night, nearly 24 hours after the English transfer window had closed.

Liverpool news: No Philippe Coutinho in squad to face Man City, Jurgen Klopp confirms | Goal.com
Philippe Coutinho has been left out of the Liverpool squad for Saturday's Premier League match at Manchester City, manager Jurgen Klopp has confirmed. Coutinho's future dominated the closing weeks of the transfer window after he handed in a request to force through a move to Barcelona, but Liverpool stood firm and rejected three bids for the Brazil playmaker – the last of which was understood to be worth in the region of £119m.