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Around the Forest: Ashleigh Sykes pens letter to Thorns fans

Also: Bocanegra pulls name for consideration, Russell on signing with SKC, Barco is setting in at ATLUD and more!


A letter to Thorns FC fans from Ashleigh Sykes | Portland Timbers
Joining the club in June 2017, Sykes appeared in 15 matches (13 starts) during the regular season, and started in both 2017 NWSL playoff matches as she helped Thorns FC win the 2017 NWSL Championship. She made her NWSL debut on June 17 and scored her first goal for the club against the Chicago Red Stars on Sept. 30.

Tobin Heath, Lindsey Horan, Christine Sinclair, Emily Sonnett return to Thorns FC as Federation Players | Portland Timbers
The National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) today announced the official list of allocated players for the 2018 NWSL season, which includes midfielders Lindsey Horan and Tobin Heath, forward Christine Sinclair and defender Emily Sonnett, who all will be participating as Federation Players with Portland Thorns FC for the 2018 season.

Major League Soccer

Armchair Analyst: Why Kei fits in with 'Caps | #MLSIsBack in 15 Days |
With all due respect to Brian McBride, the single best season any MLS forward has ever had in the air came in 2015 and it happened in McBride's old stomping ground of central Ohio. Kei Kamara rose up and put defender after defender down on the ground en route to 22 goals, eight via headers. He was damn near unstoppable, and if it wasn't for Sebastian Giovinco's incandescent season, would have won MLS MVP.

Sources: Carlos Bocanegra pulls name from consideration from U.S. GM role |
U.S. Soccer's search for a general manager to oversee the men's national team is underway and while Carlos Bocanegra will be involved with the process, he will not be the man to fill the newly-created role.

Johnny Russell on signing with Sporting KC | The Kansas City Star
More than 3,000 miles from the United States, Johnny Russell frequently sat inside his home and flipped on the TV. During the weekends, he found himself settling on channels showing American sports, particularly Major League Soccer. He had never lived in the U.S. — only visited a handful of times even — but there was a certain appeal to it.

The Rapids called out their star scorer. So Shkëlzen Gashi shot back by rededicating himself. – The Denver Post
Shkëlzen Gashi strode into Casa Grande, Ariz., last month like the sheriff in an old Western movie, ready for heads to turn. The Rapids’ once and, he hopes, future scoring star wanted to make his presence felt.

Stejskal: Despite ending holdout, Lee Nguyen still wants out of New England |
The impasse between Lee Nguyen and the New England Revolution remains on. Nguyen ended his training camp holdout last week, but sources have told that the veteran attacker still wants to be traded by New England.

Armchair Analyst: In 2018, CJ Sapong needs help | #MLSIsBack in 16 Days |
CJ Sapong finally had the season I'd been waiting for from him in 2017. He was excellent pretty much all year for the Philadelphia Union, deservedly earning his way into a couple of US national team camps and putting down a marker for the rest of the MLS-based US striker pool to look up at:

As Barco settles in with Atlanta United, he gives back to former club |
There’s no question anticipation levels are extremely high for Atlanta United FC and their record signing– a jam-packed press conference room reflected on Thursday that but so did a sold-out open training session put on by the club at their training ground.

United States

Report: Carlos Bocanegra withdraws name from U.S. Soccer GM role - Dirty South Soccer
Atlanta United Vice President Carlos Bocanegra has informed the United States Soccer Federation that he is not interested in taking the role of general manager at this time, according to a report from by Ives Galarcep.

Black History Month: Desmond Armstrong discusses his Hall of Fame career - Stars and Stripes FC
When Desmond Armstrong broke onto the scene with the United States Men’s National Team in 1987, he was one of two African-Americans on the team. He didn’t have a conventional career path, but his willingness to take risks with his career and succeed was a big part of why he is immortalized in the National Soccer Hall of Fame.


U.S. attacker Johannsson: I never gave up hope at Werder Bremen
After making a dramatic return to Werder Bremen's starting lineup, United States international Aron Johannsson hailed coach Florian Kohfeldt for giving him another opportunity.

AllegedRacist abuse of Mario Balotelli against Dijon to be investigated by LFP
The French Football League (LFP) has opened a formal investigation into alleged racist abuse aimed at Mario Balotelli last weekend with the final report to be published in mid-March.

West Brom: Four players involved in 'incident' during training trip
A report in The Sun on Friday said the four players allegedly absconded with a taxi to return to their hotel in Barcelona, then left the car at a nearby McDonald's. The players were questioned by police but no one was arrested, according to the tabloid.