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Around the Forest: MLS announce first ever eMLS Cup

Also: Thorns open camp under chilly conditions, NYRB and Whitecaps looking to deal, CCL gets underway, USSF releases their financials and more!

Portland

Thorns FC Abroad | Emily Sonnett, Sydney FC fall in W-League Grand Final | Portland Timbers
Despite a hard-fought campaign by Thorns FC on-loan players Emily Sonnett and Caitlin Foord, Sydney FC's quest for their third club championship fell just short as back-to-back-champion Melbourne City completed their Westfield W-League Grand Final three-peat with a 2-0 victory over the Sky Blues. With Foord sidelined on an injury, Sonnett marked the sole Portland player on the pitch, earning her third-straight start at center back and playing the duration of the match.

Thorns embrace cold open to 2018 preseason | Portland Timbers
After a Sunday of snow throughout Portland, Providence Park’s field looked more like an ice skating rink than a soccer field, something that would be a major issue for the first day of a normal Portland Thorns FC preseason. But with construction on the team’s home venue in progress, the reigning NWSL Champions began their 2018 preparations at Beaverton’s adidas Timbers Training Center, braving near-freezing temperatures for their first session of the preseason.

Major League Soccer

Warshaw: Whom would you invite to your dream MLS dinner party? | MLSsoccer.com
For Christmas this year, my mom bought me a cookbook. I tried to explain to her that the world doesn’t need cookbooks anymore since we have Google, but she looked at me in disgust, so I smiled and said, "Thank you" and now I have this oversized cookbook in my kitchen.

Rumor: Are Red Bulls, Whitecaps discussing a Felipe-for-Tim-Parker swap? | MLSsoccer.com
The Washington Post’s Steve Goff reported earlier that the New York Red Bulls and Vancouver Whitecaps FC are indeed in trade talks, before adding that it’s just a rumor at this point that the Red Bulls’ Felipe and Vancouver’s Parker are the players involved.

Armchair Analyst: Once more for Seattle | #MLSIsBack in 10 Days | MLSsoccer.com
Yes, Sounders fans were pretty bummed after losing the 2017 MLS Cup to Toronto FC. It was 2-0 and truth be told, it was never close to being a real contest – the Reds dominated from stem to stern. I don't think I've seen a more complete victory in MLS Cup.

See which teams have signed gamers to compete in 2018 eMLS Cup | MLSsoccer.com
Toronto FC joined the growing list of MLS clubs to join the burgeoning gaming space, signing Phil Balke as the club's first eMLS athlete on Feb. 13. Balke will represent TFC in the recently announced EA Sports FIFA 18 gaming league, eMLS, and in FIFA tournaments around the world.

Major League Soccer announces details for first eMLS Cup tournament | MLSsoccer.com
After the announcement last month of eMLS, a new competitive EA Sports FIFA 18 league featuring the best 19 FIFA players from the US and Canada, we now know more details about its championship event.

Sporting KC signs free agent midfielder and two-time MLS Cup champion Brad Evans | Sporting Kansas City
Sporting Kansas City has signed free agent defender/midfielder and two-time MLS Cup champion Brad Evans, the club announced on Tuesday. Evans has been added to the Sporting KC roster, signing a one-year contract with an option for 2019.

Report: Philadelphia Union negotiating with Czech playmaker Borek Dockal | MLSsoccer.com
On Tuesday, the agency representing Czech midfielder Borek Dockal revealed that the player has flown with his representatives to America to negotiate a possible deal with Philly. Union beat writer Jonathan Tannenwald added that Dockal would be the “big playmaker target” that has been on the Union’s wish list since the 2017 season ended.

Armchair Analyst: Impact aim to reboot with youth | #MLSIsBack in 11 Days | MLSsoccer.com
The Montreal Impact have pretty consistently fielded the oldest team in the league throughout their MLS existence. Whether it was the likes of Didier Drogba or Marco Di Vaio up top, or Alessandro Nesta or Laurent Ciman at the back, if you were old then the Impact almost certainly had a contract and some playing time for you.

Miracle at the Big O: MLS's most memorable CCL goal | MLSsoccer.com
In Spring 2015, the Montreal Impact set out to make history (Marquons l'Histoire!) and become the first MLS team to win the CONCACAF Champions League since the competition replaced the Champions' Cup in 2008. In the quarterfinal round, Montreal faced off against a star-studded Pachuca team featuring Hirving Lozano, Erick Gutierrez and Jurgen Damm.

Boehm: Toronto FC are MLS’s best CCL hope in years… but Tigres await | MLSsoccer.com
Sure, the regular season doesn’t kick off until next month and only five of the league’s teams are involved in the CONCACAF Champions League (CCL) action that begins this week. But just like your favorite indie band gone mainstream, sometimes it’s more fun to hop on the train early. And a Round of 16 first leg curtain-raiser on a profoundly soul-chilling February night in Commerce City, Colorado counts as the North American soccer equivalent of catching Radiohead at a dive bar in 1992. So pat yourself on the back, you early adopter.

United States

U.S. Soccer releases 2017 financial information - Stars and Stripes FC
U.S. Soccer released their annual form 990 on February 20th, over 320 days after the end of their fiscal year. The federation’s fiscal year ends March 31st which means that the tax filing is normally due on August 15th, but multiple extensions were requested resulting in a delivery date of February 15th. Coincidentally or not, that’s five days after the U.S. Soccer presidential election occurred in Orlando.

Black History Month: Run-DMB - Stars and Stripes FC
When you think about the best players to ever patrol the left side of the field for the United States, one name that’s going to come up is DaMarcus Beasley. Born in Fort Wayne, Indiana, Beasley hit the scene when he was 16 years old, signing with the LA Galaxy before getting quickly traded to the Chicago Fire in 1999. His career took off with the Fire, where he scored 14 goals on the left wing and provided the offensive pizzazz that many American fans were looking for.

World

Barcelona's €150m experiment - why Valverde does not trust Ousmane Dembele yet | Goal.com
Ousmane Dembele has endured a nightmare start to his Barcelona career. The French international, signed after Neymar's sale to Paris Saint-Germain in a €105 million move from Borussia Dortmund which could rise to €150m with add-ons, simply cannot catch a break.

Nantes will not stand in Ranieri's way if manager is offered Italy job | Goal.com
Nantes would allow Claudio Ranieri to follow his dream and speak to Italy regarding the vacant manager's job, should the Azzurri come calling. Gian Piero Ventura was sacked in November after the 1-0 play-off loss to Sweden meant the four-time World Cup winners failed to qualify for the finals for the first time since 1958

Sevilla star Pablo Sarabia has a point to prove vs. old boss Jose Mourinho
When Sevilla play Manchester United in the Champions League last-16 fixture Wednesday night, the Andalusians' star Pablo Sarabia will not only meet the side that considered signing him twice in the past. He is also about to face the coach who put an end to his most sacred dream.