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Around the Forest: Cobi Jones and sparking a generation

Also: Kellyn Acosta out for 6-8 weeks, the Loons sign a defensive midfielder, take a look at the top 30 midfielders going into the fantasy season and more!

Portland

Portland Timbers 2018 Season Preview — Total MLS
Portland finished top of the Western Conference in 2017 but their playoff run ended with a shocking home defeat. With a new coach in the fold, the Timbers will rely on their strong roster to build on their regular season showing of last season.

Major League Soccer

Minnesota United land Brazilian defensive midfielder Luiz Fernando on loan | MLSsoccer.com
Minnesota United announced Thursday it has signed defensive midfielder Luiz Fernando on loan from Brazil's Fluminense FC with an option to buy after the 2018 season. He will occupy an international spot on Minnesota’s roster.

FC Dallas midfielder Kellyn Acosta sidelined 6-to-8 weeks | MLSsoccer.com
FC Dallas started their 2018 campaign on Wednesday night, losing 1-0 at Tauro FC in the CONCACAF Champions League, without the services of midfielder Kellyn Acosta and it appears that they will be missing him for a significant amount of time.

Black History Month: How Cobi Jones sparked a generation to get in the game | MLSsoccer.com
Cobi Jones is not soccer's Jackie Robinson. He wasn't the first African-American to take to an American pro soccer field, not by a stretch. Nor was he the first Black player to make a significant impact on the field for the U.S. national team. (Joe Gaetjens, we see you!)

Despite typical challenges, MLS has found some CCL success in El Salvador | MLSsoccer.com
There's no such thing as an easy away day in the CONCACAF Champions League That said, El Salvador has been a more hospitable destination than most for visiting MLS teams over the history of the competition since it launched in the fall of 2008.

Vancouver Whitecaps sign free agent right back Sean Franklin to 1-year deal | MLSsoccer.com
The Vancouver Whitecaps announced the signing of free agent right back Sean Franklin to a one-year contract Thursday, officially securing a 10-year MLS veteran who has been with the team since the second week of training camp.

Fantasy: The Top 30 midfielders for 2018 | MLSsoccer.com
In the spirit of full disclosure, let me just say that I love midfielders in the MLS Fantasy game! I love their raw point production, bonus point-generating ability, and they have some of the best potential for scoring above their price point. If you’re a new player, I think this position will help you see the best return on your money in the early game. Just remember that all midfielders are not created equal (cough, D-mids).

Warshaw: What I think, fear and want for MLS in 2018 | MLSsoccer.com
MLS is back in two weeks – it’s time to make some predictions. I’m not brave enough to pick standings (Portland fans made sure of that), so let's try to ID some trends we could see in 2018. Soccer reflects life, and life reflects soccer, so sometimes it’s best to break it down to the most basic human functions.

Five key takeaways from CCL openers for Sounders, Red Bulls | MLSsoccer.com
The final two MLS teams involved in the 2018 CONCACAF Champions League jumped into the fray on Thursday, as the New York Red Bulls played Honduran side Olimpia to a 1-1 road draw and the Seattle Sounders fell 2-1 to Santa Tecla in El Salvador.

United States

MLS and young domestic players: Will anything change in 2018? | US Soccer Players
A war is quietly raging inside Major League Soccer. It's one that could have an enormous effect on the USMNT in both the short and long terms. On one side stands a band of clubs and executives who remain cognizant of the league’s founding principle of featuring and improving homegrown talent for the benefit of US soccer as a whole. They're proudly preaching the “play your kids” gospel for both club and country.

Black History Month: Howard finds historic redemption - Stars and Stripes FC
The Howard Bison were in the 1971 NCAA Men’s Soccer Championship game on December 30, 1971 at the Miami Orange Bowl. Standing between them and the national championship were the Saint Louis Billikens, who were in the midst of a run that has been unrivaled in college men’s soccer: 10 national championships and 3 second place finishes in 16 years. Howard had made the semifinals in 1970 but came up short, and this was an opportunity for them to break through and make history.

World

Arsenal drawn AC Milan in Europa League round of 16 Borussia Dortmund take on Salzburg
Arsenal have been drawn to face Italian side AC Milan in the Europa League round of 16. The Gunners suffered the embarrassment of losing 2-1 at home to Swedish side Ostersunds in the second leg of their first knockout round match on Thursday night, but progressed 4-2 on aggregate.

Borussia Dortmund condemn alleged racist chants towards Michy Batshuayi
Borussia Dortmund have condemned alleged racist chants from Atalanta fans as "completely unacceptable" after Michy Batshuayi claimed he was subjected to them during Thursday's Europa League clash.

Pogba being treated like a bouncer by single-minded Mourinho | Goal.com
Jose Mourinho gave the BT Sport reporter Des Kelly a hug in his Champions League post-match interview on Wednesday. Why? Des asked him about Scott McTominay, who started against Sevilla, rather than Paul Pogba, who didn't. It gave Mourinho the opportunity to wax lyrical about all the things the young midfielder could do while at the same time hinting at the things Pogba could not.