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Around the Forest: New Coach, New Identity, Timbers Ready for 2018

Also: how to watch out of market matches for free, Alonso nearing return for Seattle, OCSC looking in the short term, former USMNT player Charlie Davies retires and more!

Portland

Quick Strikes | Timbers kick off 2018 campaign against Galaxy | Portland Timbers
With new head coach Giovanni Savarese at the helm, the Portland Timbers will kick off the 2018 MLS season facing the LA Galaxy at the Stubhub Center (7pm PT, FS1). Here are five numbers to know for #LAvPOR in a special First Kick edition of Quick Strikes.

With new coach and identity, Portland Timbers prepare to open 2018 MLS season | OregonLive.com
The Portland Timbers will have a new coach yelling commands from the sideline for the first time in five years when they open their 2018 MLS campaign Sunday. After a successful tenure as the manager of the New York Cosmos, Giovanni Savarese is finally set to make his MLS coaching debut as he leads the Timbers against the LA Galaxy.

Major League Soccer

How to watch out-of-market MLS matches in 2018 | MLSsoccer.com
MLS kicks off its 23rd season on Saturday. After one of the wildest and most unpredictable offseasons in league history, you won't want to miss a minute of the action. In addition to matches on national TV and local TV broadcasts, you can watch out-of-market matches via cable, satellite and streaming.

CONCACAF unveils 2018 Champions League quarterfinals schedule | MLSsoccer.com
The field is set for the quarterfinals of the 2018 CONCACAF Champions League. Three MLS teams have advanced: New York Red Bulls, Toronto FC and the Seattle Sounders.

Armchair Analyst: Systemic solution in Columbus | #MLSIsBack in 1 Day | MLSsoccer.com
There are lots of stories around Columbus Crew SC, but here's the one I'm focused on: They're an offensively-inclined team who just traded their two best goalscorers this offseason. Justin Meram was sent out for a king's ransom of GAM and TAM, while Ola Kamara was sent out for Gyasi Zardes and an, I don't know, like an earl's ransom of GAM and TAM.

Minnesota United looks to better defense in late 2017 as springboard for 2018 – Twin Cities
The Loons had given up a record-tying 69 goals and needed to survive five minutes of extra time against San Jose in the regular season finale to avoid the league’s mark for most goals conceded in a season. Then Earthquakes’ Marco Urena tapped in a goal after Minnesota’s defense got twisted.

Philadelphia Union's Borek Dockal ready to be playmaker, star as he begins life in America - Philly
Now the sport’s most hallowed number is set to be his with the Union. And as he spoke to the Inquirer and Daily News on Thursday, the Czech Republic native left no doubt that he knows what he’s getting into.

Rebuilt Orlando City SC look to keep focus on the very short term | MLSsoccer.com
“We need to be focused in all of the details that need to happen on a day-to-day basis and let the end results be there," Orlando head coach Jason Kreis said after Wednesday’s training. "We know it’s there, but we don’t need to be talking about it every single day.

Dynamo’s Wilmer Cabrera not distracted by MLS’ high-spending clubs - Houston Chronicle
Dynamo coach Wilmer Cabrera rarely shies away from an opportunity to discuss the massive spending gaps among MLS teams. Cabrera knows his team had the smallest payroll in the league last year. It could have the lowest this year, too.

FC Dallas positive on new 3-5-2 system despite agony of untimely CCL exit | MLSsoccer.com
FC Dallas have implemented a new look through the 2018 preseason, rolling out a 3-5-2 formation. Oscar Pareja's new system didn’t exactly shine in its competitive debut, Dallas' stinging exit from the CONCACAF Champions League on Wednesday night, but hopes remain high as the team adapts to the change.

Osvaldo Alonso injury update: MF thinks he’ll be back in late March - Sounder At Heart
Osvaldo Alonso won’t be ready for this week’s games, but he may not be all that far away from making his return. Talking to the press during Seattle Sounders media day on Wednesday, Alonso said he’s feeling better and thinks he might be back in about a month.

Report: Columbus Crew SC linked with Ecuadoran forward Adolfo Muñoz - Massive Report
Columbus Crew SC’s newest offensive addition could be coming from South America as Ecuadoran website Imperio Futbol EC revealed the Black & Gold is negotiating with forward Adolfo Muñoz, who currently plays for El Nacional.

United States

USA vs Germany, SheBelieves Cup: What We Learned - Stars and Stripes FC
The wind, the cold, the snow and freezing rain, all combined to make for a truly uphill climb as the USWNT fought to start the SheBelieves Cup right. Add to that a strong German side who showed up to play and not accept a bad result, and the resulting 90 minutes made for one of the tougher contests for the Americans in any competition.

Former USMNT striker Charlie Davies retires - Stars and Stripes FC
Former United States men’s national team striker Charlie Davies has officially announced his retirement from professional soccer. The 31-year-old broke the news Friday morning via a video released on his Twitter account. Watch his farewell words to his playing career here:

New York Cosmos owner hits out at U.S. Soccer amid NASL troubles
New York Cosmos owner Rocco Commisso says he and the NASL are "full ahead litigating" the pending lawsuits against the U.S. Soccer Federation and its board members, despite recent legal setbacks and the fact that the league has canceled the 2018 season.

World

Tale of two handballs for Barcelona lets Atletico back into La Liga title race | Goal.com
Ernesto Valverde's side were held to a 1-1 draw by lowly Las Palmas on Thursday night and even though they remain unbeaten in La Liga, their lead at the top of the table has now been cut to five points.

Chelsea must admire 'unstoppable' Manchester City - Antonio Conte
Antonio Conte said that Chelsea must have "great admiration" for what Manchester City are doing this season, adding that Pep Guardiola's team appear "unstoppable" on current form.

Ousmane Dembele turned down Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain to join Barcelona
Ousmane Dembele has told Onze Mondial that he had turned down approaches from both Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain before joining Barcelona last summer. Dembele defended the behaviour that forced his move from Borussia Dortmund after he went on strike, refusing to train unless the club allowed him to move.