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Around the Forest: NYCFC Reaching New Heights In Unbeaten Run

Also: Thorns need that finishing touch, the LA derby is officially sold out, no Christian Pulisic, Pogba can’t be happy at United, 19 years and counting for Nick Rimando and more!

Portland

Preseason closes with Thorns FC searching for finishing touch | Portland Timbers
“Just missing a couple of goals,” Thorns FC Mark Parsons said, when asked about where his team was at the end of preseason, relative to his expectations. His team had just drawn, 0-0 with the Houston Dash to close its preseason, a performance that showed marked improvement in more levels of the field. The defense and midfield were noticeable better than three days earlier, with Portland drew, 2-2, with a United States Under-23 squad.

Major League Soccer

19 years in, Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando shows he's still got it | MLSsoccer.com
Watching Nick Rimando keep a clean sheet against the New York Red Bulls on Saturday reminded everyone of two things: how great Rimando is and that he can’t play forever. Real Salt Lake center back Justen Glad started taking goal kicks in the first half after Rimando felt some sensitivity in his adductor. That didn’t limit his shot stopping ability though, as Rimando made four big saves – two of the spectacular variety – to keep a clean sheet in a 1-0 victory at Rio Tinto Stadium.

LA Galaxy announce first clash vs. LAFC on March 31 is sold out | MLSsoccer.com
The first edition of the new Los Angeles rivalry in MLS takes place at the end of this month, and it's going to be a full house. The LA Galaxy announced on Monday the game, to be hosted at StubHub Center against expansion side LAFC on March 31 (3 pm ET | FOX, FOX Deportes), is officially sold out

Counting down the best plays from Week 3 of the 2018 season | Top 10 Plays | MLSsoccer.com
Bobby Warshaw counts down the top 10 plays from Week 3 of the 2018 MLS season.

The Nominees Are ...
We are pleased to present the nominees for the 11th annual Sports Business Awards, which recognizes excellence over the past year. Please join us for a red carpet ceremony and awards gala on May 23 at the New York Marriott Marquis at Times Square.

How Nicolás Lodeiro’s injury absence is affecting the Seattle Sounders | Seattle Sounders FC
The Seattle Sounders have been decimated with injuries to start the 2018 Major League Soccer season. Regular starters Jordan Morris (torn ACL), Will Bruin (concussion), Víctor Rodríguez (knee sprain), Ozzie Alonso (quad strain) and Kelvin Leerdam (ankle sprain) have all missed time, with Rodríguez and Alonso yet to factor and Leerdam making his season debut last week at Chivas.

Chicago Fire's Matt Polster expected to miss 5-6 weeks due to knee sprain | MLSsoccer.com
The Chicago Fire announced on Monday that defender Matt Polster suffered a Grade 2 right MCL sprain during training on March 16. Polster is expected to be out of action for five to six weeks.

Orlando City captain Jonathan Spector enters MLS concussion protocol
Spector knocked heads with NYCFC defender Maxime Chanot trying to win the ball off a corner kick in the 16th minute of of the Lions’ 2-0 loss Saturday afternoon to the Pigeons in Yankee Stadium. Spector left the pitch briefly — Chanot didn’t — but came back on and finished the half. Center back Lamine Sané came on in the second half in place of Spector.

Team of the Week presented by Audi: FC Dallas' Lamah paces pack in Week 3 | MLSsoccer.com
Among the strong defensive performances were those from Real Salt Lake, which posted their first shutout of the season, and the scoreless draw between Philadelphia Union and Columbus Crew SC. But the biggest result was probably from the Montreal Impact, which had three of the XI on the Team of the Week, along with one on the bench, after a 1-0 win over Toronto FC.

Toronto FC "not happy" with MLS form, but pragmatic about CCL hangover | MLSsoccer.com
Four days after winning their CCL quarterfinal series vs. Tigres UANL in Monterrey, the reigning Supporters’ Shield and MLS Cup champions lost their second league game in a row on Saturday, a 1-0 loss to the Montreal Impact.

Warshaw: Vieira has New York City FC reaching new levels in unbeaten start | MLSsoccer.com
It shouldn’t surprise anyone to see New York City FC at the top of the standings after three weeks. The blue side of New York finished 2nd in the 2017 Supporters Shield standings and added new talent at multiple positions. It’s still early, and though main rival Toronto FC is currently prioritizing Concacaf Champions League, NYCFC has looked consistently excellent through all three games. Yet this isn’t just a good team improving at the margins.

United States

Why parity in MLS makes American soccer so compelling - Burgundy Wave
While it’s easy for many to deride Major League Soccer (MLS) as a ‘retirement league’ (although that’s changing) for its lack of a promotion/relegation system or over the talent from top-to-bottom of club rosters, one thing that MLS has over other top world leagues is parity. And parity leads to competitiveness, thanks to drafts, salary caps, and a certain allotment for designated and international spots, among other reasons.

USMNT: Why Pulisic absence is not a bad thing | Goal.com
The purgatory that is life without a World Cup berth continues to be the reality for U.S. national team fans, who are left to subsist on the glimpses of hope provided by younger and younger rosters being called up for largely meaningless friendlies.

Which leagues should more Americans consider for their playing career? - Stars and Stripes FC
As the United States Men’s National Team undergoes a makeover in its player pool, fans are beginning to consume more information about youth players from MLS to the third division in Germany. And when talented youth players are coming up through the ranks, the debate over the league they should move to cultivate and develop their talent is a contentious one.

World

Real Madrid transfers: Who should the Blancos sell this summer? | Goal.com
Real Madrid's squad is in need of some renewal. Although Los Blancos claimed a double of La Liga and the Champions League last season, they have struggled to keep up that intensity this season and changes lie ahead at the end of the current campaign.

Mohamed Salah determined to set example for all of Egypt
Salah, who had stints at Fiorentina, Chelsea and FC Basel before his time with the Giallorossi, says that it has been a hard road to get to the upper echelon of world football -- and hopes he can be the first of many Egyptians to make the journey.

Paul Pogba 'cannot be happy' with his situation at Manchester United - Didier Deschamps
The 25-year-old midfielder, who has been called up by Deschamps for France's upcoming friendlies against Colombia and Russia, has missed several important games for United in recent weeks.

Cristiano Ronaldo named Portugal's Player of the Year Jose Mourinho awarded
Cristiano Ronaldo recalled an "unforgettable" 2017 while also having a word for his critics as he received the Portugal FA's Player of the Year award, while Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho received an ambassadorial award at the same event in Lisbon.