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Around The Forest: Fernando Torres To MLS?

Also: Thorns get ready for home opener, Minnesota United sign another DP, Are Toronto FC favorites to win the CCL and more!

Portland

"Better start clearing more space:" Thorns already forcing Providence Park to make room for their honors | Portland Timbers
Amid the week’s preparations that go into readying Providence Park for dueling home openers – from stocking concessions, to pressure washing sections, to rehearsing all the pre-, in-, and post-match routines – comes a subtle task few would have thought of, one born of the success Thorns FC have enjoyed in their first five seasons.

Major League Soccer

The growth of MLS in the UK, and why British football fans are turning to America — Total MLS
Major League Soccer in the U.S. is making waves with every passing season. League attendance continues to rise, TV viewership numbers are increasing, and clubs are attracting better and younger players who want to develop their game in the States. But unbeknownst to most American MLS fans, a movement is brewing across the pond in the UK, the birthplace of the sport and an island that is starting to open up to America’s top flight soccer league.

Minnesota United sign versatile Peruvian midfielder/defender Alexi Gomez | MLSsoccer.com
Minnesota United FC has signed Peruvian international Alexi Gomez on season-long loan from Club Universitario de Deportes with an option to buy, the club announced Wednesday morning. The versatile 25-year-old midfielder/defender will join the Loons pending receipt of his P1 Visa and ITC and will occupy an international spot on the Minnesota roster.

Fernando Torres: MLS interest lukewarm among GMs - INSIDER | SI.com
Fernando Torres announced on Monday he’s leaving Atlético Madrid when his contract concludes at the end of this season, and the 34-year-old said he wants to play at least two more seasons. But when I called around MLS, the interest in signing Torres—even on a free transfer—was decidedly lukewarm.

Future LAFC MF Andre Horta voted Portuguese league's midfielder of month | MLSsoccer.com
Andre Horta is playing like a man energized by his upcoming move to Major League Soccer. The future Designated Player and midfielder for LAFC was named as the midfielder of the month for March in Liga Portugal on Wednesday morning.

LA Galaxy sign Ola Kamara to three-year extension | MLSsoccer.com
On Wednesday, the club announced Kamara, who arrived in Los Angeles after an offseason trade with Columbus Crew SC, signed a three-year contract extension with the LA Galaxy. The deal was first reported by ESPN FC on Saturday.

Wiebe: In new role for MLS, Toronto FC are clear CCL favorites | MLSsoccer.com
Toronto FC didn’t sneak past Tigres and Club America on the way to the Concacaf Champions League final. They didn’t become first club in the history of this league to knock off two Liga MX opponents in the same tournament by the skin of their teeth. No, in both cases, the Reds were the better team over two legs: Better tactically. Better technically. Better coached.

Colorado's Shkelzen Gashi available for first time this season vs. Toronto | MLSsoccer.com
Embattled with injury, Designated Player forward Shkelzen Gashi has yet to make a competitive appearance for the Colorado Rapids in 2018. That could all change soon. The Swiss-Albanian has participated fully in team activities over the past week and is available for this weekend’s match against Toronto FC.

Injury scare for Atlanta United's Josef Martinez | MLSsoccer.com
It’s one of the juiciest matchups of the early Major League Soccer season with New York City FC heading to Mercedes-Benz Stadium to meet Atlanta United on Sunday (6 pm ET | FS1) in what should be a high-flying showdown of attacking powerhouses.

David Villa returns, but NYCFC flex their attacking depth in rout of RSL | MLSsoccer.com
The book on New York City FC in the first three years of their existence was pretty simple. While there were players battling for spots in virtually every position on the field, David Villa was the striker. He was the one scoring the goals. And when the Spanish legend wasn’t on the field? Good luck.

Injury scare for Atlanta United's Josef Martinez | MLSsoccer.com
It’s one of the juiciest matchups of the early Major League Soccer season with New York City FC heading to Mercedes-Benz Stadium to meet Atlanta United on Sunday (6 pm ET | FS1) in what should be a high-flying showdown of attacking powerhouses.

NWSL

Ambition, independence, or both? NWSL owners talk future fears and hopes | FourFourTwo
The 2018 National Women’s Soccer League season arrived amid a number of warning signs for the league’s independent clubs – the four remaining organizations with no ties to Major League Soccer or United Soccer League organizations.

United States

FIFA wraps tour of Atlanta as possible host city for 2026 World Cup
The committee toured Mercedes-Benz Stadium, one of the proposed venues for the joint bid from the United States, Canada and Mexico. The $1.6 billion, retractable-roof facility opened last year and hosted the largest single-game crowd in Major League Soccer history when 71,874 fans turned out for Atlanta United's final match of 2017 against Toronto FC.

International Champions Cup Will Add Women’s Event This Summer - The New York Times
The International Champions Cup, the five-year-old soccer showcase that has become the most high-profile summer tournament in the world, is adding something new this year: a women’s competition.

World

Gianluigi Buffon's legacy not tarnished by Madrid meltdown, his response was understandable
Gianluigi Buffon anticipated it might be like this. Musing about the end of his career while on international duty last March, he smiled and said: "Maybe I'll go out like [Zinedine] Zidane, giving someone a headbutt."

Real Madrid's Sergio Ramos may face another UEFA ban for entering tunnel
Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos could miss the first leg of the Champions League semifinal if found guilty of breaching UEFA rules after watching the final minutes of his team's game against Juventus on Wednesday from the tunnel while serving a one-match ban.

Premier League clubs unlikely to approve use of VAR for next season
The implementation of the video assistant referee system (VAR) in the Premier League next season appears unlikely as a number of clubs are reluctant to ratify its use at a shareholders meeting on Friday.