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Around The Forest: Alex Morgan Brace Leads U.S. To Victory Against Mexico

Also: Sounders’ Ozzie Alonso nearing full fitness, Red Bulls plan to rebound against Chivas, Atlanta United leaning on depth with only two center-backs and more!

Portland

The many transitions of Portland Timbers defender Larrys Mabiala | Portland Timbers
The two games that stand out from Larrys Mabiala’s first season in MLS are his pair of regular season meetings with Vancouver, two drastically different experiences that nearly bookended his initial 13 games in Major League Soccer.

Major League Soccer

Seattle Sounders midfielder Osvaldo Alonso nears full health, expects to return soon | Seattle Sounders FC
After an injury-plagued and disappointing start to 2018 for the Seattle Sounders, there is a glimmer hope on the horizon: Osvaldo Alonso is "ready to go." Alonso, the 32-year-old defensive cog in the Sounders' midfield, has battled a quad injury since last September. Outside of a 16-minute substitute appearance against the Vancouver Whitecaps in the MLS Cup Playoffs, Alonso has missed the past 14 competitive matches.

Red Bulls "ready to push" at home after "pretty even" CCL 1st leg at Chivas | MLSsoccer.com
The New York Red Bulls have little to no margin for error left after Wednesday’s 1-0 loss at Chivas Guadalajara in the first leg of their Concacaf Champions League semifinal series. But they retain ample hope of advancement, head coach Jesse Marsch said postgame.

Federico Higuain finds peace while playing at a high level for Crew SC | MLSsoccer.com
The Argentine is about to start his 150th MLS match for the club, and has already put himself in elite company by becoming one of the few MLS players to score and assist 50 goals each. He has the third-most goals in team history, the second-most assists and has a place on the all-time leaderboard for most other statistics.

Down two defenders, Atlanta United relying on depth & leadership vs. LAFC | MLSsoccer.com
Though it’s still early in the MLS season, it’s already become a time of trials for Atlanta United. The Five Stripes are battling multiple injuries and suspensions as the team approaches a pivotal moment in the season with a three-game stretch against Eastern Conference-leading New York City FC and the two red hot teams from LA.

Warshaw: LAFC midfield should learn a valuable lesson after loss | MLSsoccer.com
For every epic comeback, there is a team on the other side, a group of players who felt the brunt of a heartbreaking lost. While the LA Galaxy strung together four goals we will never forget, Los Angeles Football Club lost a three-goal lead. The attention around Zlatan Ibrahimovic has shielded LAFC from attention on the other side of the story, the capitulation.

LAFC looking ahead to Atlanta United, still working to be "complete deal" | MLSsoccer.com
After months of comparisons, two of the most recent three MLS expansion teams, LAFC and Atlanta United FC, will square off for the first time at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Saturday (5 pm ET | ESPN - full TV & streaming info). “I think it’s a great team,” LAFC forward Carlos Vela said after training earlier this week. “They play really good. They have young players, strong players, quick players.”

Sporting KC vow to be "alert" but not fazed by Zlatan, LA Galaxy | MLSsoccer.com
Sporting KC captain Matt Besler said it pumps his side up to see a player like Ibrahimovic on the opposite side of the field, when Sporting will face the LA Galaxy at StubHub Center on Sunday (9 pm ET | FS1 - Full TV & Streaming Info).

Boehm: A salute to the relentless, spotlight-averse, ego-free BWP | MLSsoccer.com
That phenomenon was at work in Guadalajara on Wednesday night, in the final minutes of the New York Red Bulls’ Concacaf Champions League semifinal first-leg match against Chivas. The Mexican giants had carved out a 1-0 lead and nearly twice as much possession as their MLS opponents, in a choppy, bruising affair whose tautness reflected the high stakes.

United States

Lowered Expectations: Week Five — American Soccer Analysis
Welcome to Lowered Expectations, the week five edition! Each week, we go about posting chalkboards and GIFs of the weekend’s five best open play shot attempts that did not quite live up to expectations. We’ll take each one and not only evaluate the results, but also the process that led to these chances.

Alex Morgan brace helps lift USA past Mexico 4-1 - Stars and Stripes FC
The United States came stampeding out of the gate as they opened up the first of two friendlies against Mexico. They got on the scoreboard in a rush, Mal Pugh scoring in the 6’ off an assist by Megan Rapinoe, who was herself fed a neat little ball by Alex Morgan. Morgan was clearly feeling it throughout the first half, dancing around the box in an effort to help break the defensive line.

Report: Boca Juniors sign U.S. U-17 World Cup midfielder - Stars and Stripes FC
According to TopDrawerSoccer.com’s Travis Clark, Boca Juniors have signed U.S. youth international George Acosta. Acosta, 18, is an attacking midfielder and represented the U.S. U-17 national team at the World Cup in India last year. In that tournament, he scored a goal in the team’s 3-1 loss to Colombia in the group stage.

World

Kevin De Bruyne Jose Mourinho relationship distant at Chelsea
Manchester City midfielder Kevin De Bruyne has said he barely spoke to Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho when the pair were together at Chelsea. De Bruyne, 26, can win his first Premier League title on Saturday with a victory in the Manchester derby against United.

EFL tells Accrington owner he must buy his players burgers even if they lose | Football | The Guardian
The Accrington owner Andy Holt has been told by the English Football League that he can continue to treat his players to post-match McDonald’s meals but only if he does so when they lose as well. Holt revealed his unusual incentive scheme via Twitter last month, prompting the league to check if the League Two club had declared it in their “bonus schedule” at the start of the season, as required under regulation 61.6.

Video shows moment Israeli sniper shoots Palestinian footballer in the knee, ending his career | The Independent
A Palestinian football player filmed the moment he appears to get shot in the knee, destroying the joint and his career. Mohammed Khalil, who played for a football club in the Gaza Strip, was apparently shot by an Israeli soldier as he protested near the border last week.