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Around the Forest: Andres Iniesta to be awarded highest Spanish Honor in Sport

Also: Liverpool wins Champions League(?), Lee Nguyen ready to rock in LA, NYCFC opens training center and more!


"The biggest thing I’ve done:" Fanendo Adi's dream came true with Benue church | Portland Timbers
He remembers being nine years old when he first prayed about it. Maybe he was eight, he says. It’s hard to remember the promises you make to yourself when you’re a child. This offseason, though, those promises finally came good. When Portland Timbers forward Fanendo Adi returned to Nigeria this winter, he finally opened the church he had always dreamed of.

Major League Soccer

Toronto FC's Tosaint Ricketts excited by Canadian Premier League
The Canadian striker toured European football’s less-heralded leagues for seven years before returning to his home country to join Toronto FC, rarely spending more than a single year at one club.

LA Galaxy hopeful they've found most effective role for Giovani dos Santos |
Giovani dos Santos might be among the more misunderstood players in MLS, and a lot of that has to do with the role he's been asked to fill for the LA Galaxy and how that balances, or doesn't balance, with his best qualities.

Atlanta United's "fearsome foursome" may be unleashed vs. Chicago |
Last Saturday, Atlanta United fans got a small taste of an incredibly tantalizing prospect — all of the club's vaunted attacking players on the field at the same time. Even dating back to last season, when Yamil Asad (now with D.C. United) slotted in Ezequiel Barco's current spot on the wing,

Lee Nguyen "happy," "ready to go" with LAFC, could debut Saturday |
Late Tuesday night, moments before the MLS primary transfer window slid shut, Lee Nguyen received a phone call. “I had the phone and my girlfriend was next to me,” Nguyen said. “All she could hear was LAFC.” When the call was over, the jumping and smiling began.

For NYCFC fans, latest New York Derby clash might be most anticipated yet |
“This is the most exciting Hudson River Derby game since the opener,” said Jordan Griffith, a founding season ticket holder and host of the New York City Football Podcast. “NYCFC is still the David Villa show, but in years past, the Red Bulls had more evenly distributed and, frankly, better overall teams. With depth at almost every position, the 2018 squad is the most complete team in NYCFC’s history.”

Unheralded Wilfried Zahibo leading New England Revolution's renaissance |
As far as introductions go, Wilfried Zahibo’s was over practically before it began. Signed by the New England Revolution in the offseason to alleviate the losses of Gershon Koffie and Xavier Kouassi, the French midfielder burst into the fray with excitement. Perhaps too much. It was Feb. 14, the Revs’ first preseason match of the Mobile Mini Sun Cup, and Zahibo scythed down FC Dallas midfielder Carlos Gruezo, receiving a straight red card eight minutes in.

Tangled up in blue: NYC FC's brand new training center stresses City connection | Football | The Guardian
There was no doubt which was the more celebrated one – LAFC’s Banc of California Stadium is a transformative addition to one of the top two media markets in the country, and with its dramatic framing of downtown LA, and the fashionably steep rake and standing areas, it adds to the burgeoning narrative of glamorous MLS expansion that the league office is keen to promote.

Wiebe: It only seems like the sky is falling in Seattle |
The sky is falling in Seattle, or so certain segments of Sounders supporters might have you believe. On Sunday, ahead of the inaugural match at LAFC’s Banc of California Stadium, Sounders general manager and president of soccer Garth Lagerwey uttered the dreaded E-word while discussing the changing tides in Major League Soccer and the level of investment required to compete in 2018. Rave Green alarm bells began ringing.

United States

Hurley’s Team USA collection for men (and only men) - Stars and Stripes FC
Some weeks ago, a representative for Hurley contacted both me and my site co-manager Donald and asked us if we’d like a free pair of patriotically designed Team USA shorts. Hurley, Nike’s surf arm, has made a World Cup national team collection for 2018 and in a gesture that reads as optimistically kind or depressingly capitalistic, they included the United States “with respect to their massive contribution to the culture and sport.” Donald and I were not about to turn down free shorts in this economy, so we both said yes, and about 10 days later we got our shorts.


Barcelona's Andres Iniesta to be awarded highest honour in Spanish sport
Andres Iniesta will be awarded the Grand Cross of the Royal Order of Sports Merit, the highest honour in Spanish sport. The award recognises "distinguished service in sports" and has previously been given to former Spain internationals Iker Casillas and Xavi Hernandez.

Rangers' Steven Gerrard: Experience 'not an issue' in first managerial role
Rangers appointed Steven Gerrard to his first senior management job on Friday, but the Liverpool legend is confident his lack of first-team managerial experience will not be an issue with the Scottish giants.

Bizarre leak on UEFA website says Liverpool have won the Champions League - Rousing the Kop
After a dramatic tie against AS Roma, Liverpool progressed to the final of the Champions League which will take place in Kiev. The Reds will face Real Madrid, who beat Bayern Munich to progress.