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Around the Forest: Fernando Torres talks to continue without the Chicago Fire

Also: How the Timbers turned the defensive corner, LA Galaxy just not winning, who’s performed or underperformed and more!


Inside PTFC | When and how the Portland Timbers turned their defensive corner | Portland Timbers
Three weeks ago, after breaking through against Minnesota United FC for their first win of the season, the Portland Timbers had conceded 14 goals through six matches, accumulating one of MLS’ worst defensive records while going 1-3-2. Two games later, Portland has still only conceded 14 times, allowing their goals against average (1.75) to improve to a modest 13th among the 23 teams in Major League Soccer.

#StatMan Three | Diego Valeri continues his impressive free kick form | Portland Timbers
A late free-kick goal from the foot of Diego Valeri was the difference, as the Portland Timbers defeated the San Jose Earthquakes 1-0 at Avaya Stadium Saturday night. Here are three key #StatMan takeaways from the match.

Major League Soccer

Fernando Torres talks to proceed without Chicago Fire present - sources
A scheduled meeting between Fernando Torres' representatives to decide the Atletico Madrid striker's future will take place without Chicago Fire representatives present, sources have told ESPN FC. It is unclear whether dialogue between the two sides will continue.

PRO announces assignments for Week 11 of the 2018 MLS season |
The Professional Referee Organization (PRO) has released referee assignments for Week 11 of the MLS season.

LA Galaxy admit recent comeback efforts "just not enough" to get results |
After three losses in a row and a fourth in five games, LA Galaxy head coach Sigi Schmid didn’t mince words about his team's performance in their latest match — a 3-2 loss at the hands of the Houston Dynamo on Saturday. “I thought at times we did alright,” Schmid said. “But it’s just not enough.”

How three cities are fighting back against the oldest scam in US sports | Sport | The Guardian
Does this story sound familiar: a sports team pleads poverty and gets public funds to build a new stadium. A few years later, that same team changes hands at a massive valuation. A decade or two later, the team gripes about the stadium and leaves town. To the dismay of local fans and politicos, taxpayers are stuck with a tenant-less stadium and a sizable bill.

Vermes on his Sporting KC extension: "We're still building this project" |
“I know that I’m not a mercenary,” Vermes said in a press conference Monday following the announcement. “I’m not the guy that goes one year to this club, two years to that club, and just keep jumping around. I consider myself to be more of a builder. And I think we’re still building this project and I want to continue to be a part of it.”

Which MLS teams have underperformed and overperformed so far? |
Every team has played somewhere between seven to 10 matches so far, which in the grand scheme of things is still a pretty small sample size. But looking at expected goals (or xG) data provided by Opta, we can start answering some questions about whether a team's fast start is for real or if a slow one means doom for another.

Master Pass: All the top helpers from Week 10 | Matchday Central |
Enjoy every top-shelf pass from Week 10 of the MLS season right here, and let us know which pass you thought was the best of the weekend. And if you missed any of your favorite Matchday Central segments, catch them all here.

ExtraTime Radio: Six straight Ws for Orlando City, but are they "good"? |
Two months into the MLS season, and we're still trying to figure which teams are actually good, which are going fall back down to earth, which have had bum luck and which were out of the race before it even started.

Here are the longest winning streaks in MLS history for each team |
Orlando City SC won their sixth straight game in MLS play on Sunday, following a 3-1 victory over Real Salt Lake. It is the Lions' longest winning streak since they entered Major League Soccer in 2015. To put that into context, how does Orlando City's streak stack up against other teams? Here's the longest all-time winning streak for every active MLS team:

United States

USMNT declining Copa America invite is the right move - Stars and Stripes FC
The United States and Mexico will be staying north of the equator next summer. In news that was reported Saturday, CONMEBOL announced the field for the 2019 Copa America, and the USMNT and El Tri opted to decline an invitation to join the 12-team tournament. Instead, Japan and Qatar will round out the field that will compete in Brazil next summer.

World Cup bid: US assures FIFA on travel discrimination fear
The Trump administration has guaranteed to FIFA there will be no discrimination around entry to the United States at a World Cup in 2026. The North American bid has faced questions about the impact of attempts by U.S. President Donald Trump to implement a ban on travel to the U.S. by residents of six majority-Muslim countries.

After U.S. team misses qualifying for World Cup, ex-coach Bruce Arena writes about state of U.S. soccer
When Bruce Arena was asked to rescue a struggling U.S. national team in the fall of 2016, he was also asked to write a book about how he did it. He said yes to both requests. Neither one worked out quite the way he had hoped. "The book," Arena said, "was going to be that we qualified for the World Cup and getting ready for the World Cup."


The Famous Soccer Player Hiding in Plain Sight in a California Bakery - The New York Times
Most customers do not recognize the fit, well-dressed man walking around Tuts Bakery and Cafe, picking up used cups and dirty dishes. Why would they? And what would he be doing here?

Arsenal's Arsene Wenger getting 'more job offers than I expected'
Arsene Wenger says he has had plenty of job offers since announcing his plans to leave Arsenal this summer, but he remains no closer to deciding where he will go after his tenure ends. The Frenchman deflected more questions about who his successor at Arsenal should be, but agreed that the club should try to make an appointment well before the World Cup starts in June.

Arsenal target Luis Enrique eyes level pay with Pep Guardiola Jose Mourinho - sources
Arsenal managerial target Luis Enrique is seeking financial parity with Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho if he is to come to the Premier League, sources have told ESPN FC. The former Barcelona coach figures highly on Arsenal's wanted list to replace Arsene Wenger, but his demands are likely to put him out of the Gunners' reach.