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Around the Forest: Messi Missing in 3-0 loss to Croatia

Also: A look ahead at Thorns/Dash, Timbers and thorns hit the road, all the World Cup news you need and more!

Soccer: World Cup-Argentina vs Croatia Sipa USA-USA TODAY Sports


Thorns FC NWSL Preview | Expect changes on both sides as Portland returns to Houston | Portland Timbers
Diehard NWSL fans will look forward to Friday’s game because of the new faces on the Houston Dash, but it’s really the changes to the Portland Thorns that are likely to turn the week’s first game, even with one of the defending champions’ most important players set to miss the matchup.

Portland Timbers, Thorns FC to visit Newberg for seventh-annual Rose City Road Trip | Portland Timbers
On July 23, Timbers and Portland Thorns FC players will join club mascot Timber Joey for two hospital visits from 9-10 a.m., visiting patients at the Providence Newberg Medical Center and Providence Newberg Rehabilitation. Following the hospital visits, the full day of community events will continue with a midday trip to the Yamhill Community Action Partnership (YCAP) Harvest House, before concluding the Rose City Road Trip with a free youth soccer clinic at George Fox University later in the afternoon.

Major League Soccer

A Union Between Club and Player: Sebastien Le Toux in Philadelphia | Philadelphia Union
A skinny Frenchman, moving with the mechanical, caffeinated running motion of a robot in beta testing with extra batteries installed, created Philly’s best chance of the match: Spinning to create space in the box before losing his footing and tumbling, a living metaphor for the Union’s performance, to the artificial turf.

Report: Minnesota United eyeing Ecuadorian winger Romario Ibarra |
Kristian Dyer and Jeff Reuter reported in The Athletic on Thursday that the Loons are "looking to sign Romario Ibarra in the coming weeks." Ibarra is a 23-year-old winger who plays in his native Ecuador for Universidad Catolica.

Report: Felipe Gutierrez could be back in Sporting KC lineup before Aug. 1 |
But he's been sidelined following sports hernia surgery in April, and while Sporting Kansas City have been holding down the fort in his absence, fans are wondering when the Chilean midfielder will be back in action after the initial announcement estimated he would be out 2-3 months.

New NYCFC coach Torrent not yet in town, but business as usual for players |
Domenec Torrent, who replaced Patrick Vieira hours after the Frenchman was officially named the new coach at OGC Nice, is still in Spain awaiting his visa. NYCFC officials expect, or at least hope, the process ends any day now, and there’s a belief he’ll be on the bench at Yankee Stadium.

Stejskal: How Vancouver became one of MLS' most exciting attacking teams |
Despite a third-place regular season finish and a 5-0 thrashing of San Jose in the Western Conference Knockout Round, Vancouver ended 2017 on a downright depressing note. They were bounced from the Conference Semifinals by Seattle in miserable fashion, sitting in deep blocks and failing to threaten the Sounders at all as they registered just one shot on goal – a tame effort late in Leg 2 – in the entire series.

Columbus Crew SC's Zack Steffen out vs. LAFC with knee injury |
Crew SC head coach Gregg Berhalter on Thursday told the Columbus Dispatch's Andrew Erickson that Steffen suffered a knee injury in training and will not make the trip to face LAFC in Los Angeles on Saturday (10:30 pm ET | Full TV & Streaming Info).

Rumor: English midfielder Jack Rodwell looking for MLS move |
Rodwell, 27, has played in his native England his entire career to date. Beginning with Premier League side Everton, where he made his first-team debut in 2007, Rodwell established himself there before moving onto Manchester City, in the midst of their rise to one of the elite teams in England. While he didn't play frequently, the midfielder won the Premier League in 2013-14 before moving onto Sunderland in 2014.

Warshaw: How do Orlando City right the ship? |
After winning six straight, they dropped the six to follow. The 18 total points amassed during that 12-game stretch were right in line with contenders like Columbus Crew SC (17), LAFC (18) and NYCFC. And yet, when the ride came to a stop, head coach Jason Kreis was out.

Tata on Club America's interest in Martinez: "Atlanta don't need to sell" |
Atlanta United head coach Gerardo “Tata” Martino addressed reports of Club América’s interest in Josef Martinez on Wednesday, acknowledging the Mexican giants’ desire to buy the Five Stripes’ star striker but downplaying the likelihood of a move in the near future.

World Cup

Argentina players reportedly attempted mutiny, asked for coach Jorge Sampaoli's ousting
Sampaoli will stay on for Argentina’s final group game against Nigeria, according to the latest reports. But meetings reportedly carried deep into the early hours of Friday morning, past sunrise, with Sampaoli’s status in question.

Neymar looks off again but scores as Brazil escapes Costa Rica, appears set for knockout stages
A day after a loss to Croatia put Argentina on the brink of first-round elimination at the World Cup, five-time champion Brazil narrowly avoided a similar fate against Costa Rica in Saint Petersburg.

Neymar cries tears of relief after Brazil's dramatic World Cup win over Costa Rica
Immediately after the final whistle of Brazil’s dramatic win over Costa Rica on Friday, Neymar sunk to his knees. And 100 minutes of repressed emotion came pouring out of his body.

2018 World Cup: TV viewership down 44 percent from 2014 in US
2018 World Cup television viewership in the United States is down 44 percent from 2014, according to a Nielsen report. The drop is comparable on both Fox’s English-language broadcasts and NBCUniversal’s Telemundo Spanish-language broadcasts.

Another female reporter covering the World Cup sexually harassed on air
Just two days after Colombian reporter Julieth Gonzalez was assaulted on-camera while covering the World Cup in Russia, video of another female reporter on World Cup duty being sexually harassed has surfaced.

Messi goes missing as Argentina loses to Croatia, falls into deep World Cup hole
The Albiceleste failed to win for the second consecutive match in Russia, falling 3-0 to Croatia Thursday in Nizhny Novgorod on a self-inflicted wound by backup goalkeeper Willy Caballero, a brilliant long-range goal by Luca Modric and a tap-in by Ivan Rakitic in stoppage time.

World Cup's most embarrassing goalkeeper error dooms Argentina (Video)
Willy Caballero should not be anywhere near a World Cup field. He should not be Argentina’s starting goalkeeper. But he is. And for the second straight game, he cost Argentina.

The Top 10 Starting Goalkeepers for the 2018 World Cup — American Soccer Analysis
The last time I wrote a top ten list of World Cup goalkeepers the website promptly folded. So congratulations to American Soccer Analysis on a good run and I wish all the writers the best in their future endeavors. Now with that out of the way, here’s the inside scoop on the top goalkeepers in Russia this summer.

United States

Eric Lichaj signs for Hull City - Stars and Stripes FC
The 29-year-old leaves Nottingham Forest after spending the last six seasons at the City Ground. Forest made it known that they were willing to sell Lichaj before the defender entered his final year of his contract. The Chicago native made 190 appearances in that time, scoring six goals.

Pressing, Defensive Lines, and What Defensive Actions Correlate with Goals — American Soccer Analysis
How do you analytically measure a high defensive line and defensive pressing (see StatsBomb pressing index and Jamon's piece from a couple weeks ago)? Do we have enough data and information to analyze this behavior? If we do, how do these tactics impact the performance of a team?