Porter: Diego Valeri could see time in Sunday’s preseason game

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The Portland Timbers could get a major boost with the season starting in just over two weeks.

2013 leading scorer Diego Valeri, whose recovery from a sports hernia is taking longer than expected, could return to game action this Sunday, and could possibly be ready for opening day.

With a friendly against San Jose on the horizon this weekend, Valeri has returned to training and according to head coach Caleb Porter, it’s possible he gets back on the field sooner or later.

“Valeri was back in training today full out for the first time, and he looked good and felt good.”

The news is great for Timbers fans, who saw their 27-year-old talisman struggle with fitness during last year’s stretch run. In Portland’s nine regular season games after his injury against Real Salt Lake, Valeri averaged just 38 minutes per match.

Oddly enough, he scored five of his season’s 10 goals in that span, but come playoff time he was in and out of matches.

Originally listed as an adductor injury, it took six weeks for reports to emerge that he in fact was carrying a hernia.

A month and a half after his injury was sustained, it was obvious he was struggling. Porter said at the time, “You saw it in Vancouver – he was sore. He went in the game, he’s sore. He couldn’t run. He could barely give us what we needed and then in training he was sore.”

The Argentinian, whom Porter in the past called “one of our best players,” could be ready for opening day if all goes well, a prospect that was thrown into doubt the longer it took him to get back to training.

“If things go as planned, it might be tough to keep him out of the lineup on March 8,” Porter admitted. It’s hard to imagine Timbers fans complaining about that possibility.

France veteran Malouda loses appeal in Gold Cup case

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LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) Former France winger Florent Malouda has lost his appeal against being ruled ineligible to play for French Guiana at the 2017 Gold Cup.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport says its judges dismissed Malouda’s appeal against North American soccer body CONCACAF.

French Guiana fielded Malouda in a 0-0 draw against Honduras last July despite being told he was not eligible. CONCACAF awarded a 3-0 win to Honduras and suspended Malouda.

The Gold Cup uses FIFA eligibility rules which bar players from transferring allegiance after playing a competitive game for one country.

Malouda played 80 times for France including a 2006 World Cup final loss against Italy.

The French Guiana soccer federation hoped Malouda, now aged 37, could play in the Gold Cup because it is not a FIFA member.

Report: Bobby Wood unlikely to come to MLS this summer

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A U.S. Men’s National Team forward will probably have to wait a bit longer to come to Major League Soccer if that is the path that he chooses.

Reports have recently surfaced linking Bobby Wood to MLS at the conclusion of the Bundesliga season, however, MLSSoccer.com is reporting that a move for the American likely won’t come in 2018.

Wood, who remains under contract for three more seasons at Hamburg, is currently fighting relegation in Germany with his club side.

Hamburg currently sits 17th in the German top flight, eight points buried in the relegation zone with four matches remaining.

The MLSSoccer.com report suggests that MLS clubs aren’t willing to compensate Wood at the current rate of his contract in Germany.

Currently, Wood is making “several million dollars” per season, and even if Hamburg is relegated in 2017/18 Wood’s contract wouldn’t decrease to a number that clubs are comfortable paying.

If Wood was to join MLS, he would be considered a Discovery signing as he is not currently on the MLS player allocation list. The Washington Post previously reported that an MLS club has Wood included on their Discovery list, although the team’s identity isn’t known.

Report: Fellaini eyes MLS, China after shooting down Man United terms

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Marouane Fellaini‘s time in Manchester looks to be numbered, and a move abroad could have the Belgian in line for one last payday during his career.

The Manchester United midfielder has rejected multiple offers to stay on at Old Trafford ahead of his contract expiring this summer, which would allow Fellaini to pursue other opportunities come June.

Fellaini is being linked to moves to Major League Soccer and the Chinese Super League, as the veteran aims to secure a sizable contract upon leaving the Red Devils after over five-and-a-half years with the club.

The Daily Mail is also reporting that Fellaini would be open to hearing options that could keep him in the Premier League, although it is unclear if there is any serious interest from English sides at this time.

Since the arrivals of Paul Pogba and Nemanja Matic, Fellaini has struggled to find playing time under manager Jose Mourinho.

This season, the Belgium international has appeared in just 14 PL matches and 19 in all competitions. Fellaini has scored four goals in that span.

Chicago Fire venue to be renamed SeatGeek Stadium

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The Chicago Fire won’t be moving into a new stadium 2019, however, their venue will have a new name donned on the side of it.

For years, the Eastern Conference side has played its home matches at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Illinois, but starting next season the Fire’s home turf will be called SeatGeek Stadium as part of a rebrand.

SeatGeek is one of the largest online after-market ticket distributors, and was created back in 2009.

Toyota Park will undergo its transformation at the conclusion of the 2018 MLS season.

The venue is also home to the NWSL’s Chicago Red Stars.