Here are the top 15 stories everyone’s talking about this morning:

1. TIMBERS TAKE THE LEAD

The Portland Timbers let loose their attack on Sunday night, taking a 3-1 lead over FC Dallas (HIGHLIGHTS) in the first leg of the Western Conference final as their new formation once again worked to perfection. For Dallas, though, their inability to defend set-pieces may have proven costly, yet they’re confident they can mount a comeback.

2. CREW SC CUT DOWN THE RED BULLS

Columbus Crew SC feel they’re in a good position to reach MLS Cup after a 2-0 win over the New York Red Bulls at MAPFRE Stadium on Sunday (HIGHLIGHTS). Crew SC still have to make the closing trip to Red Bull Arena, but the Red Bulls know they face tough odds after some poor defending in the first leg. 

3. CASTILLO SET FOR MOVE?

FC Dallas could be set to lose one of their most important players this winter, with reports that Liga MX’s Club América are in talks to sign Fabian Castillo. Here are 10 things you need to know about FC Dallas’ dynamic winger.

4. DOS SANTOS JOINS SWOPE PARK RANGERS

Sporting Kansas City have made a strong choice for the first head coach of their new USL side, bringing in NASL Coach of the Year Marc Dos Santos to lead Swope Park Rangers. According to the former Ottawa Fury boss, joining Sporting KC’s setup was an easy choice to make.

5. TIMBERS 2 SET FOR SOMETHING DIFFERENT?

Though the Portland Timbers have reached the verge of a first MLS Cup appearance, the organization could be preparing to try something different with its USL side: According to reports on Friday, Portland Timbers 2 are set to part ways with head coach Jay Vidovich.

6. GERRARD WASN’T PREPARED

Steven Gerrard has admitted he wasn’t prepared for the level of MLS when he arrived at the LA Galaxy this summer, warning any future imports against showing up with a lax mentality. Meanwhile, it looks as though one of Gerrard’s Galaxy teammates might not return.

7. SOUNDERS SET FOR BIG OFFSEASON

With the Seattle Sounders once again falling short in the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs, they’re now gearing up for the “most eventful offseason in MLS history.” While there might be plenty of changes coming, there will surely be a place for Obafemi Martins, just named the team’s 2015 MVP.

8. PARDO FOR THE FIRE?

With Tab Ramos apparently out of the running to become the new head coach of the Chicago Fire, a report on Friday suggested the club are prepared to offer the job to former Mexico international Pavel Pardo, who spent two years at the Fire before retiring in 2012.

9. MAZZARRI WANTS AN MLS SIDE

Another new rumor suggests that Walter Mazzarri, former manager at Italian sides Inter Milan, Sampdoria and Napoli, is keen for a job in MLS. However, take that with a pinch of salt; the same report suggests Toronto FC could be his destination, despite TFC already declaring that Greg Vanney’s job is safe. President Bill Manning also dismissed the connection.

Andrea Pirlo

10. PIRLO RUMORS JUST WON’T STOP

It seems perhaps someone wasn’t listening to Andrea Pirlo’s request regarding transfer rumors: A new piece of gossip suggests the Italian star will be joining New York City FC’s sister club, English Premier League side Manchester City, in January.

11. THE RAPIDS REACH OUT

Though their season ended early, the Colorado Rapids helped brighten the day of two young siblings who recently suffered heart-wrenching tragedy.

12. CONSULT THE COMMITTEE

A 24-member committee has been put in place by St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman to help advise on Minnesota United FC’s new stadium. Meanwhile, construction on Mercedes-Benz Stadium (which fellow expansion side Atlanta United FC will call home) is already well under way. But why did the club abandon the original plans for their training complex?

13. ANOTHER POTENTIAL CALL-UP FOR CANADA

Could another new option be about to present itself to the Canada national team?  It seems Burnley midfielder Scott Arfield, teammates with Canada international David Edgar in The Championship, is open to representing Canada after continued snubs from Scotland.

14. KIDS TO KEEP AN EYE ON

As the US national team starts to develop new talent at all levels of competition, could these 11 teenagers one day become difference makers for the USMNT?

15. ONE EXPORT’S JOY …

There were mixed results for American Exports in England over the weekend, as US goalkeepers Tim Howard and Brad Guzan faced off in their return from international duty. Over in Germany, a few more US national team players helped their sides to important victories.

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