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Major Link Soccer: FIFA Club World Cup Action

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Also: 2018 CONCACAF Champions League and MLS offseason news

Gremio FBPA v CF Pachuca - FIFA Club World Cup UAE 2017 Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images

Seattle

2017 was a long, grueling season for the Sounders, and when you make it to the MLS Cup final, the offseason is always short and hectic. But this year, the Sounders have even less time to rest and recharge their batteries because in February they return to the CONCACAF Champions League (CCL).

Draws for the reformatted and streamlined tournament, based on a new “CONCACAF Club Index”, take place December 16. The CONCACAF website has all the information you need on the draw and tournament structure.

MLS

It seems like the 2017 just ended, but the 2018 pre-season is just around the corner — training camp starts in January and a load of pre-season friendlies are already on the books for February.

The Portland Timbers are reportedly in the final stages of hiring Giovanni Savarese from winning NASL side New York Cosmos to replace Caleb Porter as their head coach.

In the expansion draft, LAFC snapped up Columbus Crew left back and Finnish international Jukka Raitala, as well as Toronto winger and Canadian International Raheem Edwards, but by nightfall the team traded both players to Montreal Impact in exchange for defender and Belgian international Laurent Ciman.

LAFC is also rumored to be working on a deal to acquire New York Red Bulls attacking central midfielder and captain Sacha Kljestan for allocation money. Kljestan is a U.S. international, MLS assists leader and 2016 MLS MVP finalist.

USA

Finally, an October 2018 opening of the National Soccer Hall of Fame at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas has been announced. An induction ceremony, a hall of fame game and more activities are planned.

World

Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League title holder Urawa Red Diamonds won the FIFA Club World Cup fifth place match yesterday against Confederation of African Football (CAF) Champions League winners Wydad Casablanca.

In Club World Cup semifinal action from yesterday, Copa Libertadores champs Grêmio beat plucky CCL winners Pachuca. Grêmio advanced over the 10-man Pachuca side with a lone goal scored in extra time after 120 minutes of play.

Unfortunately the CONCACAF champs were crowned 8 months ago and this year Pachuca are a much-changed side. Grêmio was also playing their first match of the tournament (South American and European champs enter at the semifinal stage) while Pachuca, newly featuring past Sounders-interest Kaisuke Honda, had just gone through another 120-minute battle in their win over Wydad Casablanca last Saturday.

Gremio will play the winners of this morning’s second semifinal between UEFA (and defending Club World Cup) champions Real Madrid and the hosts, Arabian Gulf League champs Al Jazira.

A win by Real Madrid would make them the first repeat Club World Cup winner and would tie Barcelona’s record of three Club World Cup titles.