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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Craw's Sports Biz 59 Seconds

By Greg Crawford, sports biz insider @crawssportsbiz

Who is your pick as the most powerful person in sports business in 2013 and any people to watch in 2014 in the sports business world? Please either comment, or email me at crawscorner@gmail .com

Greg Crawford is the sports business, golf and college basketball insider for and Comcast SportsNet

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Craw's Sports Biz 59 Seconds

By Greg Crawford, sports biz insider @crawssportsbiz and @wchoops

Please read Craw's Sports Business Weekend, on today,

Greg Crawford is the sports business insider for and can be reached at or

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Craw's Sports Biz 59 Seconds

By Greg Crawford, Sports Biz Insider, @crawssportsbiz and @wchoops

It should be no surprise that Nike leads the shoe competition in the NBA. Currently 278 players wear Nike, the closest competition is Adidas with 71. The most popular Nike shoe worn by players is the 2013 Nike Hyperdunk, worn at present by 80 players.

Greg Crawford covers sports biz, college basketball and golf for and is also a regular panelist on Talkin' Ducks basketball, which will debut in 2014 on January 6th at 8:00 p.m. You can email Greg at or

Friday, December 27, 2013

Family First

When I watch interviews of professional athletes I always smile at the athlete who thank their family.  After all, if not for a supportive family many of them would not be where they are today.  Families support young athletes financially, with transportation, equipment, moral support, and other countless ways.  Family is the single most important factor in a young athlete’s life.

We as coaches need to keep this in mind.  Often we look at Holiday Break, Spring Break, and Summer Vacations as time to get in an extra practice, another tournament, or camps.  These are all good things to have as options for young athletes, but we need to make them just that, options.  We need to draw a line between making a child choose between their family and their team
 I have been on all sides of this equation.  I have been the athlete, the coach, and the parent.  By far the toughest role I have played is that of the parent.  Because of that, I have tried to make significant changes as a coach.  My son came home from a team meeting and informed me of the team calendar.  They had a full schedule for Spring Break as well as most of the summer.  I had already planned family vacations for Spring Break as well as a few things in the summer.  I was conflicted.  I have always told my son he needs to be dedicated to his sports.  But if I cancelled the trips, would I as a parent be choosing sports over family?  Would missing one or two practices and maybe a game make or break my son’s career?  In the end, I stepped in as a father, and we went on vacation
My son went on to have a fabulous year in sports.  His playing time was never jeopardized by going on vacation.  He missed very little in fact.  At the end of that year I asked him what the highlight of his year was.  He told me he had two.  The first was the Spring Break vacation we took, and the second was a tournament he went to with his team.

I discovered my son had balance.  We found a good balance with his sports and his family.  As a coach I want balance from my athletes.  A balance between the team and their family.  I see the significance for having extra practices and tournament during breaks.  Not only do they make the athletes better, but it also gives kids something to do other than just sit at home playing dreadful video games.  But in my emails to parents about my expectations during breaks, I always have a preference.  The preference being family comes first.

A Chinese Proverb says “A family in harmony will prosper in everything.”  Coaches, please keep this in mind as we think about what we demand of time.  If an athlete has balance with sports and family, harmony in both will be achieved. 

Craw's Sports Biz 59 Seconds

By Greg Crawford, sports biz insider @crawssportsbiz

It is 10 days until the BCS Championship game between Auburn and Florida State and just over 5,000 tickets are left for the game. At an average price of the $419, this is almost assured the cheapest price to see any major bowl game in the last five years. Pasadena awaits this game, but probably not with a full house.

Greg Crawford covers college basketball, golf and sports business for

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Craw's Sports Biz 59 Seconds

By Greg Crawford, sports biz insider @crawssportsbiz

Were the sleeved jerseys all NBA teams wore on Christmas Day a big hit? You would have to say yes, not even based on any sales figures as of yet, but based on the fact as of this morning, over 1,000 articles were written about the jerseys. Free marketing is a very good price.

Greg Crawford covers college basketball, golf and sports biz for and every Sunday you can read Craw's Sports Business Weekend at

To email Greg,

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Craw's Sports Biz 59 Seconds

By Greg Crawford, Sports Biz Insider @wchoops and @crawssportsbiz

Rumblings are about that a new NBA TV deal could be struck as soon as February and it might be for $1.7 billion, which would get the attention of everyone. Stand by. It would take affect in 2016-17.

To read more of Greg Crawford on basketball, golf and sports biz, Crawford's Court and Crawford's Clubhouse, and

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Craw's Sports Biz 59 Seconds Or Less

By Greg Crawford, sports biz insider @wchoops

Tremendous news for the National Hockey League, this past week they inked a 12 year deal with Rogers Communications for the Canadian NHL TV Rights for $400 million per year. Previous Canadian deal was for just under $150 million.

Follow Greg Crawford at as every Sunday he writes, Craw's Sports Business Weekend,

Monday, December 16, 2013

Craw's Sports Biz 59 Seconds

Greg Crawford is the creator and founder of Craw's Sports Business Weekend on and also the founder of Craw's Sports Biz 59 seconds, right here, which you can read in 59 seconds or less.

What would you as a reader like to see in this blog when it comes to sports business, I am open to all suggestions.


Greg Crawford, @wchoops

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Craw's Sports Biz 59 seconds

Greg Crawford is the founder and creator of Craw's Sports Business Weekend on and also Craw's Sports Biz 59 seconds, guaranteed to ready in 59 seconds or less.

The power of Alabama football is always present. Sugar Bowl tickets are up 20 percent this year, the highest priced Sugar Bowl tickets in five years. Average price, $387.00.

Greg Crawford @wchoops

Friday, December 13, 2013

Today's Sports Biz 59 seconds and sports question

Greg Crawford is the founder and creator of Craw's Sports Business Weekend on and the developer of Craw's Sports Biz 59 seconds right here.

Nike leads the U.S. sneaker business with a 86 percent share, which can be considered dominant, special and anything else you wish to call it.

Greg Crawford @wchoops

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Big News For Crawscorner

There is some really big news coming, actually starting tomorrow, December 11th. You will see much more on this blog, sports, an occasional political comment and some funny stuff. In addition each day you will be asked to answer the sports question of the day and also get a Craw's Sports Business 59 Seconds, a short narrative on the business of sports.

Thanks and be sure to comeback tomorrow, you will want to be here everyday.

Thanks, Greg Crawford @wchoops

Greg Crawford is the founder and producer of Craw's Sports Business Weekend, on which comes out every Sunday.

He also is the COO of Greg Crawford Speaks, where you can get the best public speaking/presenting training around. or

Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Gap

Three years ago I was asked to coach my son's 13 year old baseball team.  I had been his coach every year since tee-ball.  When he was 11 he switched Little Leagues.  There was no room for me to coach.  All the coaches were well established in the League.  I helped where I could.  After all, it is a sport I know a little about, and have a lot of passion for.  I knew I just had to wait my turn.

When my turn finally came, I was asked to coach with someone I had never met before.  In fact I met him for the first time at the draft.  The first impression of this man will last a life time in my mind.  I know a lot about the game of baseball, and I have have coached many sports.  But the lessons I learned from Coach Steve was about developing kids and programs.  Neither of us knew much about any of the kids.  In fact I would call it a blind draft. Wow, what a year we had.

As the year came to a close, Coach Steve and I talked and talked about what to do next.  Coach Steve had been around for a long time.  His own boys were grown.  He just wanted to coach.  Give some of his own passion for the game to a new group of young boys.  The problem we faced was declining numbers in the program.  Declining so badly we were confident we would not have a league the following year.

What I see happening in baseball is the same thing I see happening in all sports.  And it is leaving a gap.

There are very expensive programs in all sports parents are able to get their kids into.  Programs that promise parents college scholarships to big schools. Kids who have the opportunity to join these programs get great instruction.  But what happens to the rest of the kids?  The kids who's parents can't afford private lessons?  The kids who want to play more than one sport?  The kid who just wants to play to play?  

Here's the gap.  Kids, or their parents, who decide to spend their time and money for expert private lessons and programs go on to play.  They leave the most basic programs, and in turn the basic programs don't have enough players to field a team.  These programs go away.  The kid who just wants to play has nothing.

I always told my son my job as his parent and his coach is to prepare him for whatever level he wants to play next.  When he was in Little League, my job was to prepare him for Babe Ruth if he wanted to play at that level.  When he was in Babe Ruth, my job was to prepare him for high school.  What I see is parents preparing 10 year olds for the pro draft.

Coach Steve does not own a warehouse for kids to work out in.  Coach Steve has much more.  He has a talent for the game of life.  A way about him kids and adults adore.  He wants to share his love for baseball.  The decline in inner city baseball is preventing kids from being touched by a man who just wants to share.

There are many factors leading to the decline of inner city sports programs.  This is just one.  But it's huge.  Not only are we creating a gap of who plays and who can't by promoting expensive programs, but we are side lining great men and women like Coach Steve who have so much to offer our young children.

The secret is this:  At age 10, we cannot allow ourselves to live vicariously through our children,.  We had our time to play.  Whether we chose to play or chose to sit, our time is gone.  Rather than preparing the 10 year old for the major league draft, prepare him for being 11.   

Thank you Coach Steve.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Craw's Sports Biz 30 Second News

Craw's Sports Biz 30 Second News is a new feature that will appear on Monday through Saturday. Then every Sunday you can go to to read Craw's Sports Business Weekend on

Saturday, November 9th, 2013

Because of their fast start this season in the NBA, as they beat both Miami and Chicago, the Philadelphia 76ers ticket prices have increased by 35 percent on the secondary market, proving that star power is not as important as winning when it comes to fans in the NBA.

Greg Crawford

Today's Craw's Sports ?????

What is the one sporting event you would like to see that you have never been too? Answer below.

Today's Craw's Sports ???? is brought to you each day except Monday, by Greg Crawford of's Court and Crawford's Clubhouse.

Please follow Greg on twitter @wchoops

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Craw's Sports ????????? (10/22/2013

Please feel free to comment about today's sports question, which is:

Who will win the NBA championship in 2014 and why?

Thanks for answering in advance.

Greg Crawford

twitter @wchoops

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Developing Athletes and Athletic Programs

Video games, big screen televisions, iPhones, iPads.  The list of stimuli today's youth are exposed to is not exhaustive.  Obviously long gone are the days of kick the can.  Have kids even heard of wiffle ball?  As technology advances, the desire for kids to go outside decreases.  This has been a challenge for coaches since Atari was introduced to American households.  These are obvious hurdles.  There are other hidden hurdles coaches and sport programs are facing, and if we don't adjust to them, we will continue to have a rapid decline in youth sports.

One of the goals of every youth program is to attract as many players as possible.  It's no secret inner-city sports programs have been on a steady decline for a long time.  Some of the cause for the decline is lack of players, and some of the decline is due to lack of funding.  How do we get our youth back into our sports programs, and how can we fund them?

There seems to be a generation who have a sense of entitlement even if it is not yet earned.  College graduates think they deserve to start just below the CEO instead of the mail room.  How do we teach humility, dedication, and hard work.  If coaches are too hard on a young athlete, will they return for another game or season?  If an athlete doesn't get as much playing time either they or their parents think they should be getting, will they return?

I will explore these and other topics regarding youth sports programs.  The goal is to identify some of the causes for the decrease in participation in athletic programs, from tee-ball to Friday night lights.  There is little argument of the benefits athletic programs provide youth.  If we allow sports programs to deteriorate we are doing a disservice to our youth, and  weakening our future work- force and leadership.  

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Recent Blogs, A Must Read   10/1/2013  10/4/2013

Sunday, September 22, 2013

This week's blogs

Be sure to check out today's Craw's Sports Business Weekend, where we talk about the NBA all-star game coming to Portland, the next big time golf super star and a product that is getting rave reviews from athletes and teams.

This week in Crawford's Clubhouse:

1. Some great golf tips

2. Should viewers be allowed to call in rules violations

3. Screaming on the golf course

4. Some more tips on speeding up play

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Check These Blogs Out


2. www.csnnw,com/blog/crawfords-clubhouse

please bookmark both.

Coming August 29th to something really new and exciting each and everyday.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Portland Soccer, July 16, 2013

The past seven days were very busy for soccer in Portland, as we saw some great games and big news for the city.

Last Tuesday, the Gold Cup came to Portland for two games. This tournament is for the national teams of countries in the Confederation of North, Central, and Caribbean American Football Associations (CONCACAF), and is played every two years. The most recent tournaments have had games at cities all around the United States. This year, Portland was selected for group stage matches between Costa Rica and Panama, and the United States against Belize. This would be the first time since 1997 the US Men's National Team had played in Portland.

As expected, the game itself was a comfortable win for the US, with the final score 6-1, but the important part was that over 18,000 fans came to Jeld-Wen Field to see international soccer and showed that support for the game at every level is as strong as anywhere in the country. The US Soccer Federation will almost certainly consider Portland for more of its games in the future. This is good for the city in general as soccer fans from all across the country came to see the US play last week and in the process also got to enjoy the city of Portland.

There was more good news for the club and the city the next day, as MLS announced the 2014 All-Star Game will be played at Jeld-Wen Field sometime next July or August. The MLS All-Stars will play a major club, likely from Europe, who is yet to be determined. This will be another chance for fans to come visit Portland and enjoy high level soccer along with all the sights and entertainment options around the city.

Saturday the Timbers returned home to face the Los Angeles Galaxy. LA is a traditional power in MLS, winning the championship four times, and almost always has a strong team. Saturday's game was no different as the teams traded goals in the first half for a 1-1 tie heading into the second. The match was a very close, back-and-forth affair, and either team could have won it. In the last minute of stoppage time, with the game almost over, Diego Valeri sent a corner kick toward the LA goal, and Andrew Jean-Baptiste headed in the game winner. The stadium was a loud as I've ever heard it during the celebration, and anybody who was there will remember it for a very, very long time. It was another big win for the Timbers, as they moved back into second place in the Western Conference with the three points.

The Thorns ended the week by playing the Western New York Flash on Sunday. They had been struggling, with no goals in their last three games, and were down 1-0 on a 38th-minute goal from Abby Wambach, one of the best players in the US. One minute later Christine Sinclair found Mana Shim at the top of the penalty area and Shim put her shot inside the far post. The most exciting moment of the match, however, came in the 84th minute after Western New York was awarded a penalty. Abby Wambach stepped up to take the kick, but Thorns goalkeeper Karina Leblanc saved the shot to preserve the draw and keep Portland in second place, within striking distance of league leading Sky Blue FC. Portland and Sky Blue will face each other one more time this season, in Portland on July 31.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Always Check Out

Crawford's Court ------

Crawford's Clubhouse -----

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Portland Soccer, June 25, 2013

At this point in the season, the Timbers are doing something they haven't done in MLS: Go into games expecting to win and doing just that, comfortably. Sunday against the Colorado Rapids they started slowly, allowing the Rapids several good chances at goal before settling down, playing the style they've played all year, and coming away with a 3-0 win.

The win may have been routine, but the goals were all very nice. First, in the 10th minute, Will Johson took a free kick and passed to Rodney Wallace, who the Rapids failed to cover. He sent a cross to Frederic Piquionne, who headed the ball in off the bottom of the crossbar to give Portland the lead. It was a nicely worked goal that started from a smart play by the Timbers captain.

Just before halftime, as the clock approached 45:00, Piquionne won a challenge for the ball and found Wallace running at goal. Wallace laid the ball off for Johnson. Watching the play in real time it seemed Johnson made a great run at the goal to beat goalkeeper Clint Irwin for a 2-0 lead. On replay it turned out Johnson had done even better, flicking the ball up to himself before volleying it in, all on the run. What looked like a good goal was a spectacular one and a highlight of the season so far.

Entering the second half with a two-goal lead allowed the Timbers to keep possession and run time off the clock a little. Colorado did manage 18 shots, but apart from the opening 10 minutes and a time in the 58th when Jack Jewsbury made a good clearance off the goal line, the Rapids were not too threatening. Portland put any doubts to rest in the 83rd, however. Substitute Ben Zemanski passed wide to Wallace, who crossed to Ryan Johnson with one touch. The striker, coming off the bench, slotted the ball home with one touch as well. It was a beautiful team goal that was the perfect cap to a win that took the Timbers to a tie for first place in the Western Conference with Real Salt Lake.

Even more encouraging was the fact that coach Caleb Porter and the players admitted the performance wasn't perfect and they are still working toward being the best they can be.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Portland Soccer, June 18, 2013

The past weekend was a very busy, very good one. On Saturday the Timbers faced FC Dallas, the league leaders. The two teams had faced each other in Dallas in May and the result was a 1-1 draw. Most players and fans felt the Timbers could have had a win if not for a controversial penalty, but it was clear these were two very good teams. The last MLS home game was back on May 12, the weather was perfect, and the crowd was eagerly anticipating a good match.

In the end, the match was as good as I was hoping. Portland had plenty of chances, but Dallas has a very good defense and goalkeeper Raul Fernandez had an excellent game. For the first half and the opening minutes of the second it seemed as if this would be a scoreless draw.

Then came Darlington Nagbe. He dribbled into the left side of the penalty area, spun, and curved the ball inside the post from a tight angle. The only person in the stadium who saw a chance there was Nagbe, and he took it. Credit also should go to Kalif Alhassan, who had the assist on the goal, which was a just reward for a strong game from the midfieder. Alhassan's biggest problem has been consistency in his four years with the Timbers. Saturday, however, they needed a big game from him and got it, as he was a key in building the attack.

Following the goal Portland and Dallas continued the high intensity that was present throughout the game, but the Timbers came out with a huge 1-0 win that was their 13th consecutive game without a loss.

The next day the Thorns faced the Seattle Reign at home, without their Alex Morgan, Christine Sinclair, and Rachel Beuhler, who were away with their national teams. The last time Portland was without them they struggled to a 2-0 loss to Chicago. After the first half ended scoreless it looked as if Portland's struggles would continue.

The match changed quickly once the second half started. Forward Danielle Foxhoven came on to start the half and three minutes later took a pass from Mana Shim, found space on the left side of the penalty area, and scored a brilliant curving goal from about the same spot Nagbe had scored from for the Timbers the day before. Foxhoven's speed and energy changed the Thorns team and they seemed more aggressive the second half. Portland's new approach paid off in a second goal in the 66th minute when Angie Kerr played a perfect pass to Shim, who split the Seattle central defenders and scored on a 1 v 1 with goalkeeper Michelle Betos to make the score 2-0, which is how it finished. The Thorns ended the weekend tied at the top of the NWSL table with Sky Blue FC, who they face Saturday in New Jersey.

There was more good Thorns news today as the team signed Tiffany Weimer. She had been playing in Denmark and has had significant professional experience following a good college career from 2000-2005. She should bring veteran leadership to the Thorns and will be another option at forward.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Portland Soccer, June 11, 2013

Although there are plenty of stars in the game of soccer it really is a team game. You need everyone working together to succeed. However, some players are more valuable than others. The Timbers are no exception and showed it Saturday at Chicago. With Diego Valeri controlling the midfield they looked dangerous and focused, taking a 2-0 lead. In the final 20 minutes, after he had left the game, the Timbers seemed disorganized and allowed the Fire to come back for a 2-2 draw. While the result extended Portland's unbeaten streak to 12 games, it was still a little disappointing not to take all three points after having the lead for so much of the match. 

Valeri made his mark with his passing and distribution from the start of the game, and in the 33rd minute he put his name on the score sheet, putting his short range shot off the near post and into the net from about 20 yards out. Truthfully the Fire were lucky not be down more than one goal at that point, as the Timbers had hit the post three times in the first four minutes of the game, with two excellent chances in the first 45 seconds alone. 

In the second half the Portland pressure continued, and in the 58th minute Frederic Piquionne, having the ball penalty area, cut it back to substitute Ben Zemanski 25 yards from goal. Zemanski one-timed a low shot past Chicago goalkeeper Shawn Johnson. The Timbers had a 2-0 lead with half an hour to go and seemed well on their way to a solid road win. 

After Valeri left the game and Sal Zizzo came on in the 67th minute, however, the game turned in Chicago's favor. In the 68th minute Andrew Jean-Baptiste was beaten to a through ball by Mike Magee, who scored into an empty net to make the score 2-1. Jean-Baptiste is prone to a major mistake or two every game, and in this case it led to a goal. He's got a lot of promise and is already a good defender, but he still needs time to develop and learn the game at the professional level. The good news was that Pa Modou Kah had a nice game at the other central defender spot and seems to have settled in. 

Chicago kept up pressure for most of the rest of the match, and it paid off when Daniel Paladini put a free kick over the wall to tie the game in the 82nd minute. Portland did have some chances late, after Jose Valencia came in and brought some energy and life to an offense that had been struggling. He's done well in his handful of appearances and probably will feature in the Open Cup game Wednesday against Tampa Bay. The Open Cup may also be a reason Porter made the unusual move of removing Valeri so early. The Timbers have that game Wednesday and a league game against Dallas next Saturday, so it will be very important to balance rest with playing lineups that can win games. Coach Caleb Porter is still learning this, and he's off to a good start, but as he's said all season, there's still room for improvement. 

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Portland Soccer, June 7, 2013

Most games have a lot of good and a lot of bad, and the Thorns' 4-3 win over FC Kansas City last night was no exception. The attack looked better at times but there were still some of the same issues the Thorns need to work on.

Portland opened the scoring quickly, in the 13th minute. Becky Edwards sent a ball forward for Alex Morgan. Becky Sauerbrunn was racing Morgan to the ball when she slipped and fell, leaving Morgan alone against keeper Nicole Barnhart. She finished very nicely, putting her shot over Barnhart and into the top of the net for an early lead. Edwards had a strong game all night, winning the ball in midfield and looking for forwards to pass to.

They added to their lead after 20 minutes. Marian Dougherty took the ball down to the goal line and sent a cross into the penalty area. Courtney Wetzel was running at goal and was first to the ball for an easy tap in from 12 yards out. It seemed as if the Thorns might be well on their way to recovering from their loss to Chicago last weekend. This goal wasn't very flashy or spectacular, but that's what I liked the most about it. It came from a simple but effective move that didn't involve trying to get to a longball. The goal was a sign that the Thorns are capable of creating goals out of passing and movement, an encouraging sign.

Portland's defense, however, has been prone to mistakes, and in the 38th minute they made another. Rachel Buehler was forced to tackle Kansas City's Renae Cuellar from behind and give up a penalty kick. Honestly, Buehler was lucky to escape without a yellow card on the play as she fouled Cuellar from behind and didn't get anywhere near the ball. Lauren Cheney converted the penalty kick to make it 2-1 after the first half.

In the 48th minute, Danielle Foxhoven, who had just come on at halftime, tapped a cross from Morgan into the goal for a 3-1 lead. It was another good goal that came from getting forward and getting a cross in. Eight minutes later, though, KC made it 3-2 on another defensive breakdown. This time the left side of the back line was at fault. Dougherty was far too lax about allowing Leigh Ann Robinson to get to the goal line and cross the ball, and Kat Williamson was beaten to the near post by Cheney, who had her second goal of the game.

Portland pushed the lead back to two in the 66th. Barnhart blocked a cross from Christine Sinclair, but Morgan gained control of the rebound and her shot deflected off Allie Long, who was credited with the goal. The Thorns allowed Kansas City to close to within a goal once again, however, when they allowed Erika Tymrak a shot just outside the top of the 18 that made it through everyone untouched. Portland was able to hold on from there, however, and take all three points in an entertaining, back-and-forth contest.

Although the Thorns did well to score four times, and was a little better in attack, the defense still needs work. There were still a number of times KC was able to get into dangerous positions, and with a little better finishing could easily have drawn or even won the game. The defense has been together most of the season so they should know how to play as a unit. On the whole, though, it was a good night and a good win for the Thorns, who needed an improved performance and got it.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Portland Soccer, June 4, 2013

With the Timbers having the past weekend off, the focus turned to the Thorns and their game at home against  the Chicago Red Stars. It would be an interesting matchup since four Thorns starters would be away representing their national teams. Alex Morgan and Rachel Beuhler would be playing for the United States in their friendly against Canada, who would have Christine Sinclair and Karina Leblanc in their squad. All four are key members of the Thorns, and the team would have to find a way to win without them.

As it turned out I don't think the absence of Sinclair and Morgan, by far the two biggest attacking threats on the Thorns, had much of an effect on the result. The Thorns lost 2-0 in a match where Chicago took advantage of their opportunities and the Thorns once again couldn't get organized in midfield. Angie Kerr had some good moments but forwards Meleana Shim and Danielle Foxhoven weren't able to finish them.

Defensively the Thorns may have missed Beuhler's organizational skills as both Chicago goals came from huge defensive lapses. Chicago scored their first goal in the 35th minute. After a Chicago corner kick was headed across the goal area, Zakiya Bywaters was alone at the opposite post to head the ball in. The Thorns completely lost track of her. In the 6ist minute the Red Stars scored a second goal. Lydia Vandenburgh sent a cross from the left side of the penalty area to the opposite side, where Jackie Santacaterina had beaten a defender for an open look at the goal.

Portland, with their national team players back, has a chance to improve their game quickly, as Kansas City is at Jeld-Wen Field Thursday night. KC was their opponent in the first game of the season, and the first in NWSL history. That game finished 1-1 so the Thorns will have a good test on their hands.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Portland Soccer, May 28, 2013

It was another good road trip for the Timbers, who have now gone 11 games without a loss. The Timbers faced DC United in the capital Saturday. DC is in last place in the Eastern Conference and indeed has the worst record in the league. Saturday they didn't show many signs of ending that pattern as Portland was able to control the game for the most part and emerged with a 2-0 victory. Rodney Wallace continued his turnaround season by scoring the first goal in the 21st minute, a nice finish inside the near post after a cross from Frederic Piquionne. Darlington Nagbe added another in the second half as Ryan Johnson's pass put him alone against DC goalkeeper Bill Hamid.

It says something about how expectations have changed when fans were still critical of the Timbers' somewhat sloppy play despite a win on the road. The defense allowed DC to have many chances to score but they could only put two shots on target. A better team could have punished Portland for their defensive mistakes, but Portland still did all right considering the lineup they had. With Futty suspended, Pa Modou Kah made his Timbers debut and played the entire game at center back. He had a few miscues but did well, especially for not having played in about a month. Also, midfielder Diego Valeri was out with a hamstring injury and Frederic Piquionne made his first start at forward. Portland could have played better, but I think the team is aware of that and will be ready for their next game.

Wednesday night they play the Wilmington Hammerheads, a USL PRO club (the third level of US soccer), in the US Open Cup. Clubs at all levels, from amateur to professional, compete in the Open Cup and Timbers fans would love for the team to make a run at the title. Because Cup matches usually are against unfamiliar opponents in the middle of the week, they're a good chance for fans who don't have season tickets to see the Timbers in person.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Wednesday Night, May 29th, BRIAN WHEELER

If you are in the Oregon or SW Washington area, please come to Nohos Hawaiian, 4627 NE Fremont at 6;30 pm to hear Brian Wheeler, legendary voice of the Portland Trail Blazers speak, answer your questions and great everyone, talking about the Blazers, NBA playoffs and the June 27th NBA Draft.

You can RSVP, but just going to and put RSVP in subject line.

Thank you

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Portland Soccer, May 19, 2013

Over the course of a season teams begin to develop certain patterns. A team might have a tendency to give up a goal, then not have the talent or mentality to fight back. Then there are teams who keep pressing no matter what the score, who believe in their coach's system and each other. Saturday's game at Vancouver showed once again that this year's Timbers are that second kind of team.

After a start that saw some exciting action both ways, Camilo gave Vancouver the lead with an excellent free kick goal in the 24th minute. The Timbers dominated possession for the half, though, and always seemed like they could tie it. The loss of Darlington Nagbe to an ankle injury late in the half was a negative, but this is a team that's pulled out results after losing key players before.

Seven minutes into the second half, Portland's hard work paid off with a handball in the penalty area. Will Johnson calmly rolled his penalty kick into the net to tie the game at 1-1 after 52 minutes. Unfortunately in the 54th it seemed the Timbers might still have been thinking about the goal they just scored. A defensive lapse allowed Gershon Koffie an easy look at goal, and he made no mistake. After all Portland's hard work, they were behind again.

The Timbers of last year might have been able to find an equalizer once, but twice would have been unthinkable to most followers of the team. And if they had been down to 10 men it would certainly have been over. That's where Portland found themselves this year after Futty was incorrectly sent off for apparently denying an obvious goalscoring opportunity, a truly gigantic mistake by the referee.

It only takes a moment of inattention to give up a goal in soccer. It only takes a few seconds of skill to score a goal. In the 82nd minute Trencito Valencia won a long ball from Will Johnson, cut by a defender, and made it 2-2. For a player who didn't play an MLS game all of last year with a knee injury he was very composed when finishing his chance. Trencito certainly seems to have earned more playing time with that performance.

The only problem was that Trencito appeared to have used his arms to control the ball. The referee didn't see it, though, and the goal stood. After a bad call went against them earlier in the game the Timbers benefited from another missed call. It may have given them a draw instead of a loss, but then again the questionable penalty against them in Dallas they might have won instead of tied that match. Mistakes happen in soccer, as in every sport, but they tend to even out.

This game fit the pattern of the season so far: a Timbers team that keeps working, no matter the score or time remaining. There is no panic when they fall behind, they just stay calm and trust that they have the ability to come back. There are statistics to show how much better the Timbers are at passing the ball and how much more offense they are creating. What can't be measured, though, is the work rate and belief in the team. If you could put that into numbers, the Timbers would lead the league in it.

Today's SPORTS ???? 5/19/2013

How do you feel about replay in sports and why?

Please answer below and post in comment section.

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Friday, May 17, 2013

Portland Soccer, May 17, 2013

The season has been off to a good start for the Portland Thorns. They were in first place after a draw in their opening match and four straight wins. With Alex Morgan and Christine Sinclair leading the offense it seemed as though the Thorns would be tough to beat all year. Then they came home last night for the first time in nearly a month to play New Jersey's Sky Blue FC.

From the beginning Sky Blue was more aggressive and had more chances. Their defense, led by US National Team veteran Christie Rampone, contained Morgan and Sinclair and didn't allow many easy shots at Sky Blue goalkeeper Brittany Cameron. In the midfield the visitors were even more dominant. Portland has not been the sharpest passing team and it showed last night. The Thorns weren't able to string passes together so they couldn't create openings for their attackers. When they did get forward their first move was to try long balls for Morgan to run onto. Morgan is an excellent asset for Portland to have but they need more ideas in the attack to be successful against better teams. As someone pointed out to me after the game last night there was a lot of waiting for the stars to do something. That may work at some levels or against some teams, but

In the second half Portland was a little better, partly due to Danielle Foxhoven coming on as a sub, but Sky Blue was still getting better chances. Finally, in the 80th minute, substitute Taylor Lytle found an opening at the top of the penalty area and lifted a shot over Karina Leblanc for the winning goal. Portland had a few shots on goal late but couldn't find the equalizer and left with their first loss of the season.

Even with the loss, Portland is still tied for first place with Sky Blue. The Thorns have a good collection of players, but a long list of improvements as well. One of the main points to take away from last night was that while the Thorns have started well, their four wins came against the three bottom teams in the league and covered up Portland's weaknesses. The loss also was a kind of wake up call for Thorns fans who might expect wins every time. As great teams know, however, to win every game you have to be ready every game. Portland still has plenty of time and plenty of great players to make the changes they need to make.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Today's SPORTS ??? 5/16/2013

What is your favorite sport to watch on TV and why? Please comment in comment section.

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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Portland Soccer, May 14, 2013

One of the parts I enjoy about sports is watching players develop and improve over the years. This has been especially true of the Timbers under Caleb Porter. Looking at some of the returning players this year, it seemed like the Timbers may not be much better because they hadn't contributed much to date. This year, however, there have been many pleasant surprises. For me no one has completely turned around his game more than Rodney Wallace. 

He started the Timbers' first MLS match in 2011 as a left back and that was his primary position for that first year. From the beginning it was clear he wasn't playing well there but John Spencer, Portland's coach at the time, didn't have many options. In 2012 he started playing in midfield a little, and he showed some promise. The lineup changed too much last year for him to get used to playing there, however. 

This season, under Porter, Wallace has become an invaluable part of the attack. He tied the game late in Seattle after coming in as a sub, which, combined with his goal that saved a draw at home to Seattle in September 2012 made him something of a hero to Timbers fans. By April 6 against Houston he had earned a spot in the starting lineup and scored the winning goal at Kansas City, a result that gained the attention of the rest of the league. Sunday against Chivas USA, Wallace continued his turnaround. After the Timbers had come close several times (including a shot off the crossbar by Diego Valeri after a fantastic series of passes by the team), Wallace collected a ball down the left side, settled it with his head, and chipped it over goalkeeper Patrick McClain for the first goal 34 minutes in. 

Of course, given the draws in the last two games the Timbers were looking for more goals. No matter the opponent there's always the risk of one mistake turning three points for a win into one for a draw. The Timbers did what they've done so well all year, pressuring the ball whenever they didn't have it and using their passing skill to look for openings in the Chivas defense. Finally, with 20 minutes to go, Wallace found Valeri unmarked (and onside, thanks to Chivas' inattention) in the penalty area for an easy goal. As if that wasn't enough, Will Johnson brought the game to a perfect end with a spectacular curving shot from the top of the penalty area with the last shot of the game. After two games in which the Timbers were unfortunate not to win the 3-0 score was completely fitting for the home side as they were dominant throughout. 

With the win the Timbers move into second place in the Western Conference by themselves, and continued to show they really are a top team. With the continued improvement of players such as Wallace there will be more big wins to come. 

Today's SPORTS ???? 5/14/2013

Are the Miami Heat a lock to win the championship and who is their biggest hurdle?

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Please answer in comment section.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Today's SPORTS ???? 5/13/2013

Do you like Sergio Garcia or do you dislike Sergio?

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Sunday, May 12, 2013

Today's SPORTS ???? 5/12/2013

Happy Mother's Day

Do you think Sacramento should get to keep the Kings, or does the big from Seattle merit relocation?

For more on this, please read , Craw's Sports Business Weekend, (5/12/2013)

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Saturday, May 11, 2013

Today's SPORTS ???? 5/11/2013

Is it fair to suspend and fine Major League umpires when they miss a call?

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Thursday, May 9, 2013

Portland Soccer, May 9 2013

These are new times for the Portland Timbers. Last year their first game in Dallas ended in a 1-1 draw and most fans were happy. Last night their only trip to Dallas (their only trip at all to Texas) was also a 1-1 score but there was a fair amount of anger and disappointment. A draw is not the result the team wanted, to be sure, but I'm certainly not going to be angry about going to the first place team in the conference and leaving with a point. The Timbers did well enough to earn a result of some kind and they got it.

When Darlington Nagbe forced Rodney Wallace's cross inside the near post in the 70th minute it seemed as though the result would be a win. To that point the Timbers had more or less matched Dallas on offense and defense. The center back pairing of Futty Danso and Andrew Jean-Baptiste weren't exactly playing textbook defense, but they were holding their own against the likes of Fabian Castillo, Blas Perez, and Kenny Cooper. They were also helped out by the continued hard work of Diego Chara, who made several excellent tackles at critical times. Each team had hit the post and each keeper, Donovan Ricketts for Portland and Raul Fernandez for Dallas, had excellent saves. In all, the match was very entertaining and back-and-forth throughout.

Unfortunately, just seven minutes after scoring the game turned around for Dallas. Jean-Baptiste and Perez were holding onto each other's shirts, fighting for position in the penalty area. It was the kind of play that happens many times every match, and usually there's no foul call. For some reason, however, referee Juan Guzman felt there was something different about this play, called the foul on Jean-Baptiste, and awarded Dallas a penalty kick. Kenny Cooper scored to tie the game and give each team a point.

It was unfortunate that the tying goal came after a controversial call, but the Timbers did many things well. If they had converted one more of their opportunities they would have had a huge road win, bigger than their win at Kansas City since Dallas is a Western Conference opponent. If Portland comes out Sunday against Chivas USA and plays with the same energy, and you would think they wouldn't be happy with not being able to close out a game, they'll have another win.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Portland Soccer, May 7, 2013

Normally one point from two games would not be a very good weekend for the Timbers. On May 2 they played the New England Revolution to a 0-0 draw. While the Timbers had many more chances and lots of Timbers had good games they weren't able to find a goal. New England, to its credit, came in with a plan of staying back to defend and they did it well enough for a point. These kinds of nights will happen to even the best teams. It's a sign of how far the Timbers have come that neither the team nor the fans were satisfied after the game. Portland approaches every game as if they can win it, thanks to the new attitude coach Caleb Porter has brought this year.

All the attitude in the world, however, could not prepare the Timbers for their game the day before. They faced the Green Machine of Mt. Tabor Soccer Club, a team of 8-year-olds, on a sunny afternoon. Atticus Lane-Dupre, captain of the Green Machine and cancer survivor, chose a game against his favorite team, the Timbers, as his wish from the Make-A-Wish Foundation. It may have been in the middle of the day but many fans of the Green Machine, about 3,000 in all, came to see the big game against the Timbers. Portland was not taking their opponents lightly, however, with a starting lineup that included the likes of Mikael Silvestre, Darlington Nagbe, and Will Johnson among others. 

The Green Machine opened the scoring early, with Atticus tallying the first goal. The match was a tense, back-and-forth affair, with the Timbers coming back several times. In the final minute the Timbers tied it at 9-9. The Green Machine had one last chance. Who better to look to than their leader, Atticus, for a moment of brilliance? His run through the entire Timbers team, capped off with a fantastic shot through the legs of Sebastian Rincon, lifted his team to a 10-9 win with the last kick of the game. The stadium, full of more Green Machine fans than Timbers supporters this time, celebrated with their team as the Timbers could only admit their opponents were the better team that day. 

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Today's SPORTS ???? 5/5/2013

What level of baseball do you like watching the most? From Single A to major leagues and please tell why?

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Saturday, May 4, 2013

Today's SPORTS ???? 5/4/2013

Who is your biggest surprise in major league baseball so far?

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Thursday, May 2, 2013

Today's SPORTS ????? 5/2/2013

Damian Lillard has a wonderful rookie season, how do you see his career progressing?

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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Portland Soccer, April 30, 2013

The Timbers got off to a good start this season under new coach Caleb Porter. Most fans would agree on that. What was still a question until Saturday's game was whether that success could last the entire season. With Portland's win at Kansas City the Timbers showed the rest of the league they are going to be tough to beat at home or on the road.

Sporting Kansas City is one of the best teams in the league and they play in front of some of the best fans outside Portland. When they scored just 40 seconds into the match it seemed to remind the Timbers and their fans this was going to be a difficult night. Where Timbers teams of the past might not have recovered from an early blow, however, this year's squad settled down and went about the business of finding the tying goal. In the 24th minute they nearly had it when Rodney Wallace's shot was just tipped out by Jimmy Nielsen for a corner kick (and credit to Darlington Nagbe for winning the ball and making the pass to Wallace). It wouldn't be the last we would hear from Wallace, however, and KC's shutout didn't last much longer, as Ryan Johnson jumped the highest to head Diego Valeri's corner kick toward the goal. Benny Feilhaber deflected the ball into the net but the ball would have gone in either way and the match was tied 1-1. 

Portland would find themselves down a goal again after 29 minutes, however, when KC turned a free kick into a nice passing sequence that ended with Chase Myers' second goal of the game. After being down a goal for the second time in the first half the Timbers tied the game for the second time in the 33rd minute. Will Johnson won the ball in his own half and played it to Ryan Johnson, who held it up for Wallace. Wallace then  passed to Valeri at the halfway line and Valeri played a long ball to Ryan Johnson, by now running at the goal with one KC defender on him. His cross to Nagbe was tapped in and the Timbers had tied the score again. This goal was a perfect illustration of what has changed this season: quick passes around the midfield, ending with a well-placed ball to a player who can make a run at goal. Nagbe gets credit for the goal but nearly half the team was involved in it. 

A 2-2 draw against the likes of KC would have been a good result but the Timbers were thinking bigger in the second half, and their hard work paid off with just about half an hour to go. After Michael Harrington's pressure on the ball led to Diego Chara winning it, he found Wallace with an excellent through ball, and Wallace calmly put away the winning goal. A couple of nice Donovan Ricketts saves late in the game and the Timbers had probably the biggest win in their MLS history. If not for some defensive issues on set pieces the score would have been 3-0. In any event, Portland got the win they deserved and showed they can compete with any team in the league. 

Today's SPORTS ???? 4/30/2013

What is the one sporting event you would love to see, that you have never been too?

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Monday, April 29, 2013

Today's SPORTS ??? 4/29/2013

Your feelings on the relocation committee of the NBA voting to keep the Kings in Sacramento and not move to Seattle?

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Sunday, April 28, 2013

Today's SPORTS ???? 4/28/2013

Who is the best executive in sports, any sport and why?

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Saturday, April 27, 2013

Today's SPORTS ???? 4/27/2013

Would you like to see Phil Jackson return to the NBA and in what capacity?

Thanks for answering, Greg Crawford,

Friday, April 26, 2013

Today's SPORTS ???? 4/26/2013

Do you think LeBron James will finish his career with the Miami Heat?

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Thursday, April 25, 2013

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Today's SPORTS ????? 4/24/2013

Today's SPORTS ????. please answer and comment, "Who will win the NBA Championship in 2013 and why?"

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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Portland Soccer, April 23, 2013

Sunday marked the first home game in the history of the Portland Thorns FC, and for Thorns fans the day did not disappoint. Portland defeated Seattle Reign FC 2-1 in front of 16,479. A huge crowd was expected but I don't think many fans of women's soccer would have dreamed of that large an attendance when the current league was created. This is a wonderful show of support for women's soccer. The city of Portland has once again shown that they appreciate soccer at every level, men's and women's, and I am happy and proud to have been a small part of it.

The Thorns supporters group, the Rose City Riveters, unveiled a wonderful tifo display just before kickoff, which covered most of the general admission sections at the north end of the stadium. They also were loud and involved throughout the match. After many Timbers supporters wondered how the Thorns supporters group would turn out I think they showed they're off to a strong start. 

As for the game itself Portland was the better team throughout, though Seattle had some chances as well. After a first half spent trying to break through the Seattle defense Portland opened the scoring just before the clock hit 45:00. Nikki Washington sent a free kick into the penalty area and Marian Dougherty flicked the ball back with a very nice header to give the Thorns their first goal. Portland came out even better in the second half, with Christine Sinclair finding Alex Morgan running at the goal. Morgan, one of the best players in the world, finished her shot easily for a 2-0 lead after 52 minutes. The Reign did get a goal back on a nice play from Jessica Fishlock in the 76th, but otherwise Portland played better than Seattle and sent their fans home very happy. It's only one game but it was a very good sign for women's professional soccer in America. 

Watching live I was impressed with the improvement from last week's opening match in Kansas City. Sinclair and Morgan are two of the best players in the world and they were much more involved Sunday. Sinclair played more as a midfielder and thus had the ball much more than in the first game. From this position she was much more dangerous as she was able to pass or keep the ball herself, and she can score goals doing both. Morgan showed why she is a player you can't help but watch whenever she gets near the ball. She's quick, athletic, and can take shots out of seemingly impossible angles. Aside from her goal Dougherty also contributed to a good day from the Portland defense. Washington's speed was very impressive to see in person and Allie Long had an excellent work rate, doing the important job of winning the ball in midfield. The more the team plays together the better they're going to be, and they're already looking good. 

craw's corner: Today's SPORTS ????/ 4/23/2013

craw's corner: Today's SPORTS ????/ 4/23/2013: What sport has the best playoff system and why? Please discuss below in the comment section. Thank you----Greg Crawford,

Today's SPORTS ????/ 4/23/2013

What sport has the best playoff system and why? Please discuss below in the comment section. Thank you----Greg Crawford,

Sunday, April 21, 2013

craw's corner: Today's SPORTS ?????? 4/21/2013

craw's corner: Today's SPORTS ?????? 4/21/2013: Starting today, April 21st and everyday of the week except Monday,'s Greg Crawford and creator of this blog, will bring you th...

Today's SPORTS ?????? 4/21/2013

Starting today, April 21st and everyday of the week except Monday,'s Greg Crawford and creator of this blog, will bring you the sports question of the day. It is your chance to sound off and comment, love the opinion of sports fans. So here we go with our first ever question.

Who is your favorite athlete of all time and why?

Thanks in advance for commenting, Greg Crawford, College Basketball and Golf Insider for

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Portland Soccer, April 16, 2013

It was a busy weekend for Portland soccer teams as both the Thorns and Timbers played.

First, on Saturday, the Thorns and FC Kansas City played to a 1-1 draw in the first ever game in NWSL history. The attendance at Shawnee Mission District Stadium in Overland Park, Kansas was 6,784, an excellent show of support for women's soccer.

Kansas City scored the first goal of the game, and the first in NWSL history, in the third minute. After a defensive mistake by Portland Renae Cuellar picked up a through ball and shot past Thorns keeper Karine LeBlanc. The remainder of the half was somewhat even, with both teams having stretches of control. In the second half, Danielle Foxhoven came on as a sub in the 64th and two minutes later was fouled in the penalty area (it appeared to be a foul on the replay). Another Pilot, Christine Sinclair, made the penalty kick for the 1-1 final score.

Though both teams obviously wanted to win the result looked like a fair one the way the teams played. Portland wasn't able to get their star forwards, Alex Morgan and Christine Sinclair, very involved. The midfield tended to hit long balls to the forwards instead of giving them the ball at their feet. It was also apparent the first team hadn't been playing together very much in the preseason. Four of the starters (Morgan, Rachel Buehler, Sinclair, and LeBlanc) were away with their national teams for part of training camp. Passes missed their target and players made runs that their teammates weren't expecting. Coach Cindy Parlow Cone can now see all the things she needs to work on with the team this week as they prepare for the home opener with Seattle on April 21st.

The next night the Timbers faced the San Jose Earthquakes at home. San Jose won the Supporters Shield as the best team in the regular season last year and was expected to be strong again. They're also known as a strong, physical team and it showed Sunday. The Earthquakes' defense was strong enough to keep the Timbers from breaking through and scoring despite having numerous chances. San Jose's style finally caught up to them in the 69th minute as Alan Gordon was sent off for receiving his second caution of the night. Portland still needed a goal, though. In the 78th minute team captain Will Johnson provided it from an excellent free kick that he curled around the wall and past goalkeeper Jon Busch. The goal was enough for the Timbers' second straight win, which moved them into third place in the Western Conference.

The Timbers have improved with each game since their loss to Montreal the second week of the season. A big part of that is the improvement of the defense, especially Mikael Silvestre. He struggled early in the season but the past two games he has been excellent, always in position and making good passes to the midfield. The rest of the team has become tougher mentally and physically as well. It's still early but if the Timbers can go on the road to San Jose next Sunday and win or draw it would almost be time to say the Timbers are for real.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

International Baseball: Miami Marlins Are Worst Team in the MLB

Even though, we are just 10 games through the major league baseball season, I think we know who the worst team in the majors is. No it's not the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and it's no not the San Diego Padres. It's the Miami Marlins, the team that has the brand new stadium and a Triple AAA lineup. I do not want to sound like I am bashing them because I leave that to the fans but the Marlins front office did this to themselves when they decided to gut their whole nucleus in a trade with the Toronto Blue Jays.

The Marlins traded away Jose Reyes, Emilio Bonifacio, Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, and John Buck all to the Blue Jays in the offseason. What did the Marlins get in return? Not a lot of talent in my eyes and in the baseball world's eyes. They acquired infielders Yunel Escobar and Adeiny Hechavarria, pitchers Henderson Alvarez, Anthony DeSclafani, and Justin Nicolino, catcher Jeff Mathis and outfielder Jake Marisnick. You know who was furious about this trade right fielder and superstar Giancarlo Stanton. Many people thought that he might be traded to during the offseason too and there still is a possibly that can during the season.

If you are wondering how those players the Marlins acquired are doing, some of them aren't even with the team anymore. Yunel Escobar is now playing with the Tampa Bay Rays, Adeiny Hechavarria is still with the team but batting a horrible .167, pitcher Henderson Alvarez hasn't pitched yet this season, and Jeff Mathis is on the 15 day disabled list.

It's a shame that this kind of trade is allowed in major league baseball, it not only hurts major league baseball but it hurts the loyal devoted Marlins fans. Do you think they want to pay to see this kind of product on the field? No. The Marlins are currently 1-9 this season and are currently on a six game losing streak, with Giancarlo Stanton being injured right now. The only positive thing Marlins fans can look forward to is the home debut of rookie pitcher Jose Fernandez tonight versus the Philadelphia Phillies.

Fernandez, who is 20 years old, was drafted by the Marlins back in the first round of the 2011 MLB Draft with the 14th pick. This season Fernandez has a 0-1 record but a 1.80 ERA with eight strikeouts. This might be the only bright spot for this team as the Marlins are looking more like a Triple AAA team and not a major league baseball team.

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Thursday, April 11, 2013

Portland Soccer, April 11, 2013

There's a busy weekend coming up for the professional clubs in Portland. Saturday night the Thorns make their debut on the road at Kansas City. The game starts at 5:35 Portland time and is available to watch online at Home games will also be broadcast on AM 970. It's good to see long-time Portland sports broadcaster Ann Schatz will be around to call the games. She'll be joined by analyst Angela Harrison, who played goalkeeper for the Pilots from 1996-1999. She's been broadcasting Pilots games and her soccer knowledge and passion for the game was very apparent to anyone who watched. The Thorns made a great decision there. 

Meanwhile, the Timbers will be at home Sunday night to face the San Jose Earthquakes. San Jose won the Supporters Shield as the team with the best regular season record in MLS last year. Most of their team returns, including one of the top forwards in the league, Chris Wondolowski. This will be another tough test for Portland, like Houston was last week. 

Following up from last week's game, we learned more about the injuries to David Horst and Diego Valeri. Horst suffered a fracture at the top of his leg and will be out 4-6 months, which likely ends his season. The loss of Horst leaves the Timbers with a depth problem at center back. Mikael Silvestre is now assured of being a starter and his partner is likely to be second-year player Andrew Jean-Baptiste. Jean-Baptiste is still young and needs some more work but I think he'll do all right with veteran teammates in the other back line positions. After Jean-Baptiste, however, the Timbers have rookie Dylan Tucker-Gangnes, then Futty Danso, who has not made the game day roster all year and seems to be out of favor. Then there's Hanyer Mosquera who was back home in Colombia the last time anybody heard from him, so his days as a Timber appear to be numbered. In short, the Timbers are down to three regular center backs. This could be an area in which they make a trade.  

Valeri has been going through a set of tests any MLS player who suffers a possible concussion must go through in order to be cleared to play again. Depending on his condition he could be back Sunday but of course his health should come first, and concussions these days are treated as the serious injuries they are. If he can't play someone else in the midfield will have to fill the role of playmaker. Kalif Alhassan did well when he replaced Valeri and Rodney Wallace and Darlington Nagbe have turned out to be significantly improved so the Timbers may still be all right in the midfield. 

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Portland Soccer, April 9, 2013

The Portland Timbers have played well at times this season, but in Saturday's 2-0 victory over the Houston Dynamo they went to the next level and played the best second half in their time as an MLS team.

The best part to me was that they did it after a first half that couldn't have gotten much worse. They didn't give up a goal but they lost two key players. Center back David Horst went down awkwardly chasing a ball and looked to suffer a serious leg or knee injury. Andrew Jean-Baptiste came in for him. Later Diego Valeri was elbowed in the head and went out as he appeared to have a concussion and Kalif Alhassan was Portland's second substitution. Down two starters in the first half to a physical Houston team could have been a recipe for a long night. I thought the Timbers would spend the rest of the game just trying to avoid giving up a goal.

Portland has had a track record this season of strong second halves, however, and they continued that against Houston. Diego Chara, who spent more time in the central midfield where he thrives, worked a nice passing combination with Darlington Nagbe which ended with Chara running down the right side to the goal line. His cross was met at the far post by Ryan Johnson. Johnson got the ball on goal with his shin or knee, Houston goalkeeper Tally Hall couldn't hang on, and the Timbers had taken the lead in the 55th minute.

Instead of sitting back and protecting the lead, Portland kept attacking after the first goal. Their approach paid off in the 73rd minute. Nagbe picked off the ball at the top of his own penalty area, starting a series of passes through the midfield that ended with Nagbe's through ball to Ryan Johnson on the left. Johnson took the ball into the penalty area for a 1v1 with Hall and calmly finished inside the far post for his second goal of the game and a 2-0 lead for Portland. Johnson demonstrated a scoring instinct that Portland's forwards of the past two years haven't always had. On the first goal he was able to put away an excellent cross, as a good forward should. On his second he didn't get excited about having a clear scoring chance. He saw where the keeper was and used his skill to pick out and make the shot he wanted. I think he's the striker Portland has been looking for.

A two-goal lead was more than enough the way the Timbers defense, especially center back Mikael Silvestre and emergency sub Jean-Baptiste, played Saturday. The first career MLS win for Caleb Porter and the Timbers' first win of 2013 was well deserved as the Timbers outplayed the Dynamo in every aspect.

What I liked the most about this win was the way the Timbers responded when things didn't go their way in the first half. The loss of two starters against a team as good as Houston was a major blow, but Portland fought back and earned a dominant win. Not only has Porter changed the team's strategy, just as importantly he's changed the attitude. Both qualities will be important to their success now and in the future.

Big Thanks To Talented Writers

I want to give a big thanks to Seth Hunt and Jovan C. Alford for their great work on this blog.

Of course, Seth covers soccer, twice per week on Tuesday and Thursday, Jovan writes a column on baseball once per week.

I will also be adding sports business snapshots each day starting soon, so there is lots of good stuff to read here. We are also thinking of adding a football writer, bowling and much more. So if you have some talent, please feel free to contribute, just send me an email at

Also always go to for my latest news on college basketball, golf and sports business, as well as the rest of our great team led by Dwight Jaynes and Chris Haynes.

Thanks and keep reading, as well as you can go to for all the latest on the NBA, D-League and high school basketball.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Portland Soccer, April 4, 2013

The Timbers are back at home this Saturday night as they host the Houston Dynamo at Jeld-Wen Field. Houston is off to a good start, with nine points in four games. This is just the start of a tough month of April for the Timbers, as they also have two games atgainst San Jose, who had the best record in MLS last year, and a game at Kansas City. The Timbers have yet to win in their first four games and although they're improving they will need to keep playing well to get many points out of this stretch.

The Timbers have an even bigger game coming up on the 1st of May, however. That afternoon they will face the Green Machine. You may not have heard of this team, but it's led by a young man named Atticus. He's 8 years old and last year learned he had cancer and missed the last game of the season. Now that he's feeling better the Make-A-Wish Foundation has arranged for he and his team to play the Timbers. So, if you can come to Jeld-Wen Field at noon on May 1, you're sure to see a great game.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

International Baseball: The MLB is Back

Hello and welcome to my first international baseball column. I hope you enjoy reading this every week as I try to bring good baseball knowledge from the majors, minor leagues, and even internationally. But to begin my first column, I want to talk about the MLB being back! Sunday night was Opening Night for major league baseball as the Houston Astros took on the Texas Rangers but yesterday was the real kickoff to the baseball season as it was Opening Day across many cities and stadiums.

It is exciting to see the MLB back up and running because this season is different like no other. For the first time in awhile there will be no more interleague play. You might ask yourself well why there isn't no interleague play anymore. Since, the Houston Astros moved from the NL Central to the AL West beginning this season. Bud Selig and the rest of the MLB decided to just integrate interleague play throughout the whole season.

We saw the first evidence of that yesterday as the Los Angeles of Anaheim took on the Cincinnati Reds. With that game you saw a great pitching matchup between Jered Weaver (LAA) and Johnny Cueto (CIN) and you will get great pitching matchups like this throughout the season. Another reason, why I'm excited for this baseball season is the parity between all 30 major league teams. Now, we know the Miami Marlins gutted their roster, but the Toronto Blue Jays made themselves better by acquiring great pitching in the offseason and the Kansas City Royals did the same thing. You also have teams such as Pittsburgh Pirates, who many people think could be their season to make the playoffs.

Just thinking about all these things makes me excited for the Major League Baseball season and you should be too. I hope you all stay along and enjoy the ride of this international baseball column that I will bring to you each week.

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Monday, April 1, 2013

Portland Soccer, April 2, 2013

It was a busy Saturday for Portland soccer fans, with a lot of good and some bad. 

The afternoon started with the Timbers on the road at Colorado. The Rapids were missing several key players with injuries and suspensions and had just one point, with a 0-3-1 record. Although the Timbers had been outscored 9-1 in their three prior visits this was a good opportunity for them to earn a win on the road. 

The way they played in the first half, Portland wasn't nearly good enough to win the game. The goal they gave up was an excellent long-distance strike from Dillon Powers in the 18th minute. There was some luck and he placed the shot well, but Jack Jewsbury could have closed him down and goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts could have moved back to get a better angle on the shot. Even if they hadn't conceded the Timbers weren't very dangerous at all to start the game. They appeared more disorganized in the midfield than they had before. There was almost no link to the forwards and thus no great scoring chances to speak of in the first half. 

Portland's chances at a positive result took a near-fatal blow just three minutes into the second half when Diego Chara tripped Tony Cascio in the penalty area. It didn't look like a good call at first but the replay shows it probably was. Hendry Thomas made the penalty for a 2-0 Rapids lead. 

Once the pressure was truly on the Timbers refocused on getting a quick goal. At the 55 minute mark the Timbers finally broke through what was not a very good Colorado defense. Ryan Johnson found Will Johnson about 10 yards out for a header inside the near post. Portland would have a little over half an hour to tie the game. In the 71st minute they finally would when David Horst was knocked down going after a corner kick and Will Johnson scored on the penalty kick for his second goal of the game. The Timbers had come back from two goals down to earn a point, so in that sense it was a very good effort. But they should have done better and beaten a weak opponent. Their games in the month of April are going to be very tough and they'll need to improve to beat any of the teams they'll face. 

Later that night the Portland Thorns made their debut in a preseason match against the University of Portland Pilots. The Thorns were missing four of their top players as the US and Canadian national team members were away preparing for international matches. Still, a capacity crowd at Merlo Field saw the Thorns come from behind to win 2-1. 

What I found encouraging from reading impressions of the game was that the Pilots were not completely overmatched against the professionals. In fact many people were impressed by the Pilot defense and how they were able to absorb the pressure from the Thorns. If they can play this well against the Thorns I think the Pilots are in for a very good season this fall. They return all but two players from last year and are bringing in a highly rated class of recruits, so I'm excited and can't wait until the season starts August 23. 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Portland Soccer, March 28, 2013

As we wait for the Timbers to play their second road game of the season, at Colorado on Saturday afternoon, I also am thinking ahead to next week. The Timbers return home with a game against Houston on Saturday, April 6, and two night earlier there will be a unique, memorable event.

"Beating Seattle Never Gets Old" will feature past Timbers players and footage of old Timbers matches, live at the Hollywood Theater. Timbers greats such as Bernie Fagan, Roger Goldingay, Mick Hoban, Bill Irwin, Jimmy Kelly, and Willie Anderson are scheduled to appear in person to talk about the matches being shown on screen. The price to see all these men together is just $12 in advance and tickets are available here. As a fellow Timbers fan pointed out to me, this is a very rare, probably once-in-a-lifetime chance to learn so much Timbers history directly from those who made it. I hope this event sells out because these players laid the foundation for Portland soccer and if you support the Timbers you really need to see and hear from them if you possibly can.

Even better, the proceeds from this event will go to help make sure soccer in Portland continues. Bless Field  will be in the New Columbia housing community in North Portland and is going to be a place where boys and girls from around the world can play soccer year round. When I was younger I played baseball and basketball, but I support any sport kids can play. I had fun and learned things by playing sports and I want to make sure children have the same chances I did. That's why I enjoy volunteering with Pitch Invasion (the group building Bless Field), and why I immediately decided to go to this event. You get to see Timbers legends, Pitch Invasion gets closer to building a new field. Everyone gets something positive out of it.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Portland Soccer, March 26, 2013

The Portland Pilots women's soccer team continued their spring season Friday by defeating the Canadian U-20 national team 4-0. The first half ended with no score after both teams had decent spells of possession. Towards the end of the half Portland had a corner kick that led to three shots at the goal but couldn't score. It appeared that the Pilots were ready to break through in the second.

In the 51st minute Kayla Cameli got free down the left side. She picked out Micaela Capelle with a through ball to the edge of the penalty area. Capelle rounded the Canada goalkeeper for an easy finish. In the 64th Capelle took the ball down the goal line and sent in a cross for Ellen Parker, who was unmarked at the near post and tapped in from six yards to make the score 2-0. In the 73rd Parker provided an assist for Cameli, who put in a shot underneath the keeper for Portland's third, and Capelle closed the scoring in the 84th by scoring from a very tight angle after running into the penalty area from a wide position.

Beyond the score there were a lot of things for Portland fans to be happy about. The Pilots looked strong at every position, as they should be with so many key players returning. The center back pairing of Lorielle McCluskie and Sarah Bindl were very strong and I would love to see them as the starters in the fall. They and the rest of the defense looks to have made great strides since last season. In midfield the Pilots have the speed and skill for which they're so well known. Ellen Parker was great in the center of the field Friday and should be very dangerous. The forwards haven't missed a beat either, and Micaela Capelle and Amanda Frisbie are both seniors and both are excellent finishers.

It was nice to see the Pilots back on the field, and very nice to see they should be one of the top college teams around in the fall. Saturday night they'll get a chance to take on some of the world's best as they take on the Thorns in an exhibition at Merlo Field.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Portland soccer, March 21, 2013

Just a quick post this time as the Timbers have the week off. Time to talk a little about women's soccer. Friday night at 6:00, the Portland Pilots women's team will play the Canadian U-20 Women's National Team at Merlo Field. This would probably be a good game to go watch since tickets are just $5 and this should be a very good matchup.

You will see some of the Canadian players on the senior national team in a few years, as well as in NWSL, playing for the Thorns and the other teams in the league. As for the Pilots, they return all but two starters from last year's team that went to its 13th consecutive NCAA tournament. I'm very excited to see them again  because yet again, they're going to be one of the top teams in the nation, and right in the middle of the WCC title race.

Next Saturday the Timbers are on the road in Colorado at 3:00. Later that night, the Pilots host the Thorns at 6:00 in a game that most fans knew was probably going to happen. Now the announcement is official and Christine Sinclair, Danielle Foxhoven, and Angie Kerr, who all played college soccer at Portland, will be returning to Merlo Field as professionals. The best part is admission is free with a suggested donation to charity. Even with no Timbers games in Portland, there's plenty of good soccer to watch live these next couple weeks.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Portland Soccer, March 19, 2013

The Portland-Seattle rivalry has quickly become one of the biggest games in MLS. Saturday was the first of three meetings this season between the two clubs and I would say it lived up to the expectations. There was plenty of good play throughout, with nervous moments for both teams and a dramatic finish.

Overall I'd call the match pretty even. Portland tried to work their passing game but the Seattle midfield and defense was solid most of the game. Central defenders Jhon Kennedy Hurtado and Djimi Traore had very good games. In the midfield Osvaldo Alonso had a huge game, as he usually does. I'm going to confess, if I could take one player on Seattle and put him on Portland's roster it would be Alonso in a heartbeat. He can take the ball away from anyone in MLS, his passing is excellent, and he keeps their midfield organized.

That being said, Portland has a decent midfield, which made Seattle's goal all the more surprising. In the 13th minute Diego Chara attempted a poor pass to Ben Zemanski. Seattle's Steve Zakuani intercepted it easily and ran down the left side of the field. He put in a perfect cross for Eddie Johnson, who had no problem finishing at close range. I have to ask why Andrew Jean-Baptiste didn't run with Johnson, leaving the forward alone against the keeper, but the big error was by Chara. It was shocking to see such a costly mistake from such a normally reliable player.

Following the goal the Sounders had the momentum but eventually Portland pulled itself together and by halftime the teams looked evenly matched. Most of the second half went by without much of a threat from Portland but with about two minutes to go Ryan Johnson's shot was deflected over the net. Not long after, Jean-Baptiste received a throw-in near the goal line on the right side and sent a cross to Rodney Wallace at the far post, who made it 1-1 as the clock hit 90:00. I keep hearing it was a stoppage-time goal but I'm positive it was in the net before that. In any case, four minutes of added time later the Timbers left Seattle with a hard-earned point. Rodney Wallace has had his share of criticism from many Timbers fans, myself included, for his shortcomings as a defender the past two seasons. However, when used in the midfield he's been better, and this makes two years in a row his goal has given the Timbers a draw against Seattle (he did it at home last September, on a header, coincidentally).

As one of the 810 fans in the Timbers Army section I think I speak for most all of us when I can say there were a lot of emotions at the final whistle. There was the joy at scoring a big goal at the very end of the game, and relief at getting a point when it looked like the Timbers might not get it done. Later that night, watching the replay of the goal on my computer I felt a sense of disbelief it had really happened. I try to look at things rationally when I watch games but still, soccer is a very emotional game. The good feelings of Saturday will always stay with me longer than anything I feel after bad losses.

Looking at the bigger picture a draw on the road is almost always a good result in soccer, and the Timbers did many things well. The defense especially was much better than it had been the first two weeks. Portland now has the weekend off as it prepares for its next game, at Colorado, where they have yet to score a point in three visits. Perhaps that will change now that Portland knows it can do well away from home.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Portland Soccer, March 12, 2013

If the Timbers' season opener got fans excited about the possibilities for the season, their second game, a 2-1 loss to the Montreal Impact, showed there is still a good deal of work for the team to do.

Montreal had a few good scoring chances because of poor marking by the Timbers' defense. If not for some off-target shots and a good save by Donovan Ricketts the Impact could easily have scored a goal or two earlier than they finally did, in the 30th minute. Andrea Pisanu sent a free kick into the penalty area that Portland couldn't clear. Instead Matteo Ferrari was able to send the ball across to Hassoun Camara, who scored on I have to admit was an excellent overhead kick. Given their success breaking through the Timbers' defense to that point it was entirely fair for the Impact to take a 1-0 lead into halftime.

Montreal came into the game with a plan to stay back on defense and prevent Portland from using emphasis on possession to its advantage. By keeping so many players back they denied Portland's midfield the time and space to make passes toward the goal. Too often someone like Diego Valeri or Darlington Nagbe had the ball near the top of the penalty area, but was covered well and had no one to pass to and couldn't make a run at the goal.

The second half went much like the first. Portland kept the ball for extended periods but couldn't make many chances out of them, while Montreal scored a second goal after taking advantage of a misplaced pass and defensive errors. Will Johnson's pass was picked off by Patrice Bernier, who sent a perfect pass downfield to Andres Romero. The Timbers' defense didn't follow Felipe, who was running to the near post and easily put away Romero's cross. In a matter of seconds, but Portland was down 2-0.

Portland would get one goal back after finally changing their strategy a little and going for longer passes to stretch out the Impact's defense. Ryan Johnson tapped in a cross from Ben Zemanski, who got the ball at the  top corner of the penalty area from a well placed Diego Chara pass. Longer passes like the two that led to the goal would probably have been effective against Montreal but the Timbers took too long to start doing this, and in the end couldn't get a second goal.

The main thing to take away from this game is that there is a relatively simple plan to follow when playing the Timbers. If you have a disciplined defense willing to sit back and let Portland hold onto the ball, then take advantage on the counterattack, you can come away with a draw or win. Now we'll see if Caleb Porter makes the adjustments necessary to earn his first MLS win.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Portland Soccer, March 7, 2013

I've been going to Timbers games since 2009, watching from the Timbers Army section the entire time I've been a supporter. This was the first season after it was announced Portland would be joining MLS in 2011. As you can imagine, many things have changed since then.

Back when I started the Timbers Army filled about three sections with supporters who would actively participate. There were always decent sized crowds but the only times we filled the entire stadium were the US Open Cup games against Seattle in 2009 and 2010, and the final regular season home game in 2010. I never imagined the entire stadium would be full for every league game for the next two years.

Now Portland has just started its third season in MLS, and watching the replay of the opening match it's amazing to hear how loud the Timbers Army is, and how much energy they bring now that the entire North End of the stadium is filled. And it got that way because since it started in 2001, the supporters who founded the Timbers Army didn't settle for "good enough." They kept thinking bigger, and working harder. They kept reaching out until they filled two rows of Section 107, then five rows, then half the section, then the entire section. But that wasn't good enough.

As new members joined, they saw how the TA was built by people putting in the time to make the group better. People saw what needed to be done and jumped in to help, whether it was making banners, organizing early away trips, or spreading the word about the Timbers and the TA. This volunteer spirit continues to this day. A case in point is how the flag crew I'm part of came about. Midway through the 2011 season we all answered a call for volunteers to help put out flags before games. Two of the ladies on the crew took the initiative to start taking them home to wash and repair the ones in need of care. They did this because they saw where help was needed and offered it.

The TA has never settled on "good enough" when it comes to tifo displays. The one of Timber Jim cutting down the Space Needle in 2009 was excellent, but in the MLS era the TA does several displays of that scale each season. We did three large banners that covered most of the Timbers Army sections for the first MLS game in Portland. That was good, but the TA always thinks bigger. For the 2012 opener we involved the whole stadium. This season we used umbrellas as props, another first. It's never "good enough" for us when it comes to tifo, because we use these displays to show our pride in our team and city. We always want to improve our displays and I know we'll keep doing just that.

The TA also recognized that just coming to games was not good enough. In 2010, with the move to MLS coming, a group of people formed the 107 Independent Supporters Trust (107ist). With this organization they wanted to be able to reach out and help make the community outside the stadium better as well. Now 107ist provides uniforms and equipment to local soccer teams in need. They have helped promising young players in the Portland with the money needed to play on youth national teams to improve their skills. They've helped improve the fields at city parks to make it easier for everyone to play soccer. They were a major force behind getting Haper's Playground built, where children can play no matter what their limitations. Then there's the tree plantings, days at the food bank, and blood drives 107ist members have participated in.

I've been a 107ist member since its founding in 2010 and I'm proud of all the ways the Portland area has been made better by us. And all of these projects started because someone saw that what we were already doing was good, but we could do even better. If the supporters who came before me settled for being good enough we wouldn't be here today, not even close. For that I'm grateful to those men and women, as should all Timbers supporters today.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Portland Soccer, March 5, 2013

There's going to be many more matches for the Timbers this year, and they'll win a good number of those. However, it's going to be hard to top the season opener on Sunday for entertainment. Portland and New York tied 3-3 but it either side could have had a win.

After the first half hour it looked like New York might win easily. The Timbers defense was always going to be their weakness but even so, in the first half they couldn't have played much worse. New York scored in the 9th minute on a terrible breakdown in communication between Timbers goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts and new center back Mikael Silvestre. Silvestre passed the ball back to Ricketts just as Ricketts was bending down to pick it up. When Ricketts fumbled the ball Fabian Espindola was there for the easy goal. You can blame Silvestre for kicking the ball back to Ricketts when no opponent was around, but Ricketts also shares the blame for not calling Silvestre off. New defenses need time to get on the same page as the keeper but this was still a terrible mistake.

Portland came back quickly and tied the score five minutes later. New midfielder and designated player Diego Valeri showed why the Timbers picked him up by scoring one of the best goals you'll see this season. The ball went from the left side to the middle through passes by Darlington Nagbe, Will Johnson, and Kalif Alhassan. Alhassan found Valeri running down the middle at the top of the penalty area, and Valeri juggled the ball three times before shooting to the far post with his right foot. After Alhassan's pass to him the ball didn't hit the ground until Valeri shot it. It looked like a nice move from the far end of the field, but watching it on replay it was a display of skill we rarely saw from the Timbers in their first two seasons.

Unfortunately the tie score did not last long, as New York scored twice in four minutes. In the 24th minute Silvestre failed to control a long ball and let Espindola run around him easily, giving the forward an easy scoring chance to make it 2-1. Then in the 28th Andrew Jean-Baptiste was caught ball watching on a corner kick instead of staying with his man, and Jamison Olave tapped in from close range. The Timbers made it to halftime lucky to be down just 3-1.

If the first half was bad, the second half was the complete opposite. The Timbers controlled the ball and looked dangerous going forward. In the 56th they made it 3-2 when Valeri's shot was saved and Nagbe scored on the rebound. The offensive pressure continued to mount until the 83rd minute. Jose Adolfo Valencia, coming on as a substitute, collected the ball after a long shot from Nagbe was punched away by New York keeper Luis Robles. Valencia sent in a cross that deflected into the net off Olave for an own goal to tie match at 3-3. Officially it was an own goal but Valencia absolutely caused it with his speed and strength. Watch how easily he shrugs off the defender in the replay. He's going to be a key player for the Timbers, either off the bench or starting.

In the end, the Timbers' offense was able to overcome a very bad first half from the defense. Still, they're not going to score three goals every night. The team definitely has changed for the better, as they wouldn't have come back from two goals down the past few seasons. The defenders have to improve, but they know it. The more they play together the better they'll become. The Timbers may not be the best team in MLS this season but they certainly will be entertaining.