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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?

Today's SPORTS ???? is brought to you by Greg Crawford from

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?

Today's SPORTS ???? is brought to you by Greg Crawford, please follow Great on

Sunday, April 28, 2013

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

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

Today's SPORTS ???? is brought to you by Greg Crawford of

Thank you for commenting and reading.

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?

Brought to you by Greg Crawford, of

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?"

Thank you, Greg Crawford,

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.

Follow me on twitter @Jovan10 for Sixers, College Basketball, NFL, MLB, and all sports updates.

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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.