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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.

Today's SPORTS ???? is brought to you by Greg Crawford of and, where you can increase your public speaking dramatically.

Check out also, Craw's Sports Business Weekend,, out each Sunday and written by Greg Crawford

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.

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

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?

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

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?

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

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)

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

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?

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

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?

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

Saturday, May 4, 2013

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

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

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

Thursday, May 2, 2013

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

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

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