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Timbers keep playoff streak alive

Portland returns home after 0-0 tie at Houston

Playing their first postseason match of the 2017 campaign, the Portland Timbers battled the Houston Dynamo to a 0-0 draw before 15,169 fans at BBVA Compass Stadium in the first leg of the Western Conference Semifinals in the Audi 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs on Monday night.

The Timbers, making their third appearance in the MLS Cup Playoffs in the last five seasons, will return to Portland to play host to Houston in the second leg of the two-game, aggregate-goal series at Providence Park on Sunday.

Portland is unbeaten in seven consecutive playoff matches, including the 2015 championship match at Columbus.

Opening up their 2017 postseason campaign after bypassing the Knockout Round as the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference, the Timbers produced nine shots in the match, while holding the Dynamo scoreless on their home field. Attacking early in the game, Portland created a strong chance quickly on the break when forward Darren Mattocks slipped a pass in behind for midfielder Diego Valeri. Sprinting down the left wing, Valeri quickly played a curling pass into the box for an unmarked Darlington Nagbe, whose first-time effort went wide of the far post in the sixth minute of play.

Approaching the midway point of the first half, the Timbers threatened Houston’s goal again in the 20th minute of play when midfielder Dairon Asprilla received the ball on the left side of the 18-yard box, blasting a strong effort that went wide of the target.

The Timbers opened up the final 45 with another strong chance when Valeri and Nagbe combined in the final third, creating space for Valeri to fire an effort from distance and forcing a strong save from Houston goalkeeper Tyler Deric in the 50th minute of play. Less than 10 minutes later, shortly after entering the game, forward Jeremy Ebobisse latched on to a pass from Valeri inside the 18-yard box, whipping an effort on target and forcing another save from Deric.

Continuing to create chances in the second half, the Timbers came close to scoring in the 68th minute when defender Vytas drove a pass across the six-yard box, finding defender Liam Ridgewell for a close-range effort that was blocked wide by the Houston defense. Six minutes later, an effective combination play in the middle of the field allowed Valeri to release Mattocks inside the box, with the striker hitting his effort at Deric, who made a strong save to prevent the scoring opportunity.

On the defensive end, goalkeeper Jeff Attinella made two strong saves in the second half, as Portland recorded its fourth shutout in its last seven games played across all competitions. In the 50th minute, with Houston attacking on the counter attack, Attinella made a strong save off his line to deny forward Alberth Elis. Five minutes later, Attinella produced another solid save in the 55th minute when he denied a looping header from defender Philippe Senderos, reacting quickly to push the defender’s chance over the crossbar.

Are paid athletes the answer to society's evil?

Kneeling at football games might be the start of a revolution
By Cliff Pfenning, Oregonsports.com

If there's anything somewhat progressive coming out of the social battle involving NFL players taking a knee during the National Anthem of their games, it's the attention and potential it might have to create a national, even international, revolution against history's greatest evil - bullying.

Addressing the issue of bullying is the key for players taking a knee - almost all of whom are black - to get their issue the greater attention it deserves, and the President and America's elected officials can be the starting point for progress.

Bullying is a tremendous issue in America's government, and if elected officials won't address it, maybe paid athletes can because they have voices that are regularly more well heard than those of elected officials. And, society tends to react more readily to those athlete's voices.

Kneeling at football games is the flash point so far, one made much more of an issue by the President because he he is using it as a way to divide America into those who see it as dishonoring the nation and it's troops, and those who support it as a way to address the social issue of black people, primarily men, being shot by police simply for being black.

Where the movement of kneeling is missing out is it's lack of greater focus. The issue has divided teams, in fact, into those who kneel - almost all of them black, and those who don't - basically all the white players. The larger issue is bullying, which the President is showcasing his significant ability to accomplish. Bullying is the key to the social issue that turns into deadly shootings, and it's separating America powered by the President.

There's no better way to address the issue of bullying than by focusing on the President, and his elected followers.

The President has focused attention on kneeling because it dishonors the flag and America's military in the process. So, kneeling is about a lack of honor.

Now, let's go to the President, and his commitment to honoring America's military and the flag through his actions.

This past week, the President responded to comments that he hadn't remembered the name of a fallen soldier when talking to his widow by telling the media, and therefore world, that he did use that soldier's name many times because someone had written it on a chart and put it in front of him to read off. Then, he promoted he remembered the soldier's name because he has a good memory, and then pointed to his head to, apparently, remind everyone that's where his memory is located. This was not a way to promote honor or integrity as the ultimate leader of the U.S. Armed Forces.

These types of press conferences, of course, are repeated enough that 24-hour news channels have increased their ratings significantly in the past two years. Late night talk-show hosts have an endless supply of material. How this is allowed to continue is the issue players need to direct the public's attention toward. It's allowed to continue through the evil called bullying. They don't need to attack the President, either, just challenge the main group allowing itself to be bullied - Republican Senators and Representatives.

Start with Senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio. You might remember them better as "Lyin" Ted and "Little" Marco from the 2016 campaign after the President came up with these playground names for them. He has never apologized for using those names, and they have not called for him to apologize, either. To apologize, we all know from the President's past, is to show a sign of weakness.

So, he continues to create playground names for individuals on an international level.

The President insults members of his own party regularly, members of his own cabinet regularly, international leaders. And when his plans don't work out right, he blames Congress for not doing it's job. It's their fault. This would be like a coach addressing the world after a loss and saying his players sucked. He/she had the perfect game plan, the players just sucked. Imagine practice the next day.

"Lyin" Ted and "Little" Marco have the ability to do something about this uncontrolled bully, though - they can vote him out of office using the 25th Amendment. Do they have the character to kneel on the White House lawn, demand an apology and address the evil of bullying?

Do the members of Congress, and this is primarily those who are in the Republican Party, have the character to address why they say nothing when the President comes up with these names as though he were a bully on a playground?

What about the President's wife? She made bullying a point to combat upon reaching the White House? That campaign does not seem to exist.

Bullying is a key to Capitalism, so it's not an easy issue to tackle. And being a bully basically involves someone or a group telling someone to do something regardless of what it means to that person or group simply because they/it tells it to. Harrassment? Force? There doesn't need to be any logic involved, any thought of compassion to those involved, just the outcome. People with political or social power don't want that to change, either, so they don't make any kind of issue out of it.

"Do it because I tell you to. And don't complain."

How white police officers have abused their power is a key to the issue black players want addressed. But, it has turned into a black vs. white issue. "Black Lives Matter." And, now "White Lives Matter." The President has done some passionate work to move this issue of black vs. white forward ... through bullying. 

Black Lives Matter has some passionate logic behind it, but ultimately it does separate people by color, which is what White Lives Matter is doing. White Lives Matter, of course, doesn't have to mean White Nationalism - it can mean white people who support better healthcare or better public schools or fewer pot holes. Or even vote by mail so you don't have to stand in some long line. People of all color can promote they support all these things, along with an end to government by bullying.

Bullying isn't an issue of color it's a societal issue and one that black and white football players, heck all athletes, can address at the National Anthem.

Stand Up To Bullying. Take a knee before the anthem, then stand up for the anthem to promote the campaign.

England already has a Stand Up To Bullying Day. The U.S.has a campaign, but it hasn't gotten beyond Massachusetts.

Black players in the NFL have the world's attention, but it's largely being lost as an issue that only relates to people of one color and the issue of honoring America's military by kneeling during a song. They need to move the issue from kneeling to the evil of bullying and make that the issue. They need their teammates of all color to join them. Take a knee before the anthem, then stand for the anthem and make that a social campaign. Stand Uo To Bullying.

How do you think the President would respond to this campaign? Black players taking a knee on the sideline, then standing up for the national anthem? Where's the dishonor there? What if their white teammates did that, too? White players stood up to bullying because it's an issue that affects white people, too.

A worldwide revolution can start from this campaign and challenge injustice on just about every issue. Congress? Why is it that as soon as someone gets elected and arrives on Capitol Hill, they immediately fall in line? Every issue is Us vs. Them. Democrat vs. Republican. Liberal vs. Conservative. Obamacare? It has to be repealed and replaced because it's broken. It's falling apart and was never a good idea in the first place, in spite of all the people who did achieve affordable health care. Millions of people. But, it's a terrible system that should never have been approved. That's a bully speaking.

An effective politician might say, "if it's broken, fix it."

If your car were damaged and struggling to run, would you just keep driving until it stopped and leave it on the side of the road to go get a new one? Or would you stop at a repair shop and work on making it run better? Especially if you knew the problem was simply a lack of gasoline.

The bullying that involved sacrificing Obamacare has gone so far that Republican leadership wouldn't even tell the nation what it was working on before voting on it. "It's going to be great because we tell you it's going to be great." That sounded like someone making a degree from Yale or Harvard look quite valuable. And making the framers of the Constitution quite proud. Lots of honor there.

This kind of bullying - "repeal and replace because I tell you to" - is making Yale, Harvard, Cornell, The Ohio State, Penn State, every college for that matter that's got a degree on a wall of an elected official, look terrible. America has no strength to think for itself, especially these days.

Stand Up To Bullying by getting Congressmen and women to think for themselves, using logic and compromise to better the nation, not just the people who voted for them. And not just people of one color.

Then, we're off.

Obamacare. There's a single-payer health care system in America's future, and if Obamacare is going to be fixed, this is the fix it needs. Capitalism and health care just don't mix for much of the public - the part that's old and/or sick.

How about the Military Industrial Complex? That's a biig one, but ... wow an issue. For starters, why does the U.S. have such a large military? And, apparently getting larger. We're not getting invaded. We can play police for the world, but does that need so many aircraft carriers and nuclear submaries? And, why is Russia our enemy, by the way? Heck, what is Communism? I think it's a nation run by one person, or a ruling party, that severely restricts the freedoms of its citizens to keep them under control. "Do it because we tell you to." Sound familiar?

Communism might be a bad way to run a nation, but Russia isn't invading the U.S., and really has never been close to invading our territory and putting Communism in place. So, why did the world need all those thousands of nuclear missiles? Why do we need them now? The answer is Capitalism and the need to keep factories and ports building the elements that power the military. Without wars and enemies, there's not need for tanks and fighter aircraft.

Of course, the companies that produce tanks and aircraft could be reformed to produce ... better roadways or spacecraft, renewable energy sources etc. Capitalism can survive a changing military direction.

Education. When I watch sports, there's an endless supply of commercials relating to the military. Either join up, or get insurance or health care or great loans because you were in the military. There's nothing wrong with any of those, but I often think what if they had the same commercials for ... teachers? Become a teacher, or get great health care and access to loans because you are or were a teacher. Education should be a much greater focus for the nation.

Gerrymandering. This is one of the main reasons elected officials get re-elected so often and regularly feel the need to just ... get re-elected by voters in their party rather than work together between political parties for a better nation.

Thorns capture second championship

Portland's 1-0 win over Carolina ends memorable season

ORLANDO, Fla. – Midfielder Lindsey Horan scored in the second half, and goalkeeper Adrianna Franch made five saves as the Portland Thorns beat the Carolina Courage 1-0 in the 2017 NWSL Championship at Orlando City Stadium in front of a crowd of 8,124.

Portland's win was its second league title after the team won the inaugural championship in 2013.

Horan's performance earned her the NWSL Championship Most Valuable Player Award.

Portland Thorns FC earned a berth to their second NWSL Championship in five seasons with a 4-1 win against the Orlando Pride at Providence Park on Oct. 7.

Thorns FC received goals from midfielder Amandine Henry, defender Emily Sonnett and forwards Hayley Raso and Christine Sinclair. Henry and Sonnett helped Portland jump out to a 2-0 lead, scoring a pair of goals in a three-minute span in the first 15 minutes, while Raso and Sinclair added goals in the final 20 minutes of the match.

The championship match featured the top two defenses in the NWSL. Portland and Carolina combined for 23 shutouts during the regular season, while allowing 20 and 22 goals, respectively. Offensively, Thorns FC tallied 37 goals, while the Courage scored 38 goals in 2017.

Individually, goalkeeper Franch set an NWSL single-season record for shutouts (11), while Sinclair became Portland’s all-time leading goal scorer (31) and Allie Long became the first player in club history to appear in 100 games.

As a team, Portland had the top defense in the NWSL for a second consecutive season, allowing the fewest goals (20) with the best goal differential (+17) and finished tied for the lowest goals-against average (0.83) in league history.

Nurkic continues to lift Blazers

Portland's new center shows off again in overtime win
Associated Press

PORTLAND — Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts called it "Nurkic Fever" before the game, and the love for Jusuf Nurkic had only grown by the end of the night.

The 7-foot center had a career-high 28 points and 20 rebounds, and Portland beat the Philadelphia 76ers 114-108 in overtime on Thursday.

Nurkic, who was acquired last month in a trade with Denver, also had eight assists and six blocks in Portland's season-high fourth straight win.

The "Bosnian Beast" has quickly become a fan favorite for the Trail Blazers, and Stotts was asked before the game if he was surprised. "It's easy to do," the coach said. "Nurkic fever? Why not?"

On the court afterward, Nurkic smiled when he was told about the coach's comments. The crowd roared.

"I love being here," he said. "I appreciate what the city is doing for me. I just want to give them back something."

Damian Lillard added 24 points for Portland, but did not make a 3-pointer, snapping a streak of 42 games with at least one 3.

Philadelphia rookie Dario Saric had a season-best 28 points, while Robert Covington scored 24 in the 76ers' sixth loss in seven games.

Covington's layup at the buzzer in regulation tied at 97. Nurkic's tip-in gave the Blazers a 102-99 lead, but Covington made a 3-pointer to tie it again at 102.

Lillard's free throws gave Portland a 106-104 lead with under two minutes left in the extra period. His layup extended the lead to four.

Allen Crabbe's floater with 20.9 seconds left helped seal the victory for the Blazers.

"That's as dominant a performance as we have played against this year from an interior player," 76ers coach Brett Brown said about Nurkic. "Twenty rebounds and 28 points. That's a dominant effort."

Nurkic has been a spark for Portland, one of a number of teams jockeying for a playoff spot in the Western Conference. It began the day in ninth in the standings, just below the Denver Nuggets.


Timbers slice up Minnesota in opener

Portland pounds the expansion club 5-1 before home crowd
Staff report

PORTLAND - The Portland Timbers are going to need a bigger log if Friday's season opener was any indication of the season ahead.

Sparked by a goal in the 14th minute, and capped by three goals in the final 11 minutes of play, Portland beat expansion Minnesota United 5-1 in the season opener for both teams Friday at Providence Park.

Newcomer Lawrence Olum scored first for Portland, and Diego Valeri and Fanendo Adi each talled twice as the Timbers pounded the visitors before yet another raucous, sold out crowd. The Timbers edged Minnesota 13-11 in shots, but had a 6-2 edge in shots on goal.

Both of Adi's goals were in extra time.

Portland returns to action Sunday at Los Angeles against the Galaxy, and returns home March 18 to play the Houston Dynamo.

 

 

 

Timbers ready to rock Portland

Portland starts Season 7 in MLS at home vs. expansion foe
March 3, 2017 / By Cliff Pfenning, Oregonsports Journal

A season after getting largely overworked by a schedule that seemed to not end from the title season the previous year, the Portland Timbers are back to chase their second league title.

Portland opens its 2017 MLS season Friday against Minnesota United at Providence Park.

A late-season slump caused the Timbers to miss out on the playoffs last season, but it helped the team recupperate for this season and retool its lineup.

Leading scorer Fanendo Adi remains as the team's top offensive threat, while midfielder Darlington Nagbe is working his way into the national landscape on Team USA. And, fan favorite Diego Chara isn't going anywhere. Goalkeeper Jake Gleeson returns as well.

Two key losses are defender Nat Borchers, who retired, as did long-time captain Jack Jewsbury.

“We are hoping that it is going to be a very good season,” striker Fanendo Adi told the press at training on Tuesday. “We had a very successful preseason, playing friendly games against very good teams, so we are hoping that will translate into the games that matter the most. Hopefully we will go into the game on Friday with confidence from our last game.”

Of course, the Timbers have had their fair share of success in recent years. They finished the 2013 season on top of the West before making a run to the Conference Championship in the postseason, then surged to MLS Cup 2015, where their 2-1 win over Columbus Crew SC made history for the club.

In both of those seasons, the Timbers were bouncing back from disappointment. The 2012 season marked Portland’s worst year in their MLS era, forcing the club to make their only coaching change since joining the league as they finished second-to-last in the West. The 2014 campaign, like 2016, was saddled with high expectations after the Timbers’ first-place finish in their conference the year before. But a slow start to the season saw them fall just short of a playoff spot, missing out on the sixth and final seed by a single point.

The Timbers would like to break out of their boom-and-bust cycle. Yet for now, they’re focused on moving past the disappointments of 2016 as they start a new season.

“Everyone needed to rest after 34 games in the season,” said Adi. “It was a good offseason, but now that we are back there is just one thing on the plate: we play for trophies, we play to win games as they come. We are going to lose some, but the focus of every game is to come into the game and win.

The Timbers’ leading scorer for the last two seasons, Adi believes it is the players behind him in the formation that could make this season special.

 

 

Super Bowlers, but super brand?

Where do the Patriots sit among top US sports brands?
Sportland Oregon staff

When you reflect on all the pro teams from the five major leagues across the US: NFL, NBA, Major League Baseball, NHL and even Major League Soccer, what's the top brand name for fans across the nation and even worldwide?

The New England Patriots might be No. 1 in terms of Super Bowls won in the past decade, but does anyone in Greece know who they are?

In this episode, we ponder that question as well as the recent NBA trade that send DeMarcus Cousins to New Orleans, sorta SNL-style, too.

Oregon is gearing up for its NCAA Tournament run, but what about Gonzaga? The Zags might be a No. 1 seed, but does the NCAA really want a school from Spokane playing in the final? We chat that up as well as how coach Mark Few might be playing the tournament up to his players.

We also hit on the key event for the upcoming week: the Daytona 500. All recorded at Pour Sports in SE Portland.

LISTEN NOW



Walton reaches national listing

Big Red gets spot on all-time greatest centers
Jan. 19, 2016

Bill Walton might have only averaged 13.3 points per game during his NBA career, but he still ranks as one of pro basketball's all-time greats. In fact, an ESPN.com poll released in 2016 has Walton at No. 10.

Walton led the Portland Trail Blazers to their lone NBA title in 1977, earning the league MVP as well as Finals MVP in the process. Portland led the league in wins midway through the following season when a foot injury ended Walton's season and started a string of injuries that kept him from ever again fully displaying the talents that made him the top draft pick in 1974.

He played later with the Clippers organization and Boston Celtics, earning an NBA title in Boston in 1986.

THE LIST

No. 10 - Bill Walton, Portland Trail Blazers, San Diego/Los Angeles Clippers, Boston Celtics (1974-87)

No. 9 - George Mikan, Minneapolis Lakers (1947-56)

No. 8 - Patrick Ewing, New York Knicks, Seattle Supersonics, Orlando Magic (1985-2002)

No. 7 - David Robinson, San Antonio Spurs (1989-2003)

No. 6 - Moses Malone,  (1974-95)

No. 5 - Hakeem Olajuwon, Houston Rockets, Toronto Raptors (1984-2002)

No. 4 - Shaquille O'Neal, Orlando Magic, Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat, Phoenix Suns, Cleveland Cavaliers, Boston Celtics (1992-2011)

No. 3 - Bill Russell, Boston Celtics (1956-69)

No. 2 -Wilt Chamberlain, Philadelphia/San Francisco Warriors, Philadelphia 76ers, Los Angeles Lakers (1959-74)

No. 1 - Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Milwaukee Bucks, Los Angeles Lakers (1969-89)

Blazers get back to winning ways

Portland returns home and ends three-game skid in overtime
March 9, 2016 / Staff report

PORTLAND - Though it took a little longer than they’d hoped, the Trail Blazers found relief at home from their recent road woes.

Damian Lillard had 41 points and 11 assists, and Portland snapped a three-game losing streak with a 116-109 overtime victory over the Washington Wizards on Tuesday night.

It was Lillard’s 15th straight game with 20-plus points, the second-longest streak in the NBA behind Kevin Durant’s 48. CJ McCollum added 18 points for Portland, which moved into sixth place in the Western Conference.

“Coming off three losses in a row, this was a must-have,” Lillard said. “We had to have this one.”

John Wall had 20 points and 11 assists for the Wizards, who have lost three straight. Ramon Sessions added 21 points off the bench, while Marcin Gortat had 19 points and 10 rebounds.

Wall hit a 3-pointer with 15 seconds left in regulation to give Washington a 104-102 lead, but McCollum hit a pull-up jumper with 5.4 seconds to go to tie it at 104. The game went to overtime when Gerald Henderson swatted away Gortat’s attempted layup.

“Gerald Henderson made a heck of a play in protecting the rim,” Wall said.

Blazers coach Terry Stotts described the block as “fantastic.”

Lillard hit a 3-pointer that gave the Blazers a 111-106 lead in the extra period. Wall answered with a 3 for the Wizards, but Lillard’s layup with 23.5 seconds left made it 113-109 and Portland hung on for the win.

The Wizards led by as many as 13 points in the third quarter, but Portland wrestled back to lead 85-81 going into the fourth.

“That was a really important win for us, especially fighting back in the second half after getting down early,” Stotts said. “After losing three in a row and to gut out an overtime win, it was really important for us.”

The Blazers were back home after a six-game road trip that started with three wins but ended with three losses, capped by a 123-103 loss at Detroit on Sunday.

Henderson was key off the bench for Portland, finishing with 12 points and seven rebounds, as well as the monster block.

“This was huge,” Lillard said. “Especially with Utah losing. It was a chance to separate ourselves a little bit more. With another tough trip coming up, this was a huge opportunity to protect our home court.”

The Blazers head to Golden State on Friday. The Blazers beat the Warriors 137-105 in Portland last month behind 51 points from Lillard.

Washington was without guard Bradley Beal, who did not travel with the team to Portland because of a sprained pelvis he sustained on Saturday during a disheartening 100-99 loss to Indiana. Beal, who has struggled with injuries this season, is the team’s second-leading scorer, averaging 17.8 points.

The game was marred by a scuffle between Henderson and Alan Anderson with 1:23 left in the first quarter. The players got into a shoving match and had to be separated by teammates.

Upon review, Anderson was ejected for an elbow to Henderson’s face. Henderson got a personal foul and both got technicals.

Anderson was averaging 9.2 points and 2.6 rebounds after missing the first 55 games of the season following left ankle surgery.

The Wizards went on a 12-point run to open the second half, going up 67-54. Portland answered with a 17-4 run to tie it at 71, capped by Lillard’s 3-pointer.

Big season ahead for Timbers' fans

There's new goals after the team won the MLS title in 2016
Feb. 7, 2016 / By Cliff Pfenning, Oregonsports Journal

Is there anything close to a dynasty brewing for the Portland Timbers?

That’s one of the things fans of the team can dream about after the franchise won the Major League Soccer title in only its fifth year of play.

And, it’s brought the teams’ fans bragging rights throughout the Northwest in regards to league results. Neither Seattle or Vancouver, their Cascadia Cup rivals, have even played in the league championship since it began in 1996.

When the 2016 season begins, not only will defending the title be among dreams of fans, but winning more than just one will as well.

Looking at the history of the league, three franchises: D.C. United, Houston and the Los Angeles Galaxy have won back-to-back titles, but none has won three straight. That will be among the thoughts of fans when the team begins play March 6 with its season opener at Providence Park against the Columbus Crew, its opponent in the league finale.

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