Portland extend unbeaten run to 12 games in goalless draw at LAFC

8

The Portland Timbers extended their unbeaten streak to 12 matches by earning a 0-0 draw at LAFC at Banc of California Stadium Sunday.nfl nike jerseys cheap china

Portland (has eight wins and four ties in its last dozen games, while LAFC improved to 5-0-4 at home in its first season and has four wins and two ties in the past six games.

LAFC midfielder Lee Nguyen was shown a red card in the 84th minute for his high-footed challenge that struck Timbers midfielder Sebastian Blanco in the leg.

Four minutes later, LAFC goalkeeper Tyler Miller went to the ground to stuff a dribbling Diego Valeri. Miller made six saves for his sixth shutout of the season.

Portland’s Jeff Attinella earned his fifth clean sheet with six saves, including one on a snap header by Carlos Vela in the 93rd minute.8

The Timbers missed an opportunity for the opening score in the 5th minute when Miller stopped Valeri, who had stripped Benny Feilhaber for the breakaway.

In the 31st minute, Adama Diomande missed giving LAFC the lead. He took a scooped pass from Joao Moutinho over his shoulder and one-touched a shot to the right post, but Attinella was there to make the save.

Portland was inches from scoring early in the second half only to see a strike from Samuel Armenteros hit the post.cheap nike nfl jerseys from china

The teams played the first of two matches against each other in a span of four days at Banc of California Stadium. They meet Wednesday in a U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal match.

Portland returns to MLS play Saturday vs. the Montreal Impact. Timbers midfielder Diego Chara will miss the game because of yellow-card accumulation after receiving a caution in the first half.

The protracted battle between Marvell Wynne and MLS that led to the end of his career

7

The MLS veteran and former U.S. international announced his retirement from the game in a Twitter post back on April 20. It wasn’t aging legs or a decline in ability that ended his career, but rather a heart defect that despite being corrected by surgery, resulted in him not being cleared to play.

“It’s not really the way I wanted to go out after being in the league for 13 years, but I guess my hand was kind of forced,” said Wynne via telephone. “I didn’t really have an option, to be honest.”

Before the start of the 2017 season, Wynne signed a new two-year deal with the San Jose Earthquakes that would have earned him $257,000 a year. But during the preseason physical, Wynne was diagnosed with an enlarged aortic root, the section of the aorta closest to and attached to the heart, consisting of the aortic valve and the openings for the coronary arteries. The typical diameter of an aortic root is 2 to 3 centimeters, while Wynne’s was between 4.4 and 4.8 centimeters. Surgery is usually recommended only if the diameter exceeds 5 centimeters, but Wynne was told by his doctors that the rigors of playing professional soccer necessitated having surgery if he wanted to continue playing.cheap official nike nfl jerseys

Wynne opted for surgery, a nine-hour operation that took place on March 24, 2017, at Stanford Medical Center. Wynne recalled that the surgeon, Dr. Craig Miller, discovered in the operation that the walls of Wynne’s aortic root were thinner than normal, like a water balloon filled with too much water.

“I was actually at high risk for a rupture because they couldn’t tell the actual thickness of my aorta,” said Wynne.7

Wynne is not the first professional athlete Dr. Miller has operated on. In 2005, Dr. Miller performed a similar operation on now-former NBA player Ronny Turiaf. Turiaf not only recovered, but he went on to play eight seasons in the NBA. Granted, the sports are different, but both involved a certain level of physicality as well as aerobic intensity. Dr. Miller also performed a similar operation on an F-18 Navy fighter pilot who was able to regain his flight status in spite of sustaining considerable G-forces on his chest.nfl nike jerseys cheap china

The surgery was a success, but Wynne’s future as a professional soccer player was still unclear. His agent and the MLS Players Association asked that Wynne’s future be assessed post-surgery, and the league agreed. In the interim, MLS continued paying Wynne, although it was under no obligation to do so, considering he officially failed the entrance physical.

Wynne was keen to get back on the field as soon as possible, and he was cleared by both Dr. Miller and his cardiologist, Dr. David Liang, to begin ramping up his workouts.

To that end, Wynne was seen by MLS’ cardiologist, Dr. Matthew Martinez, in mid-June. In an undated letter obtained by ESPN FC that Dr. Martinez sent to Wynne, he indicated that Wynne “was doing well at that time and his CT indicated the repair of his ascending aorta was stable without complications.”

Yanks’ manager Aaron Boone has noticed Red Sox winning

9

As the Boston Red Sox keep piling up wins entering the All-Star Break, one of their rivals has been paying attention.

Although New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone hasn’t been on the hunt for daily updates about the recently hot Red Sox, it still has been hard for him to escape news about how well they have been playing.new nike nfl jerseys for sale cheap

Asked before Sunday’s first-half finale against the Cleveland Indians if he did any scoreboard-watching as far as the American League East-leading Red Sox were concerned, Boone smiled and said: “I see that they win every day.”

The response elicited laughter from reporters in the Yankees’ dugout.9

Boone contends that despite being familiar with how successful the Red Sox have been lately, his focus remains on his squad.

“I don’t worry about it that much. At this point, I just kind of smile at it,” Boone said.

Since losing two of three to the Yankees in a series in the Bronx two weeks ago, the Red Sox have rattled off 11 wins in their past 12 games entering Sunday’s series finale with the Blue Jays. That stretch includes a 10-game winning streak that was snapped Friday.

New York has gone 8-5 since that Boston series, ahead of play Sunday. After being tied for the division lead with Boston following the rivals’ last meeting, the Yankees came into Sunday’s action trailing the Red Sox by 3½ games.nfl nike jerseys cheap china

“The bottom line is we don’t control anything, and it’s July,” Boone said. “There’s a long way and a lot of baseball left to play, and there’s nothing you can do to worry about it. We’re so uber-focused on us, and in the end, if we take care of business and play to our capabilities, we’ll put ourselves in a great position.

“I’m worried about us going out and playing our best. If we do that, hopefully we’ll get to where we want to go.”

Futures Game a showcase of potential Manny Machado trade chips

7

Before Manny Machado arrived for the All-Star Game, the Futures Game on Sunday was a who’s who of prospects bandied about in trade talks for the Baltimore Orioles shortstop and others expected to be moved before the July 31 non-waiver deadline. New York Mets prospect Peter Alonso hit one of eight home runs in the game as the United States beat the World 10-6 in a three-hour respite from the rumors.cheap nike nfl jerseys paypal

“There’s definitely a lot of talk going around with trades and all that,” said Milwaukee Brewers second baseman Keston Hiura, who has been mentioned as a possible trade chip for Machado. “There’s always questions of who’s getting moved and all that. … Whatever happens talking-wise or behind the scenes, that’s out of our control.”

A couple players in this game already know what these guys are going through. Luis Basabe went to the Chicago White Sox in the trade that netted the Red Sox lefty starter Chris Sale, and Dawel Lugo was part of the haul the Detroit Tigers got from the Arizona Diamondbacks for J.D. Martinez.

Alonso’s seventh-inning home run came off Philadelphia Phillies right-hander Adonis Medina, whose wild pitch on a strikeout allowed the go-ahead run to score. Medina has also been linked to Machado, with the Phillies showing serious interest.7

New York Yankees pitching prospect Justus Sheffield allowed a home run and had a strikeout in 1 1/3 innings of work. Sheffield is considered untouchable, even with the Yankees trying to catch the Boston Red Sox in the AL East.

The Los Angeles Dodgers have plenty of prospect ammunition to get in on the Machado sweepstakes, including catcher Keibert Ruiz and outfielder Yusniel Diaz. Ruiz and the Dodgers got a scare when he injured his right hand on a foul tip in the seventh inning, but he said X-rays showed that it was not broken.new nike nfl jerseys for sale cheap

“I was very worried,” said Diaz, who hit two home runs for the World. “He’s a good teammate, and at this point, we’re almost like brothers, so I was very concerned.”

Injuries are reason for concern, but Brewers pitching prospect Luis Ortiz doesn’t worry about being traded after going from Texas to Milwaukee at the deadline two years ago.

“Being traded the first time caught me really off-guard, especially when I was with Texas, 19, 20 years old in Double-A,” said Ortiz, who got the final out for the U.S. on Sunday. “But now that [there’s] another trade talk, and my name’s getting brought up more and more in trades and Keston, it’s more like you want to keep an eye on it, but then at the same time, you’ve got to let it go, do your thing.”

Could 49ers’ George Kittle break out at TE? It’s possible

8

In an offseason that saw Jason Witten retire to the Monday Night Football broadcast booth while Antonio Gates awaits a team to sign him and Rob Gronkowski flirts with ending his NFL career, it’s safe to say the tight end position in the NFL is in a state of transition.

With those superstars moving on or close to it, there are a number of vacancies at the head of the class alongside the likes of Travis Kelce and Zach Ertz. While there’s no shortage of options to fill the void, one candidate wouldn’t immediately come to mind when looking at the next wave of tight ends, at least not for those outside of the Bay Area.

But in San Francisco, second-year 49ers tight end George Kittle has quietly emerged as one of the league’s most intriguing tight end prospects. And he’s not shying away from the opportunity to establish himself as one of the best at his position.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

“Obviously I want to be the best as a tight end,” said Kittle. “I get on the field, I feel like it’s an opportunity to show that I can play football and I’m good at my job and I deserve to keep my job. … There’s comparisons everywhere, but if I can go out and show that I’m the best me, and I can ball and prove to myself that I can play really well and prove to Coach [Kyle] Shanahan and my tight end coach that I’m playing well and I’m the best one and they need me, then I’m satisfied.”8

Kittle has lofty goals, especially for a fifth-round pick who entered the league with little hype just more than a year ago. Kittle’s high expectations aren’t exclusive to him. In fact, the 49ers have been high on him since they chose him with the 146th overall pick in the 2017 NFL draft.

During his career at Iowa, Kittle never finished with more than 22 catches per season for the run-heavy Hawkeyes. He had just 48 receptions for 737 yards and 10 touchdowns in four years. Iowa’s commitment to the running game, however, helped Kittle establish himself as a stout blocker, but blocking tight ends don’t usually get drafted very high.

Still, Kittle had a strong showing at the NFL scouting combine, where he ran the third-fastest 40-yard dash among tight ends (4.52 seconds) and had the third-best long jump (11 feet).

In Kittle, Shanahan saw the ideal fit for his offense — a tight end capable of in-line blocking and lining up in a variety of places. Among the many rookies the 49ers brought in last season, none had a bigger workload than Kittle, who was taking starting reps from the moment he arrived.cheap nfl nike jerseys china

Kittle never flinched, despite playing through a high ankle sprain, as well as calf, hip, chest, elbow, back and hamstring ailments.

This was supposed to be Bryce Harper’s All-Star Game

7

It was the Sunday before the Sunday before the All-Star Game, and the Washington Nationals were holding a news conference. On a podium deep within the bowels of Nationals Park, the three players who were voted into the Midsummer Classic sat behind a long table and fielded questions from reporters.

On the right was Max Scherzer, the two-time defending Cy Young winner whose dominant first half makes him a favorite to be the starting pitcher for the National League in front of his hometown fans. On the left was Sean Doolittle, the bearded southpaw who hasn’t walked anybody in three months and has been as good as any closer in the game. In between Scherzer and Doolittle, in the chair that was literally the center of attention, sat Bryce Harper.

Given the year that Harper is having so far, he had no earthly business being the man in the middle. Relative to Scherzer and Doolittle, he is Washington’s least deserving All-Star, and it’s not particularly close. nfl nike jerseys for cheap Yet there he sat, the clear focal point in a roomful of lenses and microphones and eyeballs. This was, after all, supposed to be Bryce Harper’s All-Star Game.

He’s also making himself a lot of outs. Even though averages across the league are down thanks to a variety of reasons (homer-happy hitters, shift-happy defenses, velo-happy hurlers), Harper’s average has plummeted to unforeseeable depths. At the time the All-Star results were announced Sunday, his .218 average ranked 78th out of 81 qualified National Leaguers. He led the National League in walks and was third in homers, but he was on pace for 164 strikeouts, a number that would shatter his previous career high. It was a startling downturn for a superstar who hit .319 last year, before an August knee injury derailed an outstanding season that had thrust him firmly into the MVP conversation again. Unlike in 2016, when reports of a lingering shoulder issue surfaced and perhaps helped explain why he struggled to repeat his historic 2015 performance, Harper seems physically whole this season. As for the psychological piece, that’s not so clear.
7
On the surface, Harper appears to be holding it together. Despite suffering through a massive slump that started in mid-April and only recently showed signs of letting up, he has been cordial when talking to members of the media. He has been atypically restrained toward umpires and has yet to be tossed from a game, a sign of maturity that, if it holds, would result in his first ejection-free season since 2014. Said hitting coach Kevin Long: “He’s really in a good frame of mind.” That isn’t to say the slump hasn’t taken its toll.

“Is he frustrated? Sure,” Long said. “Does he want to do better? Sure. Is this pissing him off a little bit? Yeah. What human being wouldn’t it? This is what you do for a living, and you’re arguably the best hitter on the planet.“cheap nfl jerseys china nike

Over the past few months, however, it seems as though what Harper cares most about is being the best home run hitter on the planet.

Before a May contest against the Pirates, the Nats slugger took early batting practice, then proceeded to go deep for the first time in more than two weeks. Afterward, when asked what the purpose of his early BP session was, Harper said: “Just hit some homers … I was trying to hit the ball as far as I could.” A few days later, following a two-jack game against the Phillies that included a 473-foot bomb to dead center, he weighed in with, “It’s not how far. It’s how many.” Over Memorial Day weekend, when he went yard against Miami but finished the series with a then season-low .230 average, he rationalized it like this: “If I hit .230, and I hit 40, I’ll take it any day of the week.”

Dodgers’ Chase Utley, citing family, says he’ll retire at end of 2018

8

Chase Utley will retire from baseball at the end of this season, capping a 16-year career that included a World Series championship with Philadelphia Phillies and an elder-statesman role with the Dodgers.

The six-time All-Star said he’s leaving to spend more time with his wife and two young sons.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

Utley announced his decision at a jammed news conference in the basement of Dodger Stadium on Friday, with several of his teammates surprising him by crowding into the small, steamy room.

“I just want you guys to know that I’ve signed a five-year extension,” Utley deadpanned, drawing laughter from manager Dave Roberts, Kenley Jansen, Justin Turner, Alex Wood, Andrew Toles, Joc Pederson, Logan Forsythe and Ross Stripling.8

Three-time Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw sat on the floor in a corner, with Matt Kemp, Rich Hill, Corey Seager, Austin Barnes and Kenta Maeda joining him.

Pitching coach Rick Honeycutt looked on, while hitting coach Turner Ward used his phone to capture video. Yasiel Puig hung in the back, and 92-year-old Dodgers pitching great Don Newcombe listened in.

Utley has tried to avoid the kind of attention he received Friday for most of his career. He always has preferred to let his play on the field speak for him, although among his teammates he is generous with his knowledge of the game. They in turn marvel at his physical condition.

Utility player Enrique Hernandez calls him “Grandpa.”cheap nfl nike jerseys china

“He’s changed the way I see the game, he’s changed the way I eat, he’s changed the way I prepare in the offseason from now on and the way I prepare during the season every day,” Hernandez said. “From now on if I end up having a pretty successful career, whether he likes it or not, he’s going to have had something to do with it.”

Suns’ rebuild needs contributions from lottery picks besides Deandre Ayton

7

A lot of attention has been devoted to Deandre Ayton this summer, and for good reason. The No. 1 overall pick for the Phoenix Suns has flashed franchise-changing talent. But the Suns fielded a Las Vegas Summer League squad that features three other lottery picks from the past three seasons: Dragan Bender (fourth pick, 2016), Josh Jackson (fourth pick, 2017) and Mikal Bridges (10th pick, 2018).

The Suns were eliminated from the tournament in an 88-86 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday, so Friday’s 90-55 win over the San Antonio Spurs marked the end of their time in Las Vegas.cheap nfl nike jerseys china

Bridges, acquired in a draft-day trade with Philadelphia, is clearly the rawest of the three non-Ayton lottery players. On Friday, Bridges took four 3s during his 12 minutes of action and made one, before being shut down with a sore knee. The trey is the key offensive skill that Bridges needed to show and work on in Vegas. On one set in the second quarter, Phoenix guard Shaquille Harrison set Bridges up for a wide-open spot-up 3 from the elbow, and while Bridges’ shot was in the air one of my colleagues muttered, “This is the shot he has to be able to make.”

Over the whole summer league, 16 of Bridges’ 22 shot attempts came from downtown. His best game was the opener, when he knocked down 4 of 5 3s, but Bridges managed to make only 3 of 11 3s for the rest of the event. That shot will be Bridges’ ticket to playing time for the Suns this year.7

Bender started on Friday, as well, but played only eight minutes before the team shut him down. He scored five points with five rebounds, but as always in summer league, the visual impressions are much more informative than the box scores. The first time I saw Bender in Vegas back in 2016, I said that he looked more like a 7-foot shooting guard than a big man. He was extremely slim, and he handled the ball out top and attacked defenses facing the basket instead of at the post.

Fast forward to today and Bender has noticeably bulked up like a traditional pivot player. Bender told ESPN after Friday’s game that getting stronger was one of his main goals of the summer, along with getting acclimated to his new teammates.

What popped for Jackson in last year’s summer league was his extreme athletic ability and defensive potential. Jackson showed that defensive potential in his three games this year, as well, with four steals and two blocked shots in only 70 total minutes.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

But in this summer league, Jackson was clearly working more on his offense. Jackson said that his main focuses in Vegas were leadership, getting stronger and picking his spots to attack. That was obvious in watching him play, as he handled the ball a lot and was particularly aggressive in looking for his shot. Jackson’s shot was off, as he made only 10 of his 41 field goal attempts, including 1-of-11 from downtown. But Jackson’s attacking style got him to the line consistently, where he made 10 of 14 free throws in three games despite playing only 23.3 minutes per game.

While Jackson looked for his shot often, one of his most memorable plays of the event was a pass. In his first game against the Dallas Mavericks, Jackson was running the pick-and-roll set as the ball handler and threw a beautiful alley-oop to Ayton that was only foiled because the defender fouled Jackson before the pass.

Projecting who will win the 2018 Home Run Derby

8

Continuing my pattern of enjoying the festivities around the All-Star Game the most, I’ve always loved the Home Run Derby. As a kid, when I’d come home from school, the old reruns of Home Run Derby from the 1960s were on. Because I was born in 1978, I got to see a lot of players whose careers I had missed out on, like Hank Aaron, Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle. This was before ESPN Classic was launched and the internet was really a thing.nfl cheap nike jerseys

Recently, in a discussion, I was asked “Dan, can you predict a Home Run Derby?” My first answer was an extremely helpful “Dunno,” but it got me thinking if we could predict a Home Run Derby, using both the matchups and results. We don’t have a lot of data, but modeling these things always gives an interesting glimpse into the inner workings of things.
8
So, I found variables for the three most recent Home Run Derbys — I’d love more years, but the formats shift a lot and I wanted to see first if Statcast data would be helpful — and started from there. A few variables, some surprising, some not, came up as useful predictors of Derby performance. Sixteen of the 21 matchups from 2015-2017 were won by the player with the higher average exit velocity and the margin tended to be correlated with their difference in the rankings. Also helpful were things like home runs-per-ball hit, and even recent performance seemed to have more predictive value in a Derby than in real life.new nike nfl jerseys for sale cheap

I’ll spare the nitty-gritty ins-and-outs of dimensionality reduction and go right to the results, plugged in for this year’s Home Run Derby, matchup by matchup.

Knox looks ready to contribute to present and future for Knicks

6

On Thursday, the New York Knicks summer league team featuring ninth pick Kevin Knox and 36th pick Mitchell Robinson bowed out of the tournament in an 82-75 loss to the Boston Celtics; New York will play a final consolation game Friday. The rookies took their first steps as pros in the Las Vegas Summer League, with some intriguing results but also room for improvement.

Knox averaged 23.3 points and 7.3 rebounds through his first three games but made only five of his 20 shot attempts on his way to 15 points, four rebounds, three assists and five turnovers on Thursday. Even in a poor game, though, Knox showed the hallmarks that the Knicks hope will translate to the next level.cheap official nike nfl jerseys

Knox projects to the type of combo forward that is increasingly popular in today’s NBA, similar in size and role to last year’s Vegas Summer League Championship Game MVP Kyle Kuzma. On offense, Knox is more finisher than team-offense initiator. Perhaps his most impressive weapon in the summer league was his dribble drive to the rim. Knox has a quick and long first step, which he uses to get his body between the defender and the ball. Once that’s done, Knox is able to carry them on his hip to the rim, where he’s got the strength and length to finish in traffic.6

That move was consistently effective against summer league competition, but on Thursday, Boston Celtics forward Semi Ojeleye was physical enough to make it more difficult. On one drive in the third quarter, Knox got his half-step and lowered his shoulder, but Ojeleye beat him to the spot and drew the charge. On another play, at the end of a quarter the Knicks ran an ISO out top for Knox, but he lost his footing against physical defense and lost the ball. That’s the level of defense Knox can expect at the next level, so he’ll have to adjust.

Knox’s other primary offensive skill is his shooting, but it runs hot and cold. On Tuesday against the Los Angeles Lakers, he went 5-of-7 from downtown. On Thursday, Knox made only 2 of 7 from behind the arc. He was able to get clean looks consistently — cheap wholesale nike nfl jerseys better than he’s likely to see at the next level, so he needs to increase his efficiency and consistency for this to become a strength.

On defense, Knox generally stayed with his man, didn’t do a lot of switching or helping out, and rebounded adequately but didn’t look like a “defensive stopper.” His rebounding seemed to vary with his effort level; when locked in, Knox was able to grab contested rebounds. Again, Thursday was a low-water mark for Knox with only three defensive boards.