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Eight things to know about Sunday's MLS Cup Final

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USATI

Eight things to know about Sunday's MLS Cup Final

The Seattle Sounders (34-16-8) will host Toronto FC (34-13-14) at CenturyLink Field at 12:00pm, with only one team leaving happy. 

Here are eight things to know ahead of the game.

  1. A Familiar Matchup

This will be the third MLS Cup in four years that’s played between the Seattle Sounders and Toronto FC. The two teams have split the series so far. Seattle upset a record-setting Toronto FC team in the first matchup, despite not registering a shot on goal. The next season, Toronto FC would get revenge winning the match 2-0. 

  1. Expect a great atmosphere

Although, this matchup of familiar foes will feature a new location: CenturyLink Field. The first two MLS cup matchups took place in Toronto, and the Seattle faithful will be hungry for another championship. The Emerald City Supporters create one of the league’s best home field advantages and this game sold out in a mere twenty minutes. It’s also expected to set a new Seattle Sounders attendance record, surpassing the previous record of 67, 385 by over 2,000 people. 

  1. Both teams were lower seeds

With the new knockout rules for the MLS postseason, it’s not surprising to see a lower seeded team in the MLS Cup. However, both Toronto and Seattle entered their conference championship games as heavy underdogs, and won. Seattle, the second seed, upset top-seeded LAFC and fourth-seeded Toronto FC upset second-seeded Atlanta FC. With just one game left, anything can happen.

  1. Can Seattle break the curse?

Remember when I told you that Seattle won an MLS Cup without a shot on goal? Well, they haven’t been the only Western Conference team to put up a poor offensive performance in the league final recently. In fact, the last time a western conference player scored a non-penalty kick goal in the MLS Cup was in 2015 when then-Portland Timbers forward Rodney Wallace scored a championship-winning goal.

  1. Will Altidore play?

Toronto FC forward Jozy Altidore hasn’t suited up since injuring his quad on Decision Day, October 6th, 2019. Despite playing without him the entire postseason, his team has made the league final. The USMNT player said it would take a miracle for him to suit up but the Sounders are preparing as if he will play.

  1. Some homegrown talent

Sunday afternoon will be special for all players, but for Seattle’s homegrown talent it’ll just mean more to play in a league final in their home state. Midfielder Handwalla Bwana grew up in Seattle and forward Jordan Morris was born there before growing up in Mercer Island, WA. Morris’ ten goals is good for second on the team. 

  1. Lots of Experience

Not only have the Sounders played in three of the four previous MLS Cups, but they have made the postseason each season for the past decade. This is a club that expects to find success and will play Sunday looking for a second championship.

  1. Only one matchup between them this season

While they have played in the postseason frequently and recently, the two teams only played once in the regular season: a 3-2 Sounders victory in Seattle. Will Bruin scored two goals and Christian Roldan added one more in the victory for the Sounders. The lone scorer for Toronto was Jozy Altidore who will most likely miss the MLS Cup Final. 

 

Social media reacts and remembers the great Gert Boyle

Social media reacts and remembers the great Gert Boyle

Media, politicians, and fans alike share their thoughts on the passing of Gert Boyle who famously took Columbia Sportswear to new heights. 

https://twitter.com/StephanieSidley/status/1191341598195376129?s=20

Also, here is a great look that our friends at KGW did:

Remembering and Celebrating Gert Boyle of Columbia Sportswear

Remembering and Celebrating Gert Boyle of Columbia Sportswear

"It's the Boyles and Phil Knight. Those are the two biggest names in this area in terms of sports business and what they were able to bring to this state and this area," Nigel Burton said eloquently on Rip City Drive this morning in reference to the passing of Gert Boyle, famed leader of Columbia Sportswear who passed away yesterday at age 95

In the clip above, Nigel describes his interactions with the Boyle family referencing a recent event he was at with Gert Boyle's son, Tim: 

They had a little video about Columbia Sportswear and how it started and everything and it brought people to tears. It was very old-school, her father started Columbia, and of course...passed it to her daughter's husband. Then when he (Neal Boyle, Gert's husband) passed away...she was just like screw it, this is our life...we're just going to have to go ahead and do this. We're going to have to figure this out.

Nigel talks about how he was able to meet Gert and her son Tim a couple of times and describes the family:

They are just kind of these salt of the earth people. It is really sad, but true to form for the Boyles, she passes away and they're like 'Oh no, don't send flowers. Make a donation to cancer research and we're going to have a party.' That's like the most Gert thing of all-time!

Gert was also the star of her famous line of of "One Tough Mother" commercial ads. One of her classics can be seen below:

 

Gert Boyle of Columbia Sportswear passes away

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KGW Photos

Gert Boyle of Columbia Sportswear passes away

Gert Boyle passed away today at the age of 95.

Boyle's father started Columbia Sportswear, which has a headquarters in Portland, OR. 

In 1964, Boyle's father passed away and her husband Neal became president of Columbia Sportswear. 

Just a few years later in 1970, Neal Boyle passed away unexpectedly at the age of 47 and Gert would take over as president of Columbia and lead it to great success and a more diversified offering of products. 

As of 2013, she began working as chairman of the company. Gert was know for her philanthropy with Special Olympics and the Knight Cancer Institute. 

A press release from the company said:

"Boyle's pioneering role as a woman in what was then a male-dominated industry is a testament to her strength of character and ability to persevere through difficult situations,"

The industry and world has lost an important icon and contributor today. 

XFL draft: Five former Seahawks return to Seattle

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USA Today Images

XFL draft: Five former Seahawks return to Seattle

The Seattle Dragons may be the Emerald City’s new XFL team, but soon many familiar faces with grace the turf at CenturyLink Field.

In the skill, offensive line, and defensive front 7 phases of the 2019 XFL Draft on Tuesday, the Dragons selected five former Seattle Seahawks: wide receiver Keenan Reynolds, wide receiver Kasen Williams, offensive tackle Isaiah Battle, guard Robert Myers and tackle Taniela Tupou.

Perhaps the most recognizable player selected in Day 1 is Kasen Williams, who was taken in the seventh round. Williams spent most of his career in the Seattle area, starting with Skyline High School in Sammamish, where he was a USA Today High School first team All-American. He played for University of Washington in college, earning All-Pac-12 Honorable Mention in 2012. 

Williams first signed with the Seahawks in 2015 following an impressive showing during rookie mini-camp. He had reoccurring  stints on Seattle's practice squad and active roster, but was released in 2017. Most recently, Williams played for the Indianapolis Colts and Cleveland Browns. 

Seahawks linebacker K.J. Wright and former backup QB Jake Heaps were happy to see Williams get another shot. 

The XFL draft will resume Wednesday with the defensive backfield players and an open draft, which includes all remaining players after positional drafts. 

My all-time favorite home run -- and the endangered stadium where I hit it

My all-time favorite home run -- and the endangered stadium where I hit it

You talk about pressure on youngsters in sports? Well, my first real encounter with it came when I was 12 years old.

I was a catcher in the Sellwood-Moreland Little League, which was a pretty good training ground for young baseball players. Good coaches, nice uniforms for the time and our team couldn’t have asked for a better sponsor than the now-long-gone Rettman’s Market.

The only downside to the league was we played our games in Sellwood Park – a nice diamond but it had no outfield fence. You wanted a home run in our league, you had to run it out. And when the other team played its outfielders deep, that was a difficult task.

And that’s what made it so special, once a season, when our whole league got to play in Alpenrose Stadium in Southwest Portland. It was a showplace of a ballpark for kids -- dugouts, press box, PA system, concession stand, plenty of seating for spectators and... It had a fence! You could hit a home run and actually do the home-run trot around the bases.

To a kid in those days, it was like playing in Yankee Stadium.

But when you were a pretty good player, that day came with pressure. I mean, if you wanted a real home run you had to do it there, at Alpenrose, on that one day in the summer.

So the pressure was on that Saturday at Alpenrose when we played our game. As a 12-year-old in Little League, this was my last shot at that fence. One game. And several of my friends had already cleared that fence in earlier games.

Man, everybody knew what was at stake. You think it wasn’t a big deal? Well, one of my friends – whose father was his coach – was actually traded to another team DURING that day, so that he’d get another game at Alpenrose to try to hit one out. He didn’t make it, by the way.

But I did.

I clubbed one over the center-field fence and don’t think I felt my feet hit the ground all the way around the bases. So many decades later, it’s still a pleasant thought. My father, determined to capture the moment on his 8mm camera that day, was so intent on my plate appearance that he forgot to pick up the camera until the ball was on its way out of the little park.

He ended up with a shot of two outfielders watching an unseen ball carry over the wall and me finishing a trip around the bases. No matter, my memory is stronger than that long-ago film.

That dairy was amazing in those days. Ballfields everywhere – softball and baseball – with a quarter-midget race track, a velodrome, picnic area and all sorts of other things that made it delightful, year-round. Later at Alpenrose, my son attended, then worked at, the long-running Metro Baseball School, run by Jack Dunn and Roy Love – a camp that helped thousands of young kids learn the basics of the game. Later, the Little League softball World Series set up shop at Alpenrose and found it a perfect home.

And I guess that’s why my heart hurt when I heard about the family controversy that is putting the dairy and its facilities at risk. On Wednesday of this week, a judge will decide whether to grant in injunction to family members who want to stop a possible sale of the dairy. It’s the heart of a family feud that has torn apart the Cadonau family, the owners of the business and the property it sits on.

I understand the situation but I hate it when money divides a family. Yes, that land is worth millions, but so are the memories and the future ones yet to be made at Alpenrose. I would hope that an injunction and cooling off period would provide time to find a solution that would please all concerned. Maybe even enough time for enough money to be raised to save the kids' part of it, as it stands now.

That place is an important part of Portland – in the past, the present and, hopefully, the future.

And I confess, I’d like to see a lot more boys and girls get a chance to feel what I felt on that trip around the bases, so many years ago in what has always been a very special ballpark.

From the Ivory Coast to PSU, this Romeo is turning heads on the football field

From the Ivory Coast to PSU, this Romeo is turning heads on the football field

Just getting to Portland State University was a long journey for Romeo Gunt.

So when you see that the 5-10, 190-pounder, who appears to have muscles on his muscles, made 15 tackles last weekend in the Vikings’ one-touchdown defeat in front of about 61,000 people at Arkansas, you figure it wasn’t the most difficult task he’s accomplished in life. That the reigning Big Sky Conference defensive player of the week found his way to Portland in the first place is nothing short of amazing.

And the whole thing about even playing football is a bit of a surprise, too.

You see, Gunt’s mother was a professional soccer player and he spent the first seven years of his life in Ivory Coast, a country on the south coast of west Africa, where he spoke only French.

But his family moved to Philadelphia and he found football because his mother enjoyed watching the Eagles play on television. He played his high school ball at a charter school and didn’t get a lot of exposure, so when he was looking for a place to play in college, he was advised to find a junior college – where more people could see him in action. He ended up at Los Angeles Valley JC, where he made the dean’s list and second-team all-conference.

After junior college, he was recruited by Portland State and fell in love with the city and coaching staff.

The rest has been history. Installed as the team’s rover back, where Coach Bruce Barnum gives Gunt the freedom to use his instinct for the ball, he was the team’s third-leading tackler last season and, by the way, was an academic all-league selection.

There are still aspirations of playing pro football after that, but he’s working toward a degree in sociology.

He was a very enjoyable interview and I think you will find the accompanying video entertaining.

Meet The Seattle Dragons: The Emerald City’s new XFL franchise

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The Seattle Dragons

Meet The Seattle Dragons: The Emerald City’s new XFL franchise

“Really...the Dragons?”

“Why the heck did they name Seattle’s XFL team the Dragons?”

These were just a few of the mutters I heard around Seattle today as the Emerald City’s new XFL team officially debuted its name and logo. Drum roll please...introducing The Seattle Dragons. 

So, why the Dragons of all mystical creatures? According to president Ryan Gustafson, the team wanted to create “something that was unique, but also part of the entire brand that represents the community of Seattle, with the imagery of the water, the city and just the fierceness of the character.”

Well, Seattle’s XFL franchise certainly created something. Here's a look at the team's mantra: 

Rising from the turbulent sea. Beneath the darkening skies of their weather-hardened home. Relentless, ruthless, ravenous. Not of mythology, but of muscle and might. Not of folklore, but of football. This is your darkest fantasy, in cleats. The Seattle Dragons. Breathing fire.

The XFL rolled out names and logos for all of its teams on Wednesday, including the the New York Guardians, the Tampa Bay Vipers,  the St. Louis Battle Hawks, the Los Angeles Wildcats, the Houston Roughnecks, the Dallas Renegades and the DC Defenders.

The professional football league, which lasted just one year in 2001, announced its rebirth last December. Seattle was named one of eight cities for the revamped league, which will hold games at CenturyLink Field in February 2020.

Sprague All-Stars to represent Northwest in Little League Baseball World Series

Sprague All-Stars to represent Northwest in Little League Baseball World Series

Oregon's Sprague All-Stars beat Idaho's Coeur d’Alene All-Stars on Saturday to punch their ticket to the Little League Baseball World Series (LLBWS). 

The win almost didn't happen. Sprague trailed Coeur d’Alene 4-3 in the final inning but managed to score two runs in the top of the sixth to take the lead and eventually win the game.

In winning the Northwest region Sprague becomes just the seventh team from the state of Oregon to advance to the LLBWS. Even more impressive, according to the Statesman Journal, this is the first time a team from the Salem area has advances this far. 

The LLBWS has already released the playoff bracket, and Sprague will be playing the winner of the Mid-Atlantic region, New Jersey's Elmora Youth Little League, in the first round. 

The LLBWS starts on Augusts 15th, with Sprague's opener against Mid-Atlantic being played on the 16th.

Portland Diamond Project knocks down another task

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portland diamond project

Portland Diamond Project knocks down another task

The quest towards bringing another professional sports team to the city of Portland is continuing to chug along. This morning, the Portland Diamond Project announced that they are joining the Oregon AFL-CIO and other related unions. According to the organization’s press release, it is the first of its kind for Oregon area sports venues. 

Oregon AFL-CIO President Tom Chamberlain explained the significance of this agreement in the quote below: 

“By signing this agreement, the Portland Diamond Project has shown us they value and respect the rights of working people and care for the prosperity of the community,” said Oregon AFL-CIO President Tom Chamberlain. “Oregon’s unions are proud to be a part of the efforts to bring baseball to the Rose City and to be a part of the only unionized sports arena in the state of Oregon.  By giving workers the unfettered opportunity for union representation, we are securing a bright economic future for the women and men who will make baseball happen in Portland. When working people stand together in unions, we get a fair return on our hard work.”

The deal includes a variety of potential team employees, including concession workers, hospitality services, the sales team, and security employees. 

Founded in 2017, the Portland Diamond Project has been aggressively looking to bring a professional baseball team to Portland. Led by Craig Cheek (former Nike executive) and Mike Barrett (former Portland Trail Blazers broadcaster), the group has brought on some big names, such as Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, Ciara, and big baseball names Darwin Barney, Dale Murphy, and Larry D’Amato.

Current MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred has been open about a new MLB market, either through relocation or expansion teams.