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Season of disappointment for the Timbers

Season of disappointment for the Timbers

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) While it was a disappointing second season for the Portland Timbers, there is reason for hope.

Portland will soon see the arrival of new coach Caleb Porter, who is wrapping up his seventh season as head coach of the University of Akron. Porter was hired by the Timbers in August, after the dismissal of coach John Spencer.

The Timbers also claimed the Cascadia Cup, which goes annually to the winner of the three-way competition with the rival Seattle Sounders and the Vancouver Whitecaps.

Portland finished up the season 8-16-10, ranked second-to-last in Major League Soccer's Western Conference and falling far short of the team's goal to reach the playoffs. The year was capped by a 1-1 draw with the playoff-bound San Jose Earthquakes this past Saturday.

``Of course it didn't go the way we wanted,'' forward Bright Dike said about the season. ``But if you look at how we faired against San Jose, the best team in the league, we have a win and two ties this year. So this team is not really far off. I hope next year we can grind out better wins against teams we should have beat.''

Porter will be the first step. This season he has guided the second-ranked Zips to a 13-1-2 record with two matches remaining. Akron has already clinched its eighth straight Mid-American Conference regular season title.

Porter, 37, led the Zips to the national championship in 2010, in the second of back-to-back appearances in the College Cup.

While Spencer was popular with the fans, the Timbers dismissed him on July 9 and replaced him for the remainder of the season with general manager Gavin Wilkinson. At the time, owner Merritt Paulson insisted that the decision was not purely record-driven, characterized the issue as ``some fundamental philosophical differences.

Wilkinson joined the Timbers in 2001 as a player when the team was part of the USL First Division. He was coach of the second-division Timbers from 2007-10 and was an assistant with the Houston Dynamo for five seasons before coming to Portland.

Wilkinson's stint as interim coach this season did not yield a team turnaround. Sprinkled in the crowd at home games were signs reading ``GW Out.''

But in the end Wilkinson said the team will learn from the struggles they've had this season.

``There are a lot of lessons. As a club and organization, we are continually trying to manage the character of the group. The mentality of building on that is something we will look forward to,'' he said. ``This team had a lot of diversity with this season, but winning the Cascadia Cup and coming back for the draw really puts this club at the top of what they can be this year.''

Portland claimed the Cascadia Cup with a 1-0 victory over the Whitecaps in their second-to-last match. Captain Jack Jewsbury scored in the 39th minute.

It was the Timbers' first victory on the road and ended a six-match losing streak.

Portland finished 3-1-2 against its Pacific Northwest rivals to take the fan-created Cascadia Cup competition. Seattle was 2-1-3, and Vancouver 0-3-3.

``It's tremendous for the fans,'' Wilkinson said. ``They thoroughly deserve it, everything aside it's something that they thoroughly deserved. It's been a long season for them and it's been a long season for the organization, and while this doesn't remove some of the things that have happened over the course of the season, it's a positive and it's something we can take into next season.''

As for those fans: The Timbers' supporters have not lost their fervor for the team. Paulson said that there's a 96 percent season ticket renewal rate for next season. Portland currently has a waiting list of about 7,500 fans for the 14,750 season tickets.

The team handed out its final awards at a banquet on Sunday. Midfielder Diego Chara was the players' player of the year as well as the supporters' player of the year. Kris Boyd won the Golden Boot as team's top scorer with seven goals this season.

Midfielder Eric Alexander won the team's Unsung Hero award, while defender David Horst was the team's community player. Jewsbury's goal against the Whitecaps was the play of the year.

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Wizards 2018 NBA Draft prospect profile: Aaron Holiday

Wizards 2018 NBA Draft prospect profile: Aaron Holiday

The Washington Wizards hold the 15th and 44th overall picks in the 2018 NBA Draft. Here is the latest in our series on draft prospects projected to be picked around where the Wizards will select...

2018 NBA Draft Wizards Prospect Preview: Aaron Holiday

School: UCLA
Position: Point guard
Age: 21 (turns 22 in Sept.)
Height: 6-1
Weight: 187
Wingspan: 6-8
Max vertical: 33

2017/18 stats: 20.3 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 5.8 apg, 1.3 spg, 0.2 bpg, 46.1 FG%, 42.9 3PT% (2.7 3PT/6.2 3PA), 82.8 FT%
Player comparison: Darren Collison
Projections: NBC Sports Washington 19th, NBADraft.net 24th, Bleacher Report 23rd, Sports Illustrated 23rd

5 things to know:

*Holiday played big minutes in all three seasons for the Bruins. As a junior, he broke out as an elite scorer, averaging 20.3 points while also dishing 5.8 assists per game. Holiday scored in a variety of ways, including at the free throw line where he averaged 5.8 attempts per game and knocked them down at 82.8 percent.

*He is a terrific three-point shooter, one of the best in this draft class based on his college numbers. He hit 42.9 percent of his shots and on 6.2 attempts per game. Holiday shot 42.2 percent from long range in his three-year college career and never shot below 41 percent in a season. He had some games where teams just couldn't stop him from long range. He made four threes or more in 13 college games. Twice he went 5-for-5 and he once made six threes against USC.

*Though he has the skillset to play off the ball as a shooting guard, his size will limit him at the NBA level. Holiday is just under 6-foot-1 in shoes and doesn't have the vertical leap to make up for it. He does, however, have a plus wingspan. At this point, Holiday seems to be solely a point guard, though as long as he's good at the position there is nothing wrong with that.

*Holiday worked out for the Wizards at Capital One Arena. He was part of their first week of predraft workouts and by all accounts had an impressive visit. He hit a lot of shots and fared well in the interview process.

*Holiday has two brothers currently in the NBA. Jrue is a former All-Star who starts at point guard for the New Orleans Pelicans. Justin is a shooting guard for the Chicago Bulls. His sister-in-law, Lauren, is a former member of the U.S. women's national soccer team.

Fit with Wizards: The Wizards already have a point guard in John Wall, so Holiday would have no long-term path to starting. That said, he would shore up a need the Wizards have been trying to address for years.

Backup point guard has been a real void for the Wizards for most of Wall's tenure. This past season they tried out all sorts of options between Tomas Satoransky, Tim Frazier, Ramon Sessions and Ty Lawson. Though Satoransky remains on the roster, the Wizards don't appear content with their depth at the position.

Holiday's ability to hit threes is very attractive to the Wizards who could conceivably play him off-the-ball alongside Wall, or even Satoransky. Given Wall (6-4) and Satoransky (6-7) are taller than most point guards, they could theoretically guard shooting guards on the other end.

Holiday would add smarts and shooting to the Wizards' bench in the short-term. In the long-term, he could help lengthen Wall's career by taking some of his workload away and also give the Wizards more options once Wall enters his 30s.

Best highlight video:

More draft prospect profiles:

Kevin Knox, PF, Kentucky

Miles Bridges, SF, Michigan State

Robert Williams, PF/C, Texas A&M

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, PG, Kentucky

Zhaire Smith, SG, Texas Tech

Landry Shamet, PG/SG, Wichita State

Gary Trent, Jr., SG, Duke

Lonnie Walker IV, SG, Miami

Anfernee Simons, PG/SG, IMG Academy

Khyri Thomas, SG, Creighton

Chandler Hutchison, SG/SF, Boise State

Kevin Huerter, SG, Maryland

Mitchell Robinson, C, Western Kentucky

Troy Brown, SG/SF, Oregon

Donte DiVincenzo, SG, Villanova

Moritz Wagner, PF/C, Michigan

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Need to Know: The Redskins' best players who are 25 or younger

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Need to Know: The Redskins' best players who are 25 or younger

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, June 17, 39 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.  

The best Redskins players 25 or younger

Here is a look at the best Redskins players who have played at least one season and will be 25 or younger as of Week 1 this year. 

WR Jamison Crowder, 25 as of Week 1—Crowder hit the ground running in his first year, with 59 receptions, a team rookie record, and gaining 604 yards. He has been very dependable in his three years, averaging 64 catches, 747 yards, and four receiving touchdowns per year. 

OLB Preston Smith, 25—Since he came into the league, no player but Smith has at least 20.5 sacks, three or more interceptions, and four or more forced fumbles. His sack numbers tend to be up and down from week to week, but Jay Gruden has said more than once that Smith is very consistent in getting pressure on the quarterback even if he doesn’t always get home for the sack. 

DL Matt Ioannidis, 24—A year ago it was thought that he would face an uphill battle to make the 53-man roster. Now goes into the season as a starter and key contributor. The 2016 fifth-round pick got much stronger between his first and second seasons and he took well to the coaching of new defensive line coach Jim Tomsula. Only a broken hand that cost him two games and had him playing with an awkward cast for a few more kept him from threatening to make double-digit sacks. 

DL Jonathan Allen, 23—The Redskins were just starting to get a hint of what Allen could do early in the season. Pro Football Focus credited him with a total of three sacks in the Redskins third and fourth games. But in their fifth game, he suffered a foot injury that ended his season. Allen was a full go for the offseason program and there is no reason to think that he won’t pick back up right where he left off. 

S Montae Nicholson, 22—Like Allen, Nicholson’s rookie season was shortened due to injuries. He took advantage of the absence of anticipated starter Su’a Cravens and made an impact from the beginning. While the 2017 fourth-round pick and free-agent pickup D.J. Swearinger were in the lineup the decade-long struggles the Redskins have had at the safety position were suddenly gone. 

Best of the rest: WR Josh Doctson (25), C Chase Roullier (25)

It should be noted that DL Daron Payne turned 21 in May and RB Derrius Guice will the 21 later this month so they could be joining this list soon. Assuming those two start, the Redskins will have nine quality starters aged 25 or younger this year. 

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCSand on Instagram @RichTandler

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Timeline  

Redskins wide receiver Jamison Crowder was born on this date in 1993. 

Days until:

—Training camp starts (7/26) 39
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 53
—Roster cut to 53 (9/1) 76

The Redskins last played a game 166 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 84 days. 

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