Seattle again finds itself in huge playoff hole

Seattle again finds itself in huge playoff hole

TUKWILA, Wash. (AP) The lesson was supposed to have been learned a year ago, when one lapse during the MLS Cup playoffs and one extra goal did make all the difference for the Seattle Sounders.

Clearly, it wasn't.

``We found ourselves in the same exact situation right now so we didn't learn from anything,'' Seattle midfielder Brad Evans said.

For the second straight year, the Sounders go into a second-leg postseason home game facing a 3-0 deficit and knowing how unlikely it will be to advance. The Sounders face Los Angeles in the second leg of the Western Conference finals on Sunday night, with the winner possibly in line to host the MLS Cup final on Dec. 1 thanks to Houston's 3-1 lead in the Eastern Conference finals.

There's a reason this feels so familiar to Seattle, and not in a good way. Last year, Seattle lost 3-0 to Real Salt Lake in a sloppy performance in the first leg of the conference semifinals. Seattle made a furious rally in the second leg, winning 2-0, but falling short in the aggregate.

Now Seattle finds itself back in the same circumstance.

``The only thing we learned from that game is you just have to bust it. You never know what is going to happen in a game and if you let down, let your guard down for one second, good teams are going to bite you and that's what happened again this past weekend,'' Evans said. ``The only thing we can take from last year's game at home against Salt Lake is we played desperate, we played like a team with our backs up against the wall. That's it.''

Seattle's problem in the first leg with Los Angeles was playing with a conservative approach and a massive defensive lapse at the wrong time. Seattle tried to control possession in the midfield and convert on whatever chances it could create.

Instead, it was the Galaxy with chances galore and converting their opportunities around Seattle's goal. Los Angeles scored twice in three minutes early in the second half and the Sounders were lucky not to be looking at a larger deficit coming home.

``They could have taken six or seven (goals),'' Evans said.

In the return leg, Seattle knows it has to be aggressive and press for scoring chances, while also not giving up any more opportunities to the Galaxy, who could be the best team at launching quick counters with David Beckham, Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane.

``If we can keep Keane quiet and Donovan quiet, I think those two guys have a lot to do with their success lately, along with Beckham and Mike McGee. If we can keep those guys quiet we've got a really good chance of making this a reality,'' Seattle forward Eddie Johnson said.

Seattle is likely to have Johnson for a full 90 minutes on Sunday and get some minutes out of midfielder Mauro Rosales, who missed the first game with an injury. Johnson had the Sounders' first goal in a 4-0 rout of the Galaxy in Seattle in August.

If having a 4-0 win over the Galaxy isn't inspiration enough, they could look back about a decade.

In 2003, San Jose trailed Los Angeles 2-0 entering the second leg of the conference semifinals, only to give up two early goals and go down 4-0 on aggregate. Then came the most shocking rally in MLS playoff history, with the Earthquakes chipping away and eventually pulling even at 4-4 on aggregate with a goal in the 90th minute. San Jose completed the comeback when Rodrigo Faria scored in the sixth minute of extra time.

The coach of that Los Angeles team? Current Seattle coach Sigi Schmid.

``Obviously, in the ideal scenario you want to get a goal early. You want to get a goal in the first third of the game, at least, then try and get one again, then really be able to push forward in the second half. That's the ideal scenario, but that doesn't always happen for you,'' Schmid said. ``The important thing is, like I said, not to go out and panic and say, `Oh geez, if we don't get a goal in the first 15-20 minutes of the game, it's all over,' or you open yourself up and you expose yourself.''

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We can’t stop staring at these Bowie Baysox commemorative moon landing jerseys


We can’t stop staring at these Bowie Baysox commemorative moon landing jerseys

One of the coolest things about Minor League Baseball is the creativity that comes with it.

The stadiums. The ice cream deals. The interesting mascots. And most importantly, the uniforms.

The Bowie Baysox, the Double-A affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles, released special uniforms they will be wearing on Saturday for the 50th anniversary of the Moon Landing.

And, oh wow, are they something. Take a look.

On the front of the uniform, you can see the image of where lunar module pilot Buzz Aldrin planted the American flag on the lunar surface of the moon. On the back, a satellite view of the moon is pictured, with the player's number on top of it. Both the number and the cursive "Baysox" on the front are filled in with the American flag.

If you're looking for some to do on Saturday, go support the Baysox and their Moon Landing uniforms. If only there was a jersey giveaway.


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A big Year 2 ahead, Lamar Jackson isn’t worried about Madden ratings

A big Year 2 ahead, Lamar Jackson isn’t worried about Madden ratings

The number eight is sports royalty in the city of Baltimore thanks to Cal Ripken Jr.

If Lamar Jackson has the career many are hoping for, he’ll be another reason for that one day down the road.

For now, he’s a young, athletic quarterback entering his second season in Charm City. But his successful rookie year hasn’t been reflected in Madden NFL 20’s newest ratings.

Jackson came in with an overall rating of 76, tied for 24th among all quarterbacks. Unsurprisingly, his athleticism is highly-regarded, as he leads all signal-callers in speed, acceleration, agility, and elusiveness.

Questions abound about his throwing abilities, leading to the low rating. But that’s not a concern for Jackson himself.

“I can’t feel no way,” the quarterback told media members prior to throwing out the first pitch at the Orioles-Nationals game Wednesday night. “You know, I don’t make Madden. That’s them. But I feel like our team, we’re going to show ‘em this season.”

Jackson continued to praise the Ravens roster. When asked about the high ratings for teammates like Marquise “Hollywood” Brown and Earl Thomas, Jackson put his thoughts quite succinctly: “We look stacked!”

Of course, with speed and acceleration ratings like Jackson has, it’s fun to imagine how he might fit in on a baseball diamond as well.

“Whew, somewhere in the middle, to make a play,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde decided when asked where the Ravens quarterback might play on his roster.

“I’m looking forward to meeting him. I’m a big football fan, so watched him play a lot. And if he wanted to play center field or up the middle, it’d be great,” Hyde continued.

The speedy quarterback agreed, though it came with a caveat.

“Probably,” Jackson quickly answered when asked about his best fit being center field. “But you know, I’m the Ravens QB right now, so I’m good.”

He doesn’t know what his walk-up song would be if he played baseball, but Jackson was definitive about one thing at least: his hot dog preferences.

“I don’t really eat mustard,” he emphasized. “So I just put ketchup, relish...I just go from there. Pretty standard.”

When he’s not eating hot dogs, Jackson is working hard to build chemistry with his new receiving corps, and he seemed optimistic about the results it will bring on the field.

“Looking pretty good,” he described. “You’ll have to see for yourself.”

Knowing how many dual Orioles and Ravens fans there are in Baltimore, Jackson was also happy to provide a little hope as the city’s attention starts to shift from baseball to football. He gave a message to O’s fans who have sat through months of losing baseball and are looking to the Ravens to bring winning back to the city.

“Look forward to us coming out and balling,” he said. “Can’t say too much right now, [the] season’s not here!”

The Ravens season will be here soon enough, and when it is, Jackson will be ready to go out and show both local and national fans what he can do, regardless of what his Madden rating says.