MLS PreGame Report: D.C. United vs. Chicago Fire

Here is a pregame report for my first ever soccer game I will be traveling to:

The Chicago Fire (1-2-3, 6 points) are looking to escape the basement of the Eastern Conference as they matchup with D.C. United (2-3-3, 9 points) on Saturday, April 30th at Toyota Park. It is still early in the season, but the Fire need every win they can get in order to stay relevant in their conference. D.C. United is currently in the hunt for the top, sitting at 9 points; 4 points behind the Montreal Impact in the standings.

The Fire are coming off of a heartbreaking loss to the Montreal Impact; where Montreal’s Ignacio Piatti scored the game clinching goal during stoppage time in the second half. Kennedy Igobananike scored the Fire’s lone goal in the 29th minute of the match, but it was not enough, as Didier Drogba and Piatti sealed the deal for Montreal with goals in the 56th and 91st minutes respectively.

D.C. United are walking into Toyota Park with a little extra confidence after a decisive 3-0 victory over the New England Revolution. D.C. United picked up their first goal in the first half, with Lamar Neagle scoring in the 33rd minute off of a penalty kick. They were able to ice the game late in the second half, with Luciano Acosta and Alvaro Saborio scoring goals in the 86th and 90th minutes respectively.

The Fire are going to be without forward David Accam for this match, who will sit out with a knee sprain he sustained earlier in the season. He was expected to be a pivotal part of the Fire’s squad this year before his injury, scoring 2 goals in his first 3 weeks.

D.C. United will be without a few of their starters on Saturday, including GK Bill Hamid who is out for 4-6 months with a torn meniscus. The club will also be without their backup GK Andrew Dykstra, who is expected to be out 10-12 weeks after having back surgery on March 18th.

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KSherman’s 2015-2016 NBA Regular Season Awards

This was such a special year in the NBA, a year that will go down in history as one of the greatest seasons in league history. For one, the Golden State Warriors were in pursuit of the storied ’95-’96 Bulls record of 72-10. Then, you have the living legend, Kobe Bryant, making his retirement tour that ended with a 60 point CLASSIC against the Utah Jazz. With this and all of the other moments of the year, it’s time for the second annual KSherman NBA Regular Season Awards.

Surprise Team Of The Year: The Portland Trail Blazers are the obvious choice for this award with the way they proved to the world they still have the talent to make a difference in the league. This past offseason, the Trail Blazers lost four of their five starters to free agency in Wesley Matthews, Nicolas Batum, LaMarcus Aldridge, and Robin Lopez. Once this happened, all eyes were on Damian Lillard to see if he can help lead this team back to the playoffs…..and he did just that. With the rise of CJ McCollum to a 20 PPG average, and the team playing as a cohesive unit, they were able to get the 5th seed in the playoffs. Playing the Clippers in the first round hasn’t been going very smoothly for them so far, but this team is just a few pieces away from becoming contenders in this league. Because of this, this is why the Trail Blazers deserve this award.

Biggest Disappointment: The Chicago Bulls didn’t make a single damn move before the season as they kept their squad relatively the same. No wait, I take that back, they did fire one of the best coaches in Bulls history in favor of Coach Fred Hoiberg; former Head Coach at Iowa State. And how did they fair? A 42-40 record and missing the playoffs for the first time in eight seasons. This should have NOT happened. If you are keeping basically the same team, but changing coaches, that new coach better be worth a damn and your team should still be playoff contenders. But that didn’t happen, so that is why the Chicago Bulls get my “Biggest Disappointment” award.

Moment For The Ages: The Kobe Bryant retirement tour ended in amazing fashion, with “The Mamba” putting up 60 points on the Utah Jazz to help lead the Lakers to a win in their regular season finale. During this game, the crowd came to see “Vintage Kobe,” and they got “Vintage Kobe.” But that’s not the moment I am talking about, oh no! With the 60 points aside, the moment that I am referring to is the ovation that Kobe received after he was subbed out with four seconds left in the game. It wasn’t any normal kind of ovation, it was a special kind of ovation. The loyal Laker fans were cheering for a purpose, in admiration for a legend leaving the floor for a final time, wearing the storied purple and gold that he wore for 20 years. If you get a chance, just look for footage of that moment and watch, because words do not do it justice. It was a Moment For The Ages, and that is why that moment deserves the “Moment For The Ages” award.

Now did I miss any teams? Did I miss any moments? Are there any awards that I should have added in? Let me know in the comments below, on Facebook, or tweet me at @KShermanSports. Thank You!

 

NCAA National Championship Postgame Report: A Fan’s Game

What just transpired in the National Championship game between the Tar Heels of North Carolina and the Wildcats of Villanova was so intense, that I am genuinely sorry if you missed it. To start, with 13 seconds left in the game and down 74-71, Marcus Paige and the Tar Heels marched down the court, where Paige knocked proceeded to knock down an off-balanced prayer that knotted the game up at 74 all with four seconds left. But the Wildcats weren’t going away that easy, as junior Kris Jenkins of Villanova drained the buzzer-beating dagger as time expired that won the Wildcats their first National Title since 1985.

As a team, Villanova shot 58% from the field and 57% from 3-point land; lead by sophomore Phil Booth and senior Ryan Arcidiacano, who shot 85% and 66% from the field respectively. Throughout the tournament, this team had one of the most memorable runs to a championship in history, basically shooting the lights out every time they stepped on the floor. But, with Villanova’s inability to capitalize on the glass; losing the offense rebound battle 16-2, the Tar Heels were able to keep it close throughout the entire game.

On the other side, North Carolina had one of the best 3-point shooting performances of the season during the National Championship; shooting 64.7% from behind the arc. The Tar Heels had been shooting a measly 32% from three the entire year; but they found another gear and were able to rain down shots from deep throughout. This surge in three point efficiency allowed North Carolina to actually stay in this game, even after they trailed off and allowed Villanova to come back in the second half.

(…and so on, and so on with the statistics).

The point is, I can throw statistics your way all day long to show who did good where, etc… But the truth is, this was anyone’s game from beginning to end. Villanova and North Carolina were closely matched from the start, with North Carolina being favored by only 2 points going into the contest.

The fact that this came down to two crucial threes in the closing seconds was the perfect closing point to a tournament that fans, like myself, were hoping for. That’s what a National Championship game is supposed to be like; a game with intensity and drama right down to the end. This was a “Fan’s Game,” and I sure-as-hell am going to remember it for a long time.

2016 NCAA Tournament: My Final Four Preview

My bracket has been ROYALLY screwed ever since the first round. You all know what game I’m talking about, when Michigan State (an arguable #1 seed for the tournament) got their butts handed to them by the 15th seed Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders. In fact, the Spartans of Michigan State didn’t even lead once that game, which was one of the most surprising part. But, that’s why they call it March Madness. Anything can happen in this tournament, and you just need to expect the unexpected.

Now, we are heading into the closing weekend of the tournament. The weekend where we see some of the “closest” matchups; (closest is use very loosely this year). So what should you expect from this final four? Well let’s take a look;

#10 Syracuse vs. #1 North Carolina: Syracuse is going to get their asses kicked…period. The Orange have had a nice little run while it’s lasted, but the Tar Heels are going to demolish them in their Final Four matchup this Saturday just like they’ve been doing to the rest of the opponents they’ve faced.

North Carolina won all of their games by double-digits since the beginning of the tourney, averaging 89 points per contest throughout the tournament. Having said that, they will win YET AGAIN by double digits on Sunday against a 10 seed like Syracuse. Now, don’t get me wrong, I know that the Indiana and Notre Dame games were some-what close at points. But UNC had the ability to close out the game when it meant the most in order to move on to the next round.

If you’ve been reading my articles in the past, I’m normally a person that would give some kind of belief/life to the idea that the other team has a chance. But in this situation, I do not see that happening AT ALL! Syracuse has been playing with a chip on their shoulder after all the negative comments from fans and the media about how they should not have been there. But a “chip” is not going to get them past a juggernaut of a program like North Carolina. Honestly, if Michigan State actually played like Michigan State should have, Syracuse wouldn’t have even made it out of the second round; let alone to the Final Four.

In the end, I have the Tar Heels moving on to the National Championship, winning by a score of 76-62.

#2 Villanova vs. #2 Oklahoma: If you had to choose, and you want to watch a close ball game this weekend, then this would be the one for you. Villanova and Oklahoma have been playing some amazing basketball recently, and this game has all the makings of a classic Final Four matchup.

Villanova has been playing some stellar basketball as of late; averaging 82 points on 55% shooting from the field; not to mention their great defense where they’ve only given up 63 points per game. Defense is going to be one of the key factors to ‘Novas success, as most of the offense for the Sooners has gone through Player of the Year candidate Buddy Hield. If they can stop Buddy, then the Wildcats should have this game on lock! But, that’s easier said than done.

Buddy Hield, Buddy Hield, Buddy Hield! So far this tournament it has been the “Buddy Hield Show,” with Hield averaging 29.3 points per game over his span of four tournament games. In fact, Hield has scored about 36% of the Sooners TOTAL points throughout the first four games. For Oklahoma to have a chance against Villanova, they are going to need to have the whole squad contributing greatly to the cause. It can’t just be the “Buddy Show” when playing against a hot-shooting team like Villanova.

In the end, I am a fan of Buddy Hield, and I really want to see him succeed. But, I think the defense of Villanova will keep him in check and stop the “Sooner Schooner” in it’s tracks; winning 65-60.