A Look Back At Joevin Jones In The 2016 MLS Cup Playoffs

 

 

Joevin Jones and the Seattle Sounders are back in the MLS Cup Playoffs and are looking to defend their title starting this Sunday against the Vancouver Whitecaps

Last postseason, Jones was a pivotal cog in the Seattle Sounders squad that saw him provide 3 assists on their way to the MLS Cup final. He also put away a spot kick in the penalty shootout that would help solidify their place as MLS Champions.

Going into this season, Joevin once again proved that he was one of the best right backs in MLS. Along with his defensive duties, he piled up 11 assists this season along with a goal. The 11 assists rank him as the only defender in the top 20 assist leaders.

After this season, Jones will be heading to Germany to play for German second division club Darmstadt.

Let’s look back on his key moments in last year’s MLS Playoffs and we wish the best for him in Germany in January.

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Things To Look Out For In The 2017-18 NBA Regular Season

The preseason is finally over so now we can finally say, “Welcome back NBA!”  The season officially kicks off tonight and it expects to continue its momentum from the exciting and unpredictable offseason that was. The migration of talent to the West, the Fallout-like dystopia that is the Eastern Conference, the youth movement going on in different teams, old faces in new places and the foregone conclusion that the Warriors are going to win the NBA Championship. Cover Image

There are a lot of things to look forward to this season, so lets look at the main highlight points for this new NBA season

 

THE DOGFIGHT OUT WEST

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SO. MUCH. STAR-POWER!!

I’m so glad that the commissioner made the All-Star game into a pick your team format because I’ll be hard pressed to choose an All-Star team from this conference. This offseason, the Western Conference, excluding the Warriors whose main offseason transactions were re-signing Steph Curry to a max deal and retaining Kevin Durant, were in an arms race in order to either compete against the Warriors (Spurs, Rockets, Thunder), jostle for position and try to breakthrough into the playoffs, such as the Timberwolves and the Nuggets.

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So many things I wanna ask: How many games the Warriors gonna win? How will CP3 and the Beard co-exist in Houston? How will  Westbrook, PG and Melo ration the ball and how far can they go? Can Kawhi possibly be the MVP this year and how good the Spurs will be without making any major additions? We’ll get to the rest of the West in a bit, but know that the Western Conference will develop into an all-out war, especially coming down the line for the playoffs.

 

 

THE OTHER CONFERENCE

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Harsh headline? Yeah.

Let’s face it. The migration of talent from the East to the West has left the Eastern Conferences in a shambolic and confused state. While the usual suspects will be fighting for the top 4 spots, the rest of the East will be fighting it out for the remaining spots. Chances are that the East may have a whole different look come playoff time. I have the Celtics winning in the East (*Chris Rock voice*: YEAH I SAID IT!) over the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The Wizards and Raptors will be the Wizards and Raptors, and I believe Giannis and the Bucks take the next step. Heck, we’re looking at an Eastern Conference that could see the Sixers could fight for a sixth seed (if nobody breaks a bone)! The East is the weaker conference but it will still have its own exciting battles down the stretch in terms of playoff placement.

OLD FACES IN NEW PLACES

Old Faces in New Places!

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This offseason saw a lot of shock moves and crazy trades which could possibly turn the Association upside down.

Clear winners of the offseason went to Sam Presti and the Oklahoma City Thunder, managing to steal Paul George away from the Lakers, Cavs and the Celtics and orchestrating a trade that freed Carmelo Anthony from the Knicks. Imagine that: They turned Domantas Sabonis, Victor Oladipo, Doug McDermott, Enes Kanter and a Chicago 2nd Round pick into this:

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For Sam Presti to lure two big name guys away from destinations such as Cleveland, Boston and Houston, how could you not be impressed by that?

2nd place goes to the Celtics who finally dipped into their assets to make the shocking Kyrie Irving trade who requested out of Cleveland, sending Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and the Nets 2018 1st Round Pick. Add to that, winning the Gordon Hayward sweepstakes and now the Celtics look like they (at least in my eyes) could be the team that faces the Warriors in the Finals.

Jae Crowder is expected to be a starter in Cleveland with Isaiah Thomas, who won’t see the court until January with a hip injury. Now LeBron’s stuck with a potential injured reserve list with him, Derrick Rose in his place and Dwayne Wade starting on the team.

Chris Paul orchestrated a trade out of Houston with Beverly, Lou Williams and a host of others to the Clippers, joining Danilo Gallinari who was also traded there from Denver. With “rookie” Miloš Teodosić coming over from Serbia with his amazing court vision and affinity for being unable to throw a simple chest pass, the Clippers team won’t lack in the entertainment department.

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Speaking of Denver, they replaced the Rooster with Paul Millsap who ended his tenure with the Atlanta Hawks. Jimmy Butler and Jeff Teague are now  Timberwolves and Rajon Rondo is a Pelican. Zach Randolph and Vince Carter are now with the Kings, Brook Lopez is a Laker. Jonathon Simmons is a Magic (*sniffles*), Rudy Gay’s a Spur and a partridge in a pear tree.

 

The Rookies and Youth Movements Across The League

 

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This year we’ll see one of the most talented rookie classes in Association history. #1 Overall Pick Markelle Fultz, and Ben Simmons who was injured last season will look to help to push The Process in Philadelphia to a playoff spot.

Lakers have Lonzo Ball running the point, and along with Simmons will be a contender for Rookie of the Year. Be on the lookout for Kyle Kuzma as well, who’s shown flashes of promise in the preseason.

Jayson Tatum’s in Boston and is part of a young talented 2nd unit, that also contains highly touted international prospect Guerschon Yabusele and 2nd round pick Semi Ojeyle

Dennis Smith Jr.’s will be jumping out of the American Airlines Arena all season.

Sacramento has a good mix of experienced players and young talent with rookies De’Aaron Fox, Justin Jackson, Harry Giles and Frank Mason III.

The youth movement in Phoenix continues with Josh Jackson being added to a team that already contains talented players like Devon Booker, Tyler Ulis, Derrick Jones Jr. and Marquese Chriss.

D’Angelo Russell who was part of the trade that sent Brook Lopez to L.A., looks to be the main guy on a Nets team that finished last in their conference and looking to climb up the rankings.

We already talked about Miloš Teodosić and the Clippers and then there’s the rebuild in Chicago with Kris Dunn, Zach Lavine and rookie Lauri Markkannen coming over from Minnesota to play alongside Bobby Portis and Denzel Valentine.

WHO WILL BE THIS SEASON’S MVP?

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As always the MVP debate will he hot and heavy throughout the year. LeBron will always be a contender, especially with the team that he has to play with this year. Either Curry or Durant can dominate a game by themselves.

Can Russell Westbrook go for back to back MVPs? He won’t have a season like the Triple-Double show he had last season because he has help this year but he’ll be as tenacious as ever.

Last year’s runner-up James Harden will look to once again prove that he is deserving of getting that award.

Kawhi Leonard was a finalist last year. Can he become more productive to finally earn an MVP award?

One dark horse pick I have: Giannis Antetokounmpo. Last year he led his team in points, assists, rebounds, steals and blocks, becoming the 5th player in NBA history to achieve this feat. Maybe he can push the Bucks to a high seed and shock the NBA in winning the award.

The season kicks off tonight with the Rockets and Warriors and the more intriguing game, Celtics and Cavaliers with Kyrie and LeBron going against each other for the first time since 2014-15 season. So Merry Opening Night everyone! Let’s enjoy what promises to be an exciting NBA season!

 

From Expansion Team To Playoff Contender: Atlanta United F.C. Is For Real

When I first started watching Major League Soccer, my initial reason was to cover the Trinidad and Tobago players that were playing in the different teams, such as last year’s MLS champion Joevin Jones in Seattle, Cordell Cato with the Earthquakes, Kevin Molino in his new team in Minnesota, and Kenwyne Jones in the expansion team, Atlanta United.

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Jones and the Sounders have had an up and down season with some spectacular come-from-behind finishes, the Loons in Minnesota have been getting better by the game and Molino has proven to be one of the main guys there, Cato, while haven’t seeing the field much, he’s been decent off the bench, and Kenwyne, who, for Atlanta, has not been able to make a significant impact, due to injury and Atlanta simply having better options at the front.

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But of all the teams listed, Atlanta United to me, since the season started, have not looked like an expansion team at all. From the jump, the Five Stripes have been in my eyes,one of the most exciting teams in the MLS, and since moving into the new Mercedes-Benz Arena, they’ve looked nearly unstoppable. After starting the season with a loss against the New York Red Bulls at home, they went to a winter wonderland up in Minnesota, field almost blanketed in snow, Atlanta ran rampant against their fellow expansion team Minnesota United. Atlanta looked like a well established MLS club, putting 6 goals on Molino’s team. From then on, only Toronto FC have scored more goals this season than Atlanta United (Toronto: 67, Atlanta: 63).

 

The team starts with former Barcelona manager Gerardo “Tata” Martino, known for his fast-paced, high-pressed, counter-attacking brand of football. His main guy is Venezuelan Josef Martinez, the loanee from Torino, who will now play for Atlanta United for the forseeable future, who fits the system set by Tata. In 16 games played, he’s scored 17 goals, including 8 goals in 5 matches since Atlanta United started playing in the new stadium.

 

Even when he went down during the middle of the season with a Hamstring Injury, Tata still had other attacking options such as the creative Paraguayan, Miguel Almiron, the speedy Argentine wingers Argentine Héctor “Tito” Villalba and loanee Yamil Asad, who scored Atlanta United’s  inaugural goal against the Red Bulls. Add to that a steady midfield options such as Julian Gressel, Carlos Carmona, defenders like Anton Walkes, Michael Parkhurst and Greg Garza, and Brad Guzan who splits time with Tim Howard as the goalkeeper on USMNT, it’s a stacked roster that has taken Atlanta United on the brink of the MLS post-season in their first season.
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One more thing that has impressed me with the franchise it’s the huge fan support that Atlanta United has garnered leading up and during their inaugural season. Owner Arthur Blank, who also owns the Atlanta Falcons in the NFL, had a vision of soccer in the south and made it a reality. Team President Darren Eales did a great job with front office decisions. Tata Martino compiled the roster and the players delivered. The fanbase one one of the biggest and most loyal in the league already, so much that even the local rappers and DJs have been seen sporting the Five Stripes.
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The football culture is something to behold down in Atlanta, Georgia and if the team keeps the momentum up this season, we could have a dark horse for the MLS Cup in December.