Timbers have time to think it over
Portland has four of its next five games at home — and three of them are against top teams. Cleveland visits Moda Center on Thursday, Houston will be here on Tuesday, March 20, and Boston will play at the Blazers on Friday, March 23.
The Timbers have a week off — after deciding to treat their trip to New York to play the Red Bulls as an extension of that break in the schedule.
Saturday's 4-0 loss dropped the Timbers to 0-2. We knew this would be a challenging stretch, with five road games to open under new coach Giovanni Savarese, especially with a rebuilt midfield and the absence of Diego Chara. But the two games so far have to be troubling for a fan base that expects to be entertained and see its passion matched on the field.
From what we've seen, it's hard to imagine the return of Chara, whenever it comes, will solve everything. Still, the soccer season is a long one. For better or worse, the Timbers play three more road games, beginning at Dallas on March 24, before Savarese and Co. make their 2018 home debut on April 14.
• The Portland Thorns continue preparations for their sixth National Women's Soccer League season with preseason matches on Wednesday and Saturday at Merlo Field. Both the Wednesday game against the U.S. under-23 team and the Saturday match against Houston kick off at 7:30 p.m.
The Thorns lost 1-0 in Sunday's preseason opener at Merlo to Chicago in a match featuring primarily reserves and players trying out for each team. The Thorns' international players are scheduled to report after representing their national teams in recent tournaments, allowing coach Mark Parsons and staff to ramp up for the NWSL opener, a March 24 road game against the North Carolina Courage.
The season got off to a wild, and somewhat controversial start, on Sunday, as Sebastien Bourdais emerged as the winner of the St. Petersburg (Florida) Grand Prix.
Bourdais won the last time the Indy cars were at Portland International Raceway — in 2007. The series will return to PIR for a Sept. 2 race, the next-to-last event on the IndyCar 2018 calendar.
Bourdais was sitting third on Sunday's final restart, with two laps remaining. But leader (and pole-sitter) Robert Wickens, a 28-year-old rookie, spun out when 2016 Indy 500 champion Alexander Rossi, 26, tried to dive inside him going into the first turn and made contact. The crash allowed Bourdais to slip by and go on to take the checkered flag, with Rossi third and Graham Rahal second.
Bourdais, 39, from France, has 27 IndyCar victories, two behind Al Unser, who ranks fifth on the all-time list.
Hillsboro's Single-A baseball team is certainly getting a lot of mileage out of a Portland team that played independently more than 40 years ago. The Hillsboro Hops have honored the Portland Mavericks before, and this season Hillsboro of the Northwest League will wear Mavs uniforms for home games on five Monday nights: July 2 and 16, Aug. 20 and 27, and Sept. 3.
• When Oregon State finally lost a baseball game — the Beavers were 13-0 — it was a former Portland Pickles infielder, Sahid Valenzuela, who made the difference. The 5-9, 165-pound sophomore from Yuma, Arizona, singled home the winning run with two out in the top of the ninth inning Friday in Corvallis.
Portland native Peter Jacobsen is back for his second year as co-host of the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Nancy Lopez and Rickie Fowler are the other co-hosts, replacing the duties held by the tournament's namesake, the late Palmer. The event is Thursday-Sunday at Palmer's Bay Hill Club in Orlando, Florida.