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Thorns Host Gotham FC in NWSL Challenge Cup Final

May 06, 2021
Source: Portland Thorns FC
Source: Portland Thorns FC

The game: It all comes down to this. After four weeks of play, the Portland Thorns will host NJ/NY Gotham FC on Saturday at 1 p.m. ET in the second iteration of the Cup. And thanks to loosening COVID-19 restrictions in Oregon, the stadium will host around 3,800 fans, giving the Thorns an extra home-field advantage boost.

  • And for the non-live fans (present!), CBS will air the match in the U.S. and Twitch will stream it live internationally. 

The teams: Both enter the Cup final undefeated, but the Thorns are the stronger squad. In the group qualifying stage, they notched three wins and a draw (aka tie) to win the West division. On the other hand, Gotham FC won two and drew two on their way to the top of the East and haven’t scored since their second match.

  • Portland has the upper hand, especially with legendary players like Lindsey Horan and Christine Sinclair on the roster. But if Gotham striker Midge Purce, who’s already scored twice, can find the net again, they’ll have a good chance to stun the favorites. 

The off-field dynamics: In other NWSL news, 15-year-old Olivia Moultrie filed an antitrust lawsuit against the league to let her sign a contract. Moultrie, who turned pro at 13, trains with the Thorns, but NWSL rules state players cannot sign contracts until they’re 18 (a rule that doesn’t exist in MLS, BTW). Any chance they can get this sorted by game time Saturday?

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The GIST's Quick Hits - US (May 6, 2021)

May 06, 2021
Source: Bleacher Report/Twitter
Source: Bleacher Report/Twitter

⚾️Baseball: The hurlers are proving the haters wrong. Following up LA Angels pitcher Shohei Ohtani’s incredible dual-threat performances, Tuesday saw Atlanta pitcher Huascar Ynoa become the first pitcher to blast a grand slam since 2018. Go off.

  • And while some pitchers are getting hits, others aren’t allowing any. Baltimore Oriole John Means no hit the Seattle Mariners yesterday, marking this season’s third no-hitter that also just missed being a perfect game. Close, but no cigar.  

🏒Hockey: Here’s a doozy: On Monday, Washington Capitals right winger Tom Wilson who has a history of rough play and subsequent disciplinary action — acted severely outside traditional hockey violence boundaries and went after Rangers’ star Artemiy Panarin, injuring him. Wilson was only issued a slap on the wrist $5,000 fine. Um, WTF?

  • In response, the Rangers put out a statement calling for the firing of the NHL’s head of player safety on Tuesday. But on Wednesday, the Rangers made their own firing, abruptly cutting ties with their president and general manager. Didn’t see that coming.
  • The teams faced off again in their final meeting of the season last night, and unsurprisingly, things started with a line brawl. The first period alone ended with 20 penalties and Wilson leaving with an upper body injury. Saw that one coming. 

⚾️(Minor League) Baseball: Following last year’s COVID-19 cancellation, Minor League Baseball (MiLB) returned on Tuesday, 595 days after the last season ended. Highlights from Opening Day include Tampa Bay Rays prospect (and the No. 1 prospect in baseball) Wander Franco going 3-for-5 in his Triple-A debut, including an RBI triple. What a welcome.

⚽️Soccer Football: USMNT forward Christian Pulisic continues to shine across the pond. His sweet assist in yesterday’s Champions League semifinal helped lift Chelsea to a 2–0 win (3–2 on aggregate) over Real (pronounced REY-al) Madrid. Chelsea is the first club to send their women’s and men’s teams to a Champs League final in the same season. Bloody cool.

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Philadelphia: They don’t like us, we don’t care

May 06, 2021
Source: Penn State WSOC/Twitter.com
Source: Penn State WSOC/Twitter.com

⚽️Union: The Union and Atlanta United drew 1–1 in the second leg of the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals on Tuesday. Thankfully, the Union’s 3–0 victory in the first leg secured their semifinals spot. But Tuesday’s match didn’t come without some tension (this time, between coaches). Spicy.

  • The semifinals won’t take place until mid-August at the earliest, so for now, we’re just going to keep gloating, er, celebrating

🎓⚽️🏐Nittany Lions: In yesterday’s Round of Sixteen, the Penn State women’s soccer team took an early lead over the top-ranked Florida State Seminoles when Lions midfielder Frankie Tagliaferri scored off Sam Coffey’s beautiful assist. Unfortunately, the lead didn’t last long, and the Seminoles powered back to win 3–1. So much heart from these Lions.

  • In usual dominant fashion, PSU is one of only five schools to have both women’s and men’s teams in soccer’s Sweet 16 this year. The men’s team takes the pitch against the Georgetown Hoyas today at noon ET. We Are!
  • On the court, the blue and white men’s volleyball team fell 3–0 to the Lewis Flyers in the Elite 8 on Tuesday; the Lions’ struggling offense couldn’t keep up with the Flyers’ attacks. Sigh. 

European Football Drama

May 03, 2021
Source: BBC Merseyside Sport/Twitter
Source: BBC Merseyside Sport/Twitter
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Philadelphia: Hi, Heisman

May 03, 2021
Source: The Athletic
Source: The Athletic

🏈Eagles: We’re feeling pretty optimistic this fine Monday morning after the Eagles’ solid draft picks over the weekend. The best part? The Birds making a last-minute trade with the Dallas Cowboys to secure the No. 10 overall draft pick, which they used to select national champion and Heisman Trophy winner, wide receiver (WR) DeVonta Smith.

  • Despite doubts about Smith's relatively small size, Philly fans (including us) lost their damn minds. We can't wait to see him reunited on the field this fall with fellow 'Bama alum, Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts. 

⚾️Phillies: The Phils closed out a spicy weekend series against the NY Mets last night, taking only one of the three games. Tensions were high throughout the series after Phillies pitcher José Alvarado talked some major trash in the general direction of Met Dominic Smith in the first game. 

  • Given Alvarado’s, um, not-so-great history with the Mets, things escalated quickly: both benches cleared, and Alvarado was suspended for three games. Fierce competitiveness or toxic masculinity? We'll let you decide.
  • The 13-15 Phillies will have to drop the dramatics fast and get ready to face the Milwaukee Brewers tonight at 7:05 p.m. ET. 

⚽️🎓Penn State soccer: Both the men’s and women’s teams went into this year’s NCAA tournament unranked...and both have advanced to the third round. WE ARE so impressed. 

  • The women pulled out a 2–0 upset against No. 16 Vanderbilt on Saturday. Fire up your margarita maker, because they’re taking on undefeated and dominant No. 1 seed Florida State on Wednesday (Cinco de Mayo) at 3 p.m. ET.

After trouncing UMass 4–1 yesterday, the men are gearing up for their Thursday match vs. No. 8 Georgetown (time TBA).