Talking Points has been following the rise of the Portland Timbers in the Major League Soccer power rankings for weeks now and, finally, the team is No. 1.
Bleacherreport.com says Portland responded after a goalless draw against the Galaxy in Los Angeles in “exhilarating fashion” in beating Colorado. Sportsillustrated.com describes the club as “skillful, cohesive, professional, dangerous, confident, methodical, enforcing, commanding, successful.”
SI calls the acquisition of captain Will Johnson from Real Salt Lake as “one of the transactions of the season.” Caleb Porter is called frontrunner for coach of the year. Socceramerica.com called the win over Colorado “a vintage performance.”
The Seattle Sounders rate from No. 7 to No. 9 in the various rankings.
And how about the Mariners?
Bleacherreport slots them at No. 22 and, uh, calls them “a team on the rise, but there was little expected of them.”
It is predicted Seattle will trade away pitchers Jeremy Bonderman, Joe Saunders and Aaron Harang at the deadline if they can, plus will entertain offers for free-agents-to-be Kendrys Morales and Michael Morse.
Cleveland.com places Seattle at No. 24 while the Chicago Tribune has the M’s all the way down to No. 28, noting the team had four blown saves by three relievers in six days recently.
Baseball News Source predicts the M’s will trade Morales and Raul Ibanez, possibly both to the Yankees. There’s a lot of blogosphere love for second baseman Nick Franklin and catcher Mike Zunino now, just as there was for Jesus Montero and Dustin Ackley not too long ago.
Also worth noting: 20-year-old pitching prospect Taijuan Walker made his first start at Tacoma on Tuesday. He threw six scoreless innings thanks to a 97 mph fastball and sharp, darting curve. In 87 pitches he had 56 strikes. One runner got as far as second base.
One Triple-A start does not mean Walker is ready to made the 40-mile jaunt north to Safeco Field. But given the misery of the current Mariners, hope is about all fans have.