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Fredy Montero, Seattle Sounders' all-time scorer, settling in with Vancouver Whitecaps

AP Published 7:23 p.m. ET April 26, 2017 | Updated 18 minutes ago

MLS: Vancouver Whitecaps FC at Portland Timbers

The Vancouver Whitecaps' Fredy Montero has scored three goals in two games against his team's Cascadia rivals. (Photo: Troy Wayrynen, USA TODAY Sports)

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — As Fredy Montero acclimates to the Vancouver Whitecaps, his previous experience in Major League Soccer has already prepared him for play in the Pacific Northwest.

Yes, there's the damp weather. But there's also the unique Cascadia Cup rivalry with the Sounders and the Portland Timbers.

Montero certainly gets it. He played for four seasons with the Sounders before he returned to his native Colombia for a stint with Millonarios. He also played in Portugal and China before the Whitecaps acquired him on loan from the Chinese Super League's Tianjin Teda just before the start of the MLS season.

A three-time league All-Star, the 29-year-old striker is the Sounders' all-time leading scorer with 47 goals and 34 assists in 119 regular-season matches from 2009-12.

He's fitting in nicely with the Whitecaps this season, leading the club with four goals in seven matches and just four starts.

"Of course, I do my best every game," he said. "I try to respect the style of the coach, and what we do every day in practice. ... We need to believe that we are good players, we are a good team, and we can play to anyone in this league."

Three of his goals have come in Cascadia Cup rivalry matches. Montero scored two goals in a 2-0 victory over the Sounders then rebounded a penalty kick for a goal in a 2-1 loss at Portland last weekend.

"We know he's a top player. He's also a top person as I've been saying, and he works hard every day, so what's important is we create chances for him," coach Carl Robinson said.

The Cascadia Cup is a supporter-created annual honor that goes to the winner of the three-way competition between the Whitecaps, Timbers and Sounders, based on points. Vancouver is the defending champion.

"It's always fun to play in these kind of games," Montero said. "I'm happy I keep scoring in these kind of games. For me it's just a matter of believing the team is going to do good."

The Whitecaps (2-4-1) visit rival Montreal on Saturday.

"I know I still have more to give," Montero said. "I'm trying to work hard every day in practice to reach my level, as soon as possible."

PHOTOS: Major League Soccer tifos

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Portland Timbers at FC Dallas, Saturday. The Timbers (5-2-1) lead the league in points and goals, but they'll be without Diego Valeri, who has five goals this season but left last weekend's victory over the Whitecaps with a left hip injury. Jake Gleeson missed the Vancouver game with a hip flexor, too. Dallas, meanwhile, is the league's lone unbeaten team, sitting second in the Western Conference standings at 4-0-2 after a

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Theo Epstein returns to Boston, champions another cause with his twin brother

USP MLB: WORLD SERIES-CHICAGO CUBS AT CLEVELAND IN S BBO USA OH

Theo Epstein is the architect behind three World Series titles -- 2004, 2007 ans 2016. (Photo: David J. Phillip, USA TODAY Sports)

BOSTON -- This is where it all began, just a mile beyond the Green Monster, where Theo Epstein fell in love with baseball as a kid, and forever changed the fate of two iconic franchises.

And this is where it continues, with his twin brother, Paul Epstein, still living in their hometown of Brookline, improving lives around him as one of Boston’s finest humanitarians.

Born 60 seconds apart, these two brothers, who chose to utilize their ultra-competitiveness in different facets in life, will be together again this weekend. They’ll be watching Theo’s Chicago Cubs visit Fenway Park for the first time as defending World Series champions, and then getting together trying to raise nearly $1 million for charities.

The weekend is being billed as a potential 2017 World Series preview, with box seats going for as much as $800 for the three-game series beginning Friday. The Cubs’ 2016 World Series trophy and Red Sox’s 2004 World Series trophy will be on display Saturday evening at their Hot Stove Cool Music charity concert. And the Sunday night game will be nationally televised by ESPN.

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Yet, throughout the weekend, a figure who won’t don a uniform will be the center of attention.

The only executive to build World Series championships in Boston and Chicago, ending combined droughts of 194 years. The man who anointed the world’s greatest leader by Fortune magazine, yes, two spots ahead of Pope Francis.

"We’re calling it Theo-palooza,’’ says Red Sox president Sam Kennedy, who grew up playing baseball with Epstein. “It’s going to be all about Theo this weekend.’’

That’s not an uncommon occurrence. As perhaps the most respected franchise builder in sports, Epstein’s capital in baseball is significant - and makes others ponder how he could spend that in other arenas.

Epstein, predicts David Axelrod, chief strategist for former president Barack Obama and a senior political commentator for CNN, could find similar success in a far more significant arena.

Really, Epstein reminds him of Obama with his brilliance, charisma, and oratory skills.

“He has the gifts to be successful in politics,’’ Axelrod tells USA TODAY Sports, “but I don’t know if he has the stomach for it. He performs so well in the public spotlight, speaks impeccably and beautifully in a very literary and sensitive way. But he’s really an introvert. He clearly likes his privacy and to be with his family, but in politics, you have to sacrifice so much of that.

“But by leaps and bounds he would be more popular than most of our politicians in Illinois right now.’’

The man who knows him best, and his closest friend in life, believes that if Epstein ever leaves his current job when his contract expires in five years, he still would remain in baseball, perhaps in the influential ownership circle.

“I think he’ll always stay in baseball,’’ Paul Epstein tells

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NFL mock draft 7.1: Latest buzz on first-round outlook

CLOSE NFL mock draft 7.1: Latest buzz on first-round outlook
NFL mock draft 7.1: Latest buzz on first-round outlook

Deshaun Watson makes his case for why he should be the first quarterback off the board in the 2017 NFL draft. USA TODAY Sports

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NFL mock draft 7.1 (Photo: USA TODAY Sports)

NFL draft week has finally arrived. Round 1 of the league's annual "player selection meeting" begins Thursday night in Philadelphia. Rounds 2 and 3 follow on Friday, and the event wraps up Saturday with Rounds 4 through 7.

That still leaves us time for one more first-round prognostication, which will be freshened through the week as news dictates — such as Ohio State CB Gareon Conley's legal issues . So here's mock draft 7.1 for 2017:

1. Cleveland Browns — Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M: A lot of conjecture in recent weeks, from the Browns' rumored consideration of a quarterback at No. 1 to questions about Garrett's work ethic. We're not buying it. No reason for the league's worst team to pass on this year's best available player, and one who can energize a Cleveland pass rush that's been nearly as bad as the franchise's play under center since it rejoined the NFL in 1999. So don't overthink this one, Browns. Garrett upgrades the roster's talent, fills a need and even brings a refreshing personality to a team that needs positive buzz. Slam. Dunk.

2. San Francisco 49ers — Jamal Adams, S, LSU: This seems like a prime spot for a trade if the Niners can entice someone to a deal, maybe a team that loves LSU's Leonard's Fournette or one of this year's (developmental) quarterbacks. But if the rookie duo of GM John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan stay put, they'll obviously want to find a reliable cornerstone for this major rebuild. Adams should be that player, providing tone-setting hits, leadership and range for a new-look defense.

3. Chicago Bears — Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State: The Bears have already dumped CB Tracy Porter, and Kyle Fuller can't be counted on given his injury history. Lattimore is a better option than both anyway and is expected to quickly flourish as a pro — assuming his hamstring issues are behind him.

4. Jacksonville Jaguars — Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU: Stanford DL Solomon Thomas will be tempting here, but the Jags know it's incumbent to support Blake Bortles with a legitimate ground game in order to give him a final chance to flourish or else finally determine that he's not the long-term answer at quarterback. Fournette, who's drawing comparisons to a young Adrian Peterson, is a workhorse who would almost certainly end the club's five-season streak without a 1,000-yard rusher.

5. Tennessee Titans (from Los Angeles Rams) — Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State: An elite ballhawk, Hooker had seven interceptions last year and returned three of them for TDs. He'd be quite a weapon in a division that features a pair of quarterbacks — Bortles and Andrew Luck — who not only tend to air it out but also put the ball up for grabs way too often.

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Wizards move one step closer to advancing

The Wizards beat the Hawks Wednesday night to take a 3-2 series lead.

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Wizards survive Hawks rally, take 3-2 series lead

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