Doughty's success is no surprise to former mentor O'Donnell

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Doughty's success is no surprise to former mentor O'Donnell

Drew Doughty brought the puck up ice, never breaking stride as he knifed through the New Jersey Devils and scored on Martin Brodeur. It was an impressive play by the young L.A. Kings defenseman, and his former on-ice mentor Sean ODonnell couldnt help but smile.

Hes like a pitcher, the Blackhawks defenseman said. He wants the ball in his hands when game is on the line.

When Doughty began his NHL career in 2008-09, the Kings wanted a veteran defenseman to help the youngsters transition to the big time. Enter ODonnell, who was brought in from Anaheim to do just that. Four years later, ODonnell is impressed with what Doughty has done in such a short amount of time.

But the 40-year-old ODonnell isnt taking credit for Doughtys emergence.

Its almost like a teacher who gets a kid in Grade 5 or 6 and they go on to great things. You watch with admiration and youre proud, and youre happy you were able to help. But he was going to be a great player no matter who played with him, said ODonnell, who was out in L.A. where the Kings are preparing for Game 3 against the Devils. Hes doing things I could never imagine on the ice. Just to see that raw player when he came to L.A.; if I had a one percent influence, it makes you proud.

Doughty was already plenty talented when he began his NHL career. But it didnt hurt pairing him with ODonnell, who at the time was in his 16th season as well as his second stint with the Kings. And when ODonnell talked, Doughty listened.

Hes a very smart player, ODonnell said. He was a little bit raw when he came in and I would try to tell him, This is what this guy likes to do, or, On a 3 on 2, lets play it this way. And he just got it. He understood why. You explained it, he got it and he stuck with it.

The pro sports spotlight can be glaring on a rising star. Doughtys dealt with some heady stuff this season, from holding out during contract negotiations to signing his massive contract eight years, 56 million to trying to live up to the deal. Doughty has definitely shown his worth through this postseason. And ODonnell said Doughtys attitude helps him through the ups and downs.

I dont know if hes realizing the magnitude of what he does. He just has fun all the time, doesnt let pressure overwhelm him, ODonnell said. I talked to him a couple times: he missed training camp, hes 22 years old, and when he had a bad game people would say, Look how much hes making. I cant believe he held out. I think he struggled with that at the end of the year but now he's playing well. He just has to have fun, and now hes kind of playing with the house money.

Doughty has already done so much in his young career. Hes won Olympic gold. Hes earned a Norris Trophy nomination. And now hes on the cusp of winning a Stanley Cup. Not a bad resume for a 22-year-old. What could Doughty do in the future? ODonnell said you dont want to put pressure on the young guy, that it takes time for a good defenseman to become a great defenseman. But Doughty certainly looks well on his way.

And perhaps ODonnell should take a little bit of credit for that.

I hear him say things like, I need to be the best defenseman on the ice. Hes not cocky or arrogant. Hes just confident, ODonnell said. If hes playing way he can, he cant be stopped.

David Accam is back and that's good for the Fire

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David Accam is back and that's good for the Fire

David Accam is the Chicago Fire's best player and when he plays the team is better.

While that statement should be obvious to anyone who has watched the Fire on a regular basis this year, it is worth mentioning because of how much time Accam has missed this season.

Accam played a starring role in the team's 4-3 loss in the season opener. He had a goal and an assist. The next match he scored early in Orlando before the Fire were forced to defend while playing down a man due to a red card.

Then he got injured. Accam missed six games and the Fire scored four goals in those matches without him. After making two abbreviated appearances during the team's recent road trip, he was unable to play last week at home due to a suspension.

“It’s difficult for me because I’ve been through a lot in the last two months," Accam said. "For me I’m just happy to be on the pitch now and playing. It will take some time for me to get into match fitness and start going, but I’m happy with my performance today.”

Accam scored in Saturday's 1-1 draw against Portland. It was his first start at home since his barnstorming season debut back on March 6. It was also his first 90-minute outing since March 11.

Kennedy Igboananike assisted on the goal. The partnership in the attack between Igboananike and Accam is one the Fire needs to become a fine-tuned weapon for the team to have a successful season.

“I think what we are looking for is to have associations in the team and the two of them work very good together," coach Veljko Paunovic said. "We could see that in the first game when David was fit, also in the second game until we had the (red card). Since then David was injured, but David is very important. Not only because of his individual qualities, but he improves our team in how our team feels better on the field and offensively with more potential."

Accam had five shots, two on goal, and Igboananike had four shots, three on goal. Accam thinks the team is starting to improve its on-field chemistry.

“I think so, especially in the front three," the Ghanaian said. "We are creating chances. Last week we created a lot of chances and today, too.

“In the last two games we started to feel the way we wanted to play and for me it’s been much better. We conceded one goal in the last three games and we created I think more than five clear chances so for me it’s getting better.”

Fire unable to find winner in tie with Portland

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Fire unable to find winner in tie with Portland

Getting a second goal is becoming a thing for the Chicago Fire.

A thing they aren't getting.

The Fire pushed for a go-ahead second goal against Portland on Saturday, but it never came. The team's inability to find a second goal, something the team hasn't scored since the season opener, meant they had to settle for a 1-1 tie against the Timbers.

In a lot of ways, the Fire played better. They outshot Portland 17-8, 6-2 in shots on target, and in the second half had rare extended stretches of possession. But they were still not able to break a halftime deadlock.

"It was just that we didn’t score that second goal, which was very important for us," coach Veljko Paunovic said. "We are building the momentum. We were close to winning this game today and we are happy with the performance.”

The Fire (2-5-5, 11 points) are now 2-2-3 in seven home matches.

Portland (4-6-4, 16 points) took the lead in the 18th minute when Diego Valeri took advantage of a poor Rodrigo Ramos clearance. Ramos' ball got caught up in the wind and stayed near the box. Valeri won the ball back and beat Sean Johnson from a tight angle, sliding a shot just inside the far post.

Almost immediately the Fire leveled the match through David Accam. Accam, making his first home start since the season opener, redirected a Kennedy Igboananike centering pass to tie things back up.

“I know when he goes wide I need to be in the box," Accam said. "I know he has a good left foot also to put that ball in the box so I was in the right position when the ball came in.”

It was Accam's third goal of the season and his first since March 11. Accam and Igboananike created most of the dangerous chances for the Fire, linking up regularly other than the goal.

Another forward who could have joined the attack, Gilberto, was out for personal reasons. The Brazilian had played his best of the year last week.

The Fire had a strong wind at their backs in the second half and used it to keep the ball in Portland's half and extend the lead in shots they took into halftime. Despite being unable to get the win at home, multiple players claimed they are seeing progress in the team's performances.

"I think we’re finally putting full 90s together as a team," midfielder Matt Polster said. "I think during the beginning of the season we were getting used to each other. I think we put in good 65, 70 minutes of a game. As we’re growing as a team now I think we’re putting a full 90 together.”

Now the Fire go on break for the Copa America. The team will not train next week other than a fitness plan given to the players. The next match will be in the US Open Cup on June 15 with both location and opponent to be determined on June 1.

The next MLS match is June 18 at Philadelphia and the next MLS home match will be July 1 against San Jose.

Sale looks to stop the slide as White Sox face Royals on CSN

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Sale looks to stop the slide as White Sox face Royals on CSN

The White Sox take on the Kansas City Royals on Sunday, and you can catch all the action on Comcast SportsNet. Coverage begins with White Sox Pregame Live at 12:30 p.m. Be sure to stick around after the final out to get analysis and player reaction on White Sox Postgame Live.

Sunday’s starting pitching matchup: Chris Sale vs. Edison Volquez

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