Saturday, June 1, 2013

Philadelphia Union vs. Toronto FC

   The Philadelphia Union are playing a woeful Toronto F.C. today at PPL Park. And while I expect this match to be a victory, it remains to be seen which Philadelphia team will show up to play. The offense has been clicking behind the steady scoring of Jack Mac, and LeToux has been providing assists. Since Hackworth has put Kleberson on the field, he's been playing well, providing spark and vision the Union were lacking. For the first time in their brief history, scoring has not been a major problem for the Philadelphia Union.

   Instead, it's been the defense of Philadelphia that has been a liability lately. Against teams that matter, The Montreal Impact and the L.A. Galaxy, the Union surrendered 5 and 4 goals respectively. And trading away Bakary Soumare and Gabe Farfan has left the Union with no margin for error. And despite the emergence of Amobi Okugo as a force in the backline for the Union, they still leave much to be desired. They let in easy goals last week, and with a hungry Toronto F.C. looking to break a 10 match winless streak, the union need to be worried.

    What can they do to fix the backline? Probably nothing at this point in the season. A transfer could help, and it's been rumored Danny Califf may be on his way back to the Union, which would undoubtedly help. But at times it seems like they just make stupid mistakes, and put themselves in bad positions. If this was last season or the year before, I would say they were pushing forward to try to score a goal for a change, and who could blame them, the offense was terrible the last few seasons. But this season offense isn't a problem, and that makes that excuse useless.

   So which Union team will show up? The team that seems to handle teams in the bottom of the standings fairly easily? Or the team that looks at star players like Marco Di Vaio, and just lets them run by, because hey? What's the worst can happen?

Sunday, March 3, 2013

The Sprint Cup at Phoenix

Well here we are. The crapshoot that is the Daytona 500 is over. And what an underwhelming event it was. With little to no passing, there was little to no drama in the Great American Race. Not what NASCAR wanted to see during their flagship race.

That will all change this afternoon. NASCAR makes its way south and west to Phoenix, a track that will definitely feature more racing than Daytona did. And the big story of the day will be the Hendrick cars. With 3 cars qualifying in the top 10, Hendrick looks to power his way to the top of the points standings this week, and move some drivers up significantly with good finishes.

Will anyone be able to stand up to the Hendrick juggernaut? Toyota's seem fast, but their performance at Daytona will leave questions about their durability. It will be up to Gibbs racing and Waltrip racing to try to close the gap and bring some power to the front of the field.

So Phoenix should be a fun and competitive race. And after a snoozefest at Daytona, NASCAR needs a competitive race. And with the big story of Danica Patrick qualifying in 40th position, NASCAR needs some good racing at Phoenix to revive interest in the young season.

Philadelphia Union vs. Sporting KC Post Match Wrap-up

For about 41 minutes, Philadelphia Union fans were on top of the world. Their boys in blue(Bethlehem Steel Black yesterday though) were running roughshod over Sporting KC. Sebastian LeToux was being hailed as a returning hero, who opened the entire MLS campaign with a beautiful goal. And beyond that, the Union were attacking and generating chances. And it seemed like only a matter of time before the Union broke through and ran away with the match. And PPL Park was rocking.

Then Zusi tied it up. But still, Union fans had hope. The Union went right back to attacking the goal, and it seemed again that they would be able to pull ahead. This was the team we all wanted to see early last year. A team that didnt sit back and try to bottle people up and come away with a point. This was a team that wanted 3 points.

But then, an Achilles heel from last year came back to bite the Union. Set pieces. Zusi played in a beautiful free kick, and it was headed right by MacMath. This problem plagued the Union last year, and it was hoped that it would be fixed this season. And if not fixed, at least improved upon. But the 2nd goal was scored off a set piece, and it looked easy. And if this is going to be a problem again, the Union can't afford to miss chances like they did in the first half.

So the home opener was really a game of missed chances for the Union. they missed chances to take a multi goal lead in the first half. Up 2-0 or 2-1 going into the second half, and Sporting KC would have had an entirely different plan of attack. And once again, the Union missed chances to properly defend set pieces, and paid dearly for it. Sporting KC was a power in the Eastern Conference last season, and no one is saying the Union were favored. But 40 minutes in to the game, every Union fan watching was thinking the same thing.

This is what I want to see all season.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Line-up Surprises for the Union

Well John Hackworth certainly didn't wait to get a little controversy going this season. The starting lineups for the home opener were announced, and much to my surprise, Conor Casey, Bakary Soumare, and Jack McIrneny were not on the starting 11. Instead, Le Toux starts as the loan forward, and the Farfan brothers and Keon Daniel stake out the attacking midfield. Labour and Carroll play a defensive midfield roles and Gaddis, Parke, Okugo, and Williams man the back line from left to right.

After the high profe acquisitions of this off season, and the goal scoring prowess McIrneny chowder late last season, it's a bit of a shock not to see Casey or Jack Mac on the pitch. Especially since Conor Casey is second among active players for goals against Sporting K.C. So will this 5-2-3-1 lineup work for the Union? If LeToux can get the help he needs on the flanks, this could be a potent offense. But if the attack is weak in the first half, expect to see some combination of Casey, Mcirneney, and Hoppenot coming off the bench.

Opening Day

Welcome to Opening Day Union fans!! It's been a long winter and a lot has happened since the last time the boys in blue stepped onto the pitch for an MLS match. Fan favorite Sebastian LeToux has found his way back to a club that never should have let him go in the first place. Conor Casey brings proven talent and height to the striker position. And a healthy Jeff Parke and Bakary Soumare wi anchor a line that lost stalwart Carlos Valdes. And those are just the new faces the John Hackworth has to work with.

The rest of the team returns, and young faces we came to know and love last year get the chance to prove they are the real deal. Will Jack Mac still be the force close to the net he was last year? Will super sub Chandler Hoffman still have lightning in his boots that seemed to lead to goals any time he stepped on to the pitch?  Can Roger Torres come back to play midfield after a season marred by injuries? Most importantly, can the Union find the back of the net? Goals have been a problem for this team since their inception, but the Union finally have depth at forward, and variety. Casey brings height, Jack brings in innovation, and LeToux is an engine that never stops.

I guess the biggest question in this young season will be how John Hackworth handles his position. Stepping into the role last season, he faced an angry fan base and a team that had been torn apart by the departing Nowak. And though he couldn't lead the Union to a playoff berth, no one can deny that they played better under Hackworth than they did under Nowak. But now the buck stops with Hackworth. It's his team this season, and there will be no excuses. Especially since Hackworth managed to go out and get top tier talent for this years campaign.

So it all starts today. With a Sporting KC team that was a powerhouse in the East last season. But a win against this team would be a statement. That the Union mean to make something of this season. And that Hackworth means to build this team to something that Philadelphia can be proud of. And whether or not that will be the case, the journey starts today.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Begin Again

And so the posts begin again. I realize I haven't posted in quite some time. But I thought I'd post again, just to see if anyone still wanted to read my ramblings about sports. But now, on to what really matters. The sports.

Tonight, I have 2 tickets to the Eagles game. The Eagles will be hosting the 7-6 Cincinnati Bengals on Thursday Night Football. What does this mean for the Eagles? Well, in the end, not much. The writing appears to be on the wall for Andy Reid. at 4-9, the Eagles sit in the basement of the NFC East, and appear poised to stay there for the remainder of the season. The one bright spot tonight will be the play of young players, particularly Nick Foles.

Can he be the quarterback the Eagles need? Last week showed some flashes of brilliance, and a last minute drive. Both of which Eagles fans haven't seen for a while. And that will hopefully bring some energy to the home crowd tonight.  Because last week was his audition for whoever his new coach will be. But this week could be considered his audition for Eagles fans. Have we seen him play before? Yes. But have we seen him play after a victory like their win over Tampa Bay? No. But Foles won't be alone tonight

Playing behind Foles, but working equally as hard to guarantee a roster spot under a new coach will be Bryce Brown.

Brown has also shown flashes of ability in his games since LeSean McCoy went down with a concussion. Flashes that have left Philadelphia fans drooling. Imagine, a team with a competent head coach and a healthy offense line, directed by Nick Foles, with the tandem of McCoy and Brown in the backfield.? That sounds  like a  team Philly fans want to see. But until next season, all we have are games like tonight. A game with a bad offensive line. A game where the best thing we can do is play spoiler. But hell, its still a game, and the Eagles still want to win.

And I think they will.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Trade Deadline

The Phillies made a lot of noise at the the trade deadline this season. And for the first time in a long time, it wasn't the Phillies signing a big name. It was the Phillies trading big names. Hunter Pence and Shane Victorino are gone. And with them, quite a bit of salary.

So where do the Phillies go from here? It's a tough question. with these trades the Phillies have clearly given up on the 2012 season, and also at any chance of the playoffs. And freeing up salary will let them sign players in the offseason that will help in a playoff run in 2013. But those hoping for a World Series in 2012 are out of luck.

And those who liked Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence are out of luck. Victorino was certainly a fan favorite, and though Pence hasn't played for the Phillies long, he's quickly become a fan favorite. So how will the Phillies replace these 2 players?

With wins, that's how.

Wins are what really matters. And with Hamels, Halladay, Howard, Utley, Rollins, and Lee still on the roster, plenty of fan favorites still exist. And plenty of players who can win are still on this roster. All the Phillies need are some every day players who can play up to expectations, and not give up bad defensive plays while batting poorly.

Does that mean Mayberry and Brown need to step up? Yes. It does. But with this season a lost cause, it gives the Phillies 40 or so games to see what they have. Will Brow or Mayberry step up? Int he end who cares? If they do, great! the Phillies have two outfielders they need. If they don't, then the Phillies know what they need to do in the offseason. Either way, these trades will let the Phillies better prepare for next season, and hopefully another playoff run.