Doopocalypse Now: Union Look to Put Out Fire

Doopocalypse Now: Union Look to Put Out Fire


The Union (4-3-2), who still sit in second place in the Eastern Conference, host the Chicago Fire (1-3-5), a team Peter Nowak helped lead to an MLS Cup as a player, this evening at PPL Park (8PM/Comcast SportsNet).

Chicago has not won a game since March 26, which helps to explain why they are currently the eighth place team in the East. Amazingly, they've played four consecutive ties. An even scoreline tonight against the Union would tie a single season MLS record for consecutive draws.

The U have had a rough go of it lately, going winless over their last three games (loss at Portland, tie at home against the Galaxy, and last week's 2-0 loss at FC Dallas). True, the loss at Dallas was their third game in ten days, but for the first time all season they were way too loose in the back.

Uncharacteristically, the marking was poor. Sheanon Williams either
completely lost sight of Brek Shea, or felt he had to provide some cover
to the middle of the box on the first Dallas goal. It was one of the
few times all season where the Union were caught scrambling in the back.
It looked like the type of goal they gave up all too often in 2010.

Then, for the first time all season, they conceded a second goal when Fabian Castillo (who set up the first Dallas goal) slipped between two Union players and headed home the knockout punch past Faryd Mondragon. Tonight they'll have to focus the bulk of their attention on Marco Pappa and Diego Chaves, who are tied for the team lead in goals with four apiece.

On the flip-side, the Union offense looked downright dangerous the first 25-30 minutes of the game. Justin Mapp was playing out of his mind early on, running at and past people, beating his man to the endline, cutting towards the middle a la Arjen Robben (For the record: no I am not comparing Mapp and Robben. I am simply saying Mapp made a few cutting runs towards the middle of the box in much the same patented way Robben does).

Even Brian Carroll got forward. Perhaps they were so caught up in their discovery of actual positive play that the end result was an uncharacteristically lax defensive effort.

Despite looking so threatening early on, the Union were unable to actually put a ball past Dallas keeper Kevin Hartman. Even their lineup coming out of halftime, Carlos Ruiz, Jack McInerney, Roger Torres, Danny Mwanga and Sebastien Le Toux (by far the most attacking lineup I've ever seen Nowak trot out) was unable to solve Hartman.

It's somewhat interesting that right now the Phillies and Union have to play similar styles in order to win games. They have to be clean defensively and just grind out the offense in the hopes that they can somehow scratch across a run/goal. It's not the prettiest thing to watch, but to date both teams have found a way to get results. If either team could get their offense and defense to click at the same time it'd be scary.

Here’s the lineup I hope we see tonight: Mondragon, Harvey, Valdes, Califf, Williams, Daniel, Torres, Carroll, Le Toux, Mwanga, McInerney (yes, I am still beating the Jack Mac drum).

Final Score Prediction: Offensively Chicago just isn't all that threatening. Unfortunately, the same can be said about the Union. However, playing at home will make all the difference as the Union win it 1-0.

The Toni Stahl Memorial Union Player Most Likely To See Red: Brian Carroll. I have zero basis for that prediction. Honestly. None whatsoever. Just go with it.

Best of NHL: Blue Jackets crush Islanders, 7-0

Best of NHL: Blue Jackets crush Islanders, 7-0

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Unlike some other NHL teams coming off their bye week, there wasn't a spot of rust on the sleek Columbus Blue Jackets.

In their first game following a five-day break, the high-energy Blue Jackets blew out the New York Islanders 7-0 Saturday as backup goalie Joonas Korpisalo earned his first career shutout.

Josh Anderson and Nick Foligno each scored twice, and David Savard had a goal and three assists. Boone Jenner and Jack Johnson also scored to help the Blue Jackets end New York's three-game winning streak (see full recap).

Zibanejad scores in OT to help Rangers beat Devils again
NEWARK, N.J. -- The New York Rangers are finding ways to win, and the New Jersey Devils just aren't.

Moments after goaltender Antti Raanta stopped Kyle Palmieri on a breakaway, Mika Zibanejad scored 1:16 into overtime and the Rangers rallied to beat the Devils 4-3 on Saturday.

"I had to redeem myself after that letdown on the breakaway the other way," said Zibanejad, whose mistake gave Palmieri a chance to complete a hat trick. "Rants came up big and it's nice to see that puck cross the goal line once again and win the game."

The goal was Zibanejad's first in 16 games and it gave the Rangers their ninth win in 11 games (9-1-1). Struggling New Jersey got its fourth loss in five games (1-3-1) (see full recap).

Shaw's OT goal gives Canadiens 14th straight win over the Leafs
TORONTO -- Andrew Shaw scored 1:06 into overtime and the Montreal Canadiens beat Toronto 3-2 on Saturday night for their 14th consecutive victory over the Maple Leafs.

Max Pacioretty and Alex Galchenyuk had the other goals for the Canadiens, who increased their Atlantic Division lead to four points over Ottawa and five on Toronto. They are 3-7-1 in the last 11 games and 2-2-0 under new coach Claude Julien.

Carey Price stopped 32 shots for Montreal, including a breakaway by Auston Matthews in overtime. The 19-year-old Matthews scored twice to reach 30 goals in his rookie season, and Frederik Andersen was sharp with 25 saves for Toronto (see full recap).

Best of NBA: Noel scores 9 points, grab 10 boards in Mavs debut

Best of NBA: Noel scores 9 points, grab 10 boards in Mavs debut

DALLAS -- Harrison Barnes scored 19 points and Dirk Nowitzki had 18 points and nine rebounds as the Dallas Mavericks ended a three-game losing streak by beating the New Orleans Pelicans 96-83 on Saturday night.

The Pelicans fell to 0-2 since trading for DeMarcus Cousins and pairing him with Anthony Davis.

Davis had 39 points and 14 rebounds but scored only 12 in the second half. Cousins finished with 12 points and 15 rebounds.

Seth Curry scored 10 of his 13 in the fourth quarter to help Dallas pull away. His 3-pointer with 4:49 to play gave the Mavericks an 84-72 lead, and the Pelicans never got closer than six after that (see full recap).

Harden leads Rockets past Timberwolves in 142-130 shootout
HOUSTON -- James Harden had 24 points and 10 assists to lead the Houston Rockets to a 142-130 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves as both teams set season scoring highs in a Saturday night shootout.

Houston won for the sixth time in seven games, handing the Timberwolves their first road loss in more than three weeks.

Minnesota committed a season-high 25 turnovers that led to 38 points for the Rockets.

Playing against Houston's guard-heavy rotation, Minnesota went inside all night and outscored the Rockets 68-44 in the paint. Karl-Anthony Towns had 37 points and 22 rebounds, and Andrew Wiggins added 30 points (see full recap).

Bulls benefit as James sits with strep, beat Cavs 117-99
CLEVELAND -- Dwyane Wade scored 20 points and Jimmy Butler recorded a triple-double, leading the Chicago Bulls to a 117-99 victory Saturday night over the Cleveland Cavaliers, who played without LeBron James.

James missed the game with strep throat, and coach Tyronn Lue said he wasn't sure how long the Cavaliers would be without the four-time MVP. Cleveland struggled as it often does without its star - they are 4-19 without him since he returned to Cleveland in 2014, including 0-4 this season.

Chicago has won all three games against Cleveland this season. It took advantage of James' absence to win its fourth straight overall (see full recap).

George ejected, Heat stay hot with 113-95 win over Pacers
MIAMI -- Paul George had another frustrating night in Miami.

Hassan Whiteside scored 22 points and grabbed 17 rebounds, Dion Waiters added 22 points and the red-hot Miami Heat pulled away late to beat the Indiana Pacers 113-95 on Saturday night. Miami outscored Indiana 42-22 in the final 16 minutes, all with George watching from the Pacers' locker room after an ejection.

"It felt like a playoff-type game," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said (see full recap).