Extra Time: Mondragon Leaving? Le Toux Staying? Mwanga Leaving, but Coming Back?

Extra Time: Mondragon Leaving? Le Toux Staying? Mwanga Leaving, but Coming Back?

For the unfamiliar, soccer transfer windows are like the MLB, NBA, NHL, and NFL trade deadlines on steroids. It's a global game. Players move from continent to continent. Teams send scouts all over the world to identify talent. Media from around the globe speculate, rumor monger, and generally throw anything and everything against the wall and hope something sticks.
Imagine a global army of Buster Olney's, Jay Glazer's, Ric Bucher's, and Darren Dreger's racing to concoct transfer scenarios and news. It's a page-view driven world, and the more wild the speculation the better. 
My point? Take everything with a grain of salt.
What does that mean as it relates to the Philadelphia Union? Well, last night Goal.com's US Latino Chief Editor Eric Gómez tweeted that Union goalkeeper "Faryd Mondragon is rumored to be close to signing with Deportivo Cali in Colombia".
On the surface, the rumor makes some sense. Mondragon, who is from Colombia, started his professional career with Deportivo Cali. He's also 40 years old and in the twilight of his career. Returning to Colombia end his playing career would seem to have some appeal. Goal.com's Gómez later tweeted there could be some post-playing career considerations - namely becoming the goalkeeper coach for the Colombian National Team:
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@goaleric
Eric Gómez Mondragon's sudden departure has to do with the supposed offer to be the Colombia NT Goalkeeper coach, according to @jrojasa75
Jan 28 via web Favorite Retweet Reply

If Mondragon leaves, which is not a given, the Union would turn to former first round pick and second year man Zac MacMath to handle the first team goalkeeping duties.
Elsewhere, after leaving for a week long training spell with Premier League side Bolton Wanderers, Sebastien Le Toux is back in the area. Bolton manager Owen Coyle apparently was not impressed enough to pursue a transfer. CSNPhilly.com's Ryan Bright pulls a few quotes from Coyle via Sportinglife.com. Coyle said:
"Sebastien came in for a couple of days, and to be fair to him he hadn't trained for four or five weeks. He did fine and that's where it is. We'd have probably needed a longer look."
So where does this leave the Union in terms of depth at the forward position? As it stands, they currently they have Le Toux, Danny Mwanga, Jack McInerney, first round pick Chandler Hoffman, and new signing Josue Martinez. I cannot imagine they'd carry five forwards in the regular season.
What are they going to do? Well, in what can only be described as oddly-timed news, the Union released a statement yesterday announcing that Mwanga had departed for "a 10-day training stint with Barclay's English Premier League side Aston Villa". Why is the timing odd? Well, training camp opens next week (fitness testing has actually already begun).
Yes, a number of Union players have trained with European clubs this offseason (Freddy Adu, MacMath, Amobi Okugo, Zach Pfeffer, Michael Farfan, and Le Toux), but the key word there is "offseason". Why allow Mwanga to leave on a training spell on the eve of preseason camp?
I don't think Mwanga is even close to being ready to make the jump to the Premier League, so I am not too concerned about a transfer to Aston Villa, but the timing is certainly odd.
Finally, just because it was so absurd, here is video of Barcelona's Dani Alves striking an absolute laser guided missile of a goal from earlier in the week against Real Madrid in the second leg of the Copa Del Rey quaterfinals.

Photo Credit: Brett Davis, US-Presswire

Steve Mason rediscovers himself in New York just before Flyers' return

Steve Mason rediscovers himself in New York just before Flyers' return

It had been a while since Steve Mason saw himself.

Walking into the Barclays Center on Sunday, the Flyers’ goalie was 0-6-2 with a 4.03 goals-against average and .844 save percentage over his last 10 appearances (see more recent Flyers numbers and stats).

A far cry of how Mason truly sees himself in net.

But heading into Wednesday’s rivalry clash with the Rangers, Mason will have something to build on, something he couldn’t say since Dec. 21 - the last previous time he had earned a victory. He’s fresh off his first win in over a month, a massive one for Mason considering all the key moments on Sunday the Flyers hope invigorate his confidence.

Without numerous clutch stops from their goalie, the Flyers don’t come back from two goals down to beat the Islanders, 3-2, in overtime. Mason made four saves  — three on four-time All-Star John Tavares — in just over a minute of a third-period power play. The Flyers ended up having to kill two New York man advantages in the final 10 minutes of regulation in order to force overtime.

The extra session is when Mason was just as good, if not better, stoning Tavares on a breakaway attempt that had game-winner written all over it. Mason made four saves in overtime after 13 in the third period.

“I was happy with the way that, personally, this game went for myself,” Mason said Sunday. “It’s been a tough stretch and this is more the type of game that I expect of myself. In recent games, the team was lacking the big saves and tonight it shows what kind of difference it can make.”

It was a massive performance heading into a massive three-game stretch against the Rangers, Maple Leafs and Hurricanes.

“Mase made some huge saves for us,” Simmonds said. “It allowed us to get back in that game.

“It’s not just Mase [with the] ups and downs. Everyone in here has been kind of fighting it and squeezing sticks pretty tight. That one felt good and I think Mase led the charge for sure.”

Mason understands just one game doesn’t turn around a season.

“It’s nice to feel good after a game,” Mason said. “At the same time, whether you’re winning or losing, you have to have a short mindset and get ready for the next one.”

That brings the Flyers to Madison Square Garden Wednesday to face the Rangers, who they’ve lost five straight games to dating back to last season. Mason hasn’t had much luck against New York this season, allowing seven goals in two losses with an .860 save percentage. However, in 2015-16, Mason put up a 1.74 goals-against average and .941 save percentage in five games against the Rangers.

“That’s going to be a tough game going into MSG,” Mason said Tuesday (see story).

The good thing: Mason was in New York two days ago, remembering what he can be.

Manute Bol's 7-foot, 17-year-old son dominates in HS season debut

ap-bol-bol.jpg
AP Images

Manute Bol's 7-foot, 17-year-old son dominates in HS season debut

Bol Bol, the 17-year-old son of the late Manute Bol, is a top high school basketball prospect with offers from schools like Arizona, Kansas and Creighton. This highlight tape should give you an idea why.
 
Bol, whose father played in the NBA for parts of 12 seasons, including 215 games for the Sixers, now attends the famed Mater Dei High School in California and played in his first game of the season this past weekend. Listed as the No. 16 overall prospect in the 2018 recruiting class by Scout, Bol started his season off with a big 21-point, 10-rebound effort.
 
Take a look at the highlight tape from the 6-foot-11 Bol and expect to see him carry on his father’s legacy on the court at a major NCAA college basketball program soon.