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Fighting Off Rock Bottom: Union Face Winless Toronto

Fighting Off Rock Bottom: Union Face Winless Toronto

Last weekend's MLS action offered little comfort for local fans who were either worried about the Union's ability to make positive headway or angry at the team's decision to trade Danny Califf. The U struggled through a first half they were lucky to have played against a mediocre Dallas side that was missing a handful of regulars, though the Union's somewhat more cohesive second half effort and salvage of a point was a hell of a lot better than an outright loss. 
Immediately after that game concluded, Califf's debut with Chivas USA began and was televised nationally. Califf, who'd previously been deemed too injured to play for the Union and even publicly debated the fact amidst tensions with Peter Nowak, was instrumental in Chivas' first win over the LA Galaxy since 2007. The former Union captain was named Man of the Match in the 1-0 victory. While I couldn't have been happier to see Califf succeed, the night begged to be labeled "bittersweet." 
It's in the past now, and the Union face Toronto FC (0-9-0) at 4:30 [TCN] on the banks of Lake Ontario. Will they take three points from possibly the worst team in North America, who also happen to be the Canadian champions? 
The Union could use a decisive victory, even against a team that so far can't beat anyone. But from the depths of Toronto, your eye doesn't have to travel too far up the table to find Philadelphia, who are in second place with only 8 points (2-6-2) of their own. So let's not chalk this up as anything just yet… Toronto fans are probably saying there's no better opportunity for their side to earn their first points of the season.  
Last Week RewinderMy worries heading into the Dallas match and the start of the post-Califf era were somewhat widespread, but for the purposes of the on-field product, I hoped they wouldn't miss his height on the backline. Before 8 minutes were off the clock, they were beaten on a corner, with 6'1 striker Blas Perez heading home a volley in the box. While Califf's presence didn't stop those same things from happening while he was with the Union, Keon Daniel was clearly overmatched and miscast in trying to slow Perez on a few set pieces in this one. 
The Union lacked any consistent or threatening form in the first half, which isn't a surprise given a few key absences. Chase Harrison filled in admirably for the concussed Zac MacMath, taking a sound physical beating but withstanding the barrage after Perez's early goal. Newcomer Michael Lahoud was mixed into the starting XI, as Peter Nowak likes to get the new blood flowing as soon as its the kit. Not sure I agree with the logic, particularly in a match that already had a few key players out for the Union. The second half featured more control by the Union though, who equalized and narrowly missed on some solid opportunities that would have put them ahead. 
The latter 45 minutes were an overall good sign heading tonight's Must Win Or It Will Be Completely Embarrassing tilt with Toronto. 
Kings of the North(?)TFC will also be looking to build on success from their last time out. Although they have lost all of their MLS matches this season, they did beat Vancouver, 1-0, on Wednesday in CONCACAF play to take the Canadian Championship. Again, they may not be the pushover you might expect from a team looking to avoid a tenth straight loss to start the season. 
Toronto's offense has scored only seven goals through nine matches, and the team has conceded 21. Their offense is underachieving so far, which is to say, they're not quite as bad as their results have been. Kevin Kinkead points out that designated player Danny Koevermans has missed time due to a groin injury, while fellow DP Ryan Johnson has missed all but one of his 28 shots. 
KK has more on Toronto's offensive and defensive sets here. 
The last time the Union were in Toronto, they put together their most explosive effort in the young franchise's history, winning 6-2. However, with all the turnover since that time, it's a stretch to apply anything from that match to this one. Remember these guys? That was a year and 2 days ago. The various factors affecting both sides in the current season to date the only things worth looking to for an idea of how this matchup will work out. 
Re-UnionPeter Nowak hopes to have MacMath back in goal today afters sitting out last match with concussion symptoms. Harrison is not available, which is no surprise given how often the physical match against Dallas involved decleating contact with the Union backup. [UPDATE: @thegoalkeeper says MacMath is out again, so Chris Konopka is the man for the Union...]
Gabriel Gomez scored the Union's lone goal last weekend, but a late, hard, arial leg-whipping from Dallas keeper Kevin Hartman on the play cost Gomez the rest of the match with a quad injury:
No word as of this posting as to whether Gomez will play tonight, but after the game, he will leave the Union, answering a call-up from his Panama national team for World Cup qualifying. [UPDATE: He's out.]
Getting Freddy Adu back should significantly help the Union's chances of getting a result. He was playing his best match with the Union against NY Red Bulls two weekends ago when he was issued his second yellow card, a BS diving call that also forced his absence in Dallas. With Adu back, Nowak will likely look to attack with two strikers (presumably Danny Mwanga and Lio Pajoy), with Adu pulling the strings against a shoddy defense that should find itself overmatched by a Union attack that has shown signs of life in this formation. He also resumes the majority of the free kicks and corners, another area Keon struggled to fill in last week. Nothing against Keon, one of our favorite players here at the Level, but hopefully the returning players allow his game to focus on its strengths. 
Carlos Valdes was bloodied in Dallas, but Nowak has said he's fine to play today. With his former centerback partner gone, Valdes gets the captain's armband and control of the backline. They're in good hands with #5. Sheanon Williams will presumably lineup inside with him again, a miscasting of his size and speed, but the team is limited in its CB options. The expensively disappointing Porfirio Lopez could see his season salvaged as an interior defender, but for now, he's still a reserve. 
In this particular matchup, the team's desire to play its defenders high should provide the desired benefit of sustained attacks against a weak defensive opponent, without quite as much potential for counterattack as most other MLS sides. We hope, anyway. 
The Union could really use a full-game effort, rather than the good-half/bad-half efforts we've seen recently. We'll try to update with Nowak's chosen lineup if we're still in front of computers when i
t's released. Planning on watching this one through the smoke of a barbecue... 
(Photos by John E. Sokolowski and Jerome Miron, US Presswire)

CSNPhilly Internship - Advertising/Sales

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CSNPhilly Internship - Advertising/Sales

Position Title: Intern
Department: Advertising/Sales
Company: Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia
# of hours / week: 10 – 20 hours

Deadline: November 20

Basic Function

This position will work closely with the Vice President of Sales in generating revenue through commercial advertisements and sponsorship sales. The intern will gain first-hand sales experience through working with Sales Assistants and AEs on pitches, sales-calls and recapping material.

Duties and Responsibilities

• Assist Account Executive on preparation of Sales Presentations
• Cultivate new account leads for local sales
• Track sponsorships in specified programs
• Assist as point of contact with sponsors on game night set up and pre-game hospitality elements.
• Assist with collection of all proof of performance materials.
• Perform Competitive Network Analysis
• Update Customer database
• Other various projects as assigned

Requirements

1. Good oral and written communication skills.
2. Knowledge of sports.
3. Ability to work non-traditional hours, weekends & holidays
4. Ability to work in a fast-paced, high-pressure environment
5. Must be 19 years of age or older
6. Must be a student in pursuit of an Associate, Bachelor, Master or Juris Doctor degree
7. Must have unrestricted authorization to work in the US
8. Must have sophomore standing or above
9. Must have a 3.0 GPA

Interested students should apply here and specify they're interested in the ad/sales internship.

About NBC internships

Jake Elliott drills 2 field goals in game's final minute to push Eagles past Giants

Jake Elliott drills 2 field goals in game's final minute to push Eagles past Giants

BOX SCORE

Jake Elliott is getting a free beer tonight. Anywhere in Philadelphia.

The Eagles' rookie kicker drilled a 61-yard field goal as the clock ran out to give the Eagles a 27-24 win at Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday.

After giving fans heart attacks throughout the Delaware Valley, the Eagles pulled off a tight win on Sunday afternoon at the Linc.

The Eagles let the Giants back into the game, but were able to take them down 27-24.

With the win, the Eagles improve to 2-1 on the season and are 2-0 in the division. Meanwhile, the Giants are off to a disastrous start at 0-3.

The Giants came into the weekend against the ropes and the Eagles might have delivered the knockout punch. Although it wasn't pretty. It'll be extremely tough for the Giants to rebound from an 0-3 start.

The Eagles defense was pitching a shutout until the fourth quarter and they were doing it without four starters on defense. They didn't have Rodney McLeod or Ronald Darby and then they lost Fletcher Cox and Jordan Hicks during the game.

The Giants were shutout on their first seven drives but put up 21 points in less than six minutes in the fourth quarter.

On offense, Doug Pederson actually called running plays and they worked. LeGarrette Blount led the way and the Eagles were able to make big gains on the ground against the Giants' talented front four.

Turning point
The field goal. Duh.

Key stat
The 61-yarder from Elliott is a franchise record.

Key plays
•Alshon Jeffery caught a 19-yard pass to put the Eagles in field goal range and Elliott came through.

•Elliott hit a 46-yard field goal to tie the game at 24-24 with 51 seconds left.

•Malcolm Jenkins was called for a pass interference that led to the Giants' field goal that put them up 24-21.

•Torrey Smith was able to draw a huge 36-yard defensive pass interference and rookie Corey Clement ran for a 15-yard touchdown on the next play to tie the score at 21-21.

•Sterling Shepard caught a quick slant in front of Patrick Robinson and Chris Maragos couldn't make the play as Shepard went for a 77-yard touchdown to give the Giants a 21-14 lead.

•Odell Beckham Jr. made a ridiculous one-handed catch in the end zone to tie the game at 14-14. Jalen Mills had tight coverage but it didn't matter.

•Zach Ertz caught a quick pass but then fumbled the ball away to give the Giants great field position at the Eagles' 33-yard line.

•The Giants broke the shutout early in the fourth quarter, when Eli Manning hit Beckham Jr. for a 10-yard touchdown. After the play, Beckham was flagged for his celebration. He acted like a dog and fake urinated on the field.

•The Eagles stopped the Giants on 4th-and-2 late in the third quarter. They made it down to the Eagles' 13-yard line before the stop. Tim Jernigan provided the pressure and Patrick Robinson broke up the pass. The play before, Mills had a great PBU.

•On a broken play, Wentz tried to hit Jeffery deep but Eli Apple tackled him before the ball got there. That 41-yard pass interference penalty set up the second touchdown of the game and helped the Eagles go up 14-0.

•Mychal Kendricks tipped up a Manning pass and Robinson pulled in an interception. It was their second of the day.

•Elliott missed a 52-yarder that would have given them a two-score game early in the third quarter. He had plenty of leg but pulled it left.

•The Eagles dropped running back Orleans Darkwa for a one-yard loss on 4th-and-goal from the 1-yard line late in the second quarter. Vinny Curry blew up the play and Joe Walker helped take Darkwa down.

•On the play before the goal line stand, Shepard should have had a touchdown but he couldn't complete the catch to the ground. The Eagles got away with one there.

•The Giants had a short field to work with on their near-touchdown drive because of an over-aggressive play call from Pederson. The Eagles' head coach went for it on 4th-and-8 at the Giants' 43-yard line. Wentz was sacked for a loss. The Eagles could have punted and tried to pin the feeble Giants offense deep.

•Rasul Douglas got his first career interception in the second quarter when Manning tried to hit Brandon Marshall deep down the left side of the field. The rookie high-pointed the ball and brought it down.

•It wasn't really a play but the Eagles' 18-play, 90-yard drive in the first half was a beauty. They took 9:34 off the clock before Blount punched in a one-yard touchdown.

•During that drive, Wentz pulled off another crazy Houdini move on third down. He somehow slipped away from would-be tacklers and scrambled for an 11-yard gain and a first down to keep it going.

Offensive stud
Maybe Blount got a chance to introduce himself to Pederson this week. After not getting a single carry last week, Blount had a big game against the Giants.

Offensive dud
Chance Warmack started the game at left guard, gave up a sack and was then pulled for Stefen Wisniewski. He returned but didn't do much.

And Ertz just can't fumble the ball in that situation.

Defensive stud
Kendricks had a big game. He had the assist on the interception and a big run stuff later.

Defensive dud
It's hard to give this to Mills, but we'll have to. He actually had a pretty good game but couldn't stop Beckham Jr. on the two touchdowns. It's fair to say there aren't many who would have been able to stop him, though.

Injuries
The Eagles were without McLeod (hamstring), Jaylen Watkins (hamstring), Corey Graham (hamstring), Darby (ankle) and Destiny Vaeao (wrist) for the game.

Cox (calf), Hicks (ankle) and Darren Sproles (wrist) left the game in the first half and did not return.

Up next
The Eagles will be in Los Angeles next week to take on the Chargers. It'll be the first of two trips to LA this season.