Birds Out to Put Preseason Behind Them

Birds Out to Put Preseason Behind Them

Whether it meant anything or not--and trust me, it didn't--last week's preseason debacle in Pittsburgh took the wind right out of the Eagles' sails.

Nobody wants to get embarrassed like that, least of all on national television, even if technically it didn't count. And naturally, with all the hype surrounding this franchise right now, an effort like last week's is bound to get blown out of proportion.

That should explain why Andy Reid and the boys are taking tonight's meeting with the Browns a lot more seriously--even though, again, these games carry little weight. That said, we are entering the third week of the scrimmage period, which is traditionally treated as the most relevant around the league.

So nobody is going to complain if the Birds play to win this one.

Conversely, should the Eagles suffer a similar fate tonight, in their own building against a perennial loser, the bandwagon will undoubtedly be less full by the time the regular season kicks off in little more than two weeks.

Just about anybody that I spoke to or who reads this blog either disagreed with or was surprised by my indifference toward last week's shellacking. (Big surprise there.) The thing is, it's nothing we haven't seen before.

Last season, Cincinnati roughed up the Birds 22-9, and Michael Vick looked dreadful. In '09, it was the Colts dissecting the secondary en route to a 23-15 victory. And the year prior to that, Carolina took a 6-0 lead into the locker room, only for the reserves to rescue a W by scoring 24 fourth quarter points.

What those three performances all have in common, besides disappointment in either the first team offense/defense or both, is each one happened in Week 2. The Eagles have recently wrapped up training camp, and the intensity, focus and preparation simply aren't there, perhaps even intentionally.

Meanwhile, all three of those teams were in the playoffs, making a run to the NFC Championship game in '08, while climbing into the picture for a post-season bye each of the past two seasons. Needless to say, when we claim the preseason measures little, we mean it.

Yes, this is the "most important" exhibition game (sort of like saying John Beck is the Redskins "best" quarterback). And yes, the expectations tonight are they must have a strong outing versus an inferior opponent.

But the final score of tonight's exhibition game with the Cleveland Browns is not going to make or break their season. You know that as well as anybody, so try to just enjoy the game.

Brett Brown says Ben Simmons will return in January

Brett Brown says Ben Simmons will return in January

Ben Simmons is on track to return to the Sixers in January, Brett Brown told the Philadelphia Inquirer on Friday. 

Previous reports indicated that Simmons, who suffered a Jones fracture in his right foot in the Sixers' final training camp scrimmage on Sept. 30, would be out three months. Friday's news jives with that, but this is the first time the Sixers have given a timetable.

"It's not doom and gloom," Brown said. "Ben is coming back in January. We are still trying to find information on Jerryd (Bayless). Jahlil (Okafor) is still trying to touch the court in his first preseason game."

With long-term ramifications in mind, there had been some speculation that Simmons' camp wanted him to sit all season. 

This is rather encouraging news and it means the Sixers may avoid watching another of their top picks miss his entire first year.

Union offering great deals on field level seats ahead of MLS Cup Playoffs

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Union offering great deals on field level seats ahead of MLS Cup Playoffs

Playoff soccer is returning to Chester for the first time in five years, and while fans prep for the Union’s first postseason games since 2011, there is no shortage of seating options for Union tickets on the primary market.

Perhaps most importantly, fans won’t have to break the bank to be on hand as the Union compete for their first MLS Cup in franchise history. Union field level seats are available for both the team’s final home regular season game against the New York Red Bulls and the Eastern Conference Semifinal on October 30 should they advance past the knockout round.

The team’s official website lists feet-on-the-pitch seating starting from $155 per ticket for this weekend’s game against the Red Bulls. The first-place Red Bulls head to Talen Energy Stadium with a first-round bye secured, but Union head coach Jim Curtin expects them to bring the pressure with them on Sunday. Fans can look on up close – and for relatively cheap - as the Union look to hand the Eastern Conference leaders their final loss of the regular season.

The Union will take on either New York City FC or Toronto FC in the knockout round either next Wednesday or Thursday. Pending a victory on the road, they’ll return to Talen Energy Stadium to host an Eastern Conference Semifinal game on October 30. Field level seating is still widely available for the team’s first home playoff game since 2011 and start from $178 per ticket.

2016 marks the franchise’s second MLS Cup Playoffs berth in its seven-year existence. They clinched a first-round bye in 2011 but fell to the Houston Dynamo by a 3-1 aggregate in the Conference Semifinals. The Union bring a much different vibe into the playoffs this season, however, after a formidable stretch from September on nearly drowned their postseason hopes. The team won its last game on August 27 against Sporting Kansas City, losing four games and drawing in two others since. 

Despite the team’s recent struggles, there is a sense of renewment that will carry them into the MLS Cup Playoffs. Records are cast aside and the slate is wiped clean, beginning a new path on the long and often tumultuous road to a national championship.