Matchday 21: Shorthanded Union Host Chicago Fire

Matchday 21: Shorthanded Union Host Chicago Fire

The Union look to continue their recent good form at home as they welcome the Chicago Fire to PPL Park (7PM/Comcast SportsNet). The U, who have won four consecutive games at home, need to start stringing some wins together if they hope to make a second-half playoff push.

John Hackworth's team will be without the services of a few key players. Captain Carlos Valdes was called in by the Colombian National Team for training in advance of World Cup Qualifying. Similarly, Gabriel Gomez (Panama) and Keon Daniel (Trinidad & Tobago) were called into their respective national team camps for midweek friendlies (UPDATE: Daniel apparently has not yet left for T&T's camp as he is in the starting lineup).

Jack McInereny will be out as he serves a red card suspension for his retaliatory push of Montreal Impact player Nelson Rivas after Rivas headbutted Antoine Hoppenot. Hoppenot suffered a broken nasal bone, but should be available to play tonight. What do all of these absences mean?

Well, we will likely see the Union debut of Bakary Soumare, who should slide into Carlos Valdes' spot next to Amobi Okugo in the center of the Union backline. With Gomez unavailable you'd imagine that Michael Lahoud would get the starting nod in the midfield. Finally, without McInereny available I am guessing Hackworth will start Lionard Pajoy at one forward spot. He'll then likely choose between Josue Martinez and the now fully fit Chandler Hoffman, who has recovered from a broken toe, to play with Pajoy.

These two teams last met on March 24th at Toyota Park where the Fire walked away 1-0 winners. The Union team who lost to the Fire that day is a vastly different one than will take the field today. Peter Nowak's starting XI included Chris Albright, Porfirio Lopez, Roger Torres and Danny Mwanga, Neither Albright, Lopez or Torres has seen many minutes since then - and Mwanga was jettisoned to Portland.

Fire manager Frank Klopas has his team in fifth place in the MLS Eastern Conference - five points ahead of Montreal. Chicago is 3-5-3 away from Toyota Park with a -4 road goal differential.

Philadelphia native Dan Gargan, who played his high school ball at Chestnut Hill Academy, returns to his hometown as a regular contributor for the Fire. He's appeared in 19 games this season, starting 17 of them. He was replaced in the starting lineup last week by Gonzalo Segares, but I'd imagine Klopas would give him the nod in his return to his hometown.

Offensively Chicago is paced by Marco Pappa (6 goals) and Dominic Oduro (5 goals). Chris Rolfe, who returned to Chicago after playing in Denmark for a few years, has scored 2 goals in just 10 appearances since returning to MLS. Pavel Pardo and Logan Pause control things in the midfield for Chicago. Sean Johnson, who was just named to Jurgen Klinsmann's USMNT roster for the friendly against Mexico on Wednesday, should be between the sticks before leaving for Mexico City.

Pajoy, who has had chances to finish recently, will need to convert opportunities with McInereny out serving his suspension. The Union played well enough against Montreal last week, but just could not finish in the final third. Someone will need to shoulder the goal scoring load. If nothing else their depth will be tested tonight.

Did Corey Davis reveal he wants to be drafted by Eagles?

Did Corey Davis reveal he wants to be drafted by Eagles?

We finally know who the Eagles will select this Thursday in the first round of the 2017 NFL draft.

No need to tune into the draft broadcast, or even visit the Benjamin Franklin Parkway to partake in all of the festivities. Just look at Corey Davis' Twitter feed:


Done deal. Get him a cheesesteak and a midnight green uniform.

But in all seriousness, Davis made an appearance Monday on ESPN and retweeted this tweet to Trey Wingo.

Davis would certainly make an immediate impact on the Eagles' offense. He would join a receiving corps already bolstered in free agency with the additions of Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith.

But the Western Michigan product might not be on the board at the 14th overall pick, and the Eagles could look elsewhere on Thursday night.

The700Level's Andrew Kulp wrote about Davis at length here.

h/t to bleedinggreennation.com.

Place Your Bets: NFL draft first-round odds

Place Your Bets: NFL draft first-round odds

So, you think you know where every player will be selected in the first round of the 2017 NFL draft?

Well, here are some odds, courtesy of Bovada, to help you gauge your early predictions for the draft in Philly this week.

Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford
We start with McCaffrey, probably the most talked about prospect in Philadelphia entering the first round on Thursday.

Eagles tight end Zach Ertz compared McCaffrey to Darren Sproles. Stanford head coach David Shaw thinks not only would McCaffrey be a good fit in the Eagles' offense, but would also be a great fit in the city of Philadelphia.

Bovada has 2/3 odds of McCaffrey being selected over the 9.5 pick, and has 11/10 odds of him being selected under the 9.5 pick.

CSNPhilly.com's Dave Zangaro has McCaffrey being selected at No. 15 overall by the Indianapolis Colts -- the pick after the Eagles, who are slotted at No. 14 -- in his mock draft.

Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU
Fournette has consistently been in the top 10, or sometimes even the top five, of mock drafts.

Many teams covet Fournette for his combination of strength and speed. The LSU product is 6-foot, 240 pounds and ran a 4.51 40-yard dash at the NFL scouting combine.

Bovada has 2/3 odds of Fournette getting selected over the fourth pick and 11/10 odds of him getting drafted after the fourth pick.

How many RBs/WRs will be selected in first round?
Since Bovada has the same odds for the number of running backs and wide receivers going in the first round, we combined the two.

If you're living under a rock and haven't been following NFL mock drafts since the season ended, there have been three running backs and wide receivers consistently selected in the first round -- WR Mike Williams, WR Corey Davis, WR John Ross, RB Dalvin Cook, RB McCaffrey and RB Fournette.

Here are the identical odds for both position groups:

Over 2.5 with 1/5 odds.
Under 2.5 with 3/1 odds.

How many defensive players will be selected in first round?
This one can get tricky, because you'll have to bank on a few teams getting desperate and drafting some quarterbacks to hit the under.

Over 18.5 with 1/1 odds.
Under 18.5 with 5/7 odds.

How many Alabama players will be selected in first round?
Alabama is the gold standard for NFL players. Every year, the university churns out first-round talent on the opening night of the draft.

In Zangaro's afformentioned mock draft, he has five Alabama players being selected.

Here are the odds:

Over 4.5 with 11/10 odds.
Under 4.5 with 2/3 odds.