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.

Best of NBA: Heat stun Warriors on Dion Waiters' 3 with 0.6 seconds left

Best of NBA: Heat stun Warriors on Dion Waiters' 3 with 0.6 seconds left

MIAMI -- Dion Waiters' 3-pointer with 0.6 seconds left capped his 33-point effort, and the Miami Heat beat Golden State 105-102 on Monday night to end the Warriors' seven-game winning streak.

The Heat wasted a 10-point lead in the final 4 minutes, and Kevin Durant tied the game on a dunk with 11.7 seconds left. With no timeouts, Waiters walked the ball up the court and drilled what became the game-winner over Klay Thompson.

Stephen Curry missed a 3-pointer as time expired for the Warriors (see full recap).

Rivers, Crawford lead Clippers past Hawks
ATLANTA -- Austin Rivers scored 27 points and Jamal Crawford broke out of a shooting slump with 19, helping the Los Angeles Clippers beat the Atlanta Hawks 115-105 on Monday night.

Crawford had eight points in the fourth quarter, including a driving basket after Atlanta cut the Clippers' lead from 24 to five points.

Kent Bazemore led the Hawks with 25 points. Dennis Schroder had 21, and Dwight Howard added 16 points and 12 rebounds (see full recap).

Wizards beat Hornets behind Wall’s 24
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- John Wall firmly believes the Washington Wizards are a good team with plenty of playoff potential.

The key, he said, "is we just got to believe it every time we step on the court."

Wall had 24 points and seven assists, and the Wizards looked plenty confident as they continued their run up the Eastern Conference standings with a 109-99 win against the Charlotte Hornets on Monday night (see full recap).

Kings snap skid with win over Pistons
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- DeMarcus Cousins had 22 points and 14 rebounds, and the Sacramento Kings snapped a five-game losing streak with a 109-104 victory over the Detroit Pistons on Monday night.

Ty Lawson added 19 points and helped Sacramento turn the game around with a strong second quarter. Lawson scored nine points in the second, and the Kings outscored the Pistons 37-24 in the period to take a 65-62 lead into halftime.

A 3-pointer by Lawson put Sacramento up 101-90 in the fourth, and the Kings held on from there to stop Detroit's three-game winning streak (see full recap).

Jones, Holiday lead Pelicans past Cavs
NEW ORLEANS -- Terrence Jones filled in brilliantly for injured All-Star Anthony Davis, scoring a season-high 36 points, grabbing 11 rebounds and blocking LeBron James' dunk attempt in the fourth quarter, and the New Orleans Pelicans beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 124-122 on Monday night.

Jrue Holiday added 33 points and 10 assists for the Pelicans, and Langston Galloway capped a 12-point night with a clean steal on James' drive in the final minute, preventing the Cavs from erasing a deficit they had trimmed from 22 late in the first half to three with 1:32 left in the game.

Kyrie Irving scoring 35 of his 49 points in the second half, but the Cleveland fell to its fifth loss in seven games. James had 26 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds (see full recap).

Best of NHL: Henrik Lundqvist's 36 saves leads Rangers past Kings

Best of NHL: Henrik Lundqvist's 36 saves leads Rangers past Kings

NEW YORK -- Henrik Lundqvist stopped 36 shots to lead the New York Rangers over the Los Angeles Kings 3-2 on Monday night.

Brandon Pirri, Matt Puempel and Mats Zuccarello scored to help New York win its third straight since a three-game skid.

Jordan Nolan and Kyle Clifford scored, and Jeff Zatkoff finished with 14 saves for Los Angeles, which has lost four straight and five of seven.

Lundqvist has given up just four goals on 84 shots during the winning streak -- including a 1-0 shutout at Detroit on Monday -- after allowing 20 on 113 shots the previous four games.

The veteran goalie needed to be at his best in this one as the Kings, who last played Saturday across town against the Islanders, seemed a step faster from the start and controlled play for most of the first two periods (see full recap).

Caps top 'Canes to extend point streak to 14 games
WASHINGTON -- Defenseman Dmitry Orlov scored twice and the Washington Capitals kept the offense rolling to beat the Carolina Hurricanes 6-1 on Monday night and extend their point streak to 14 games.

Orlov doubled his goal output for the season and Justin Williams, Evgeny Kuznetsov, T.J. Oshie and Lars Eller also scored for the Capitals, who have won three in a row and haven't lost in regulation since Dec. 27. Washington scored on six of its 25 shots on Cam Ward and handed Carolina its fourth consecutive loss.

Braden Holtby made 25 saves for his 23rd victory of the season. The only goal he allowed came from Jordan Staal on the power play in the first period.

The Capitals allowed the first goal for the first time in 11 games but scored six unanswered to continue their winning ways. They've scored 44 goals in their past eight games (see full recap).

Kadri reaches 20 goals as Leafs beat Flames
TORONTO -- Nazem Kadri scored twice to tie his career high with 20 goals this season, Frederik Andersen stopped 26 shots and the Toronto Maple Leafs ended a two-game winless streak with a 4-0 win over the Calgary Flames on Monday night.

Kadri beat Brian Elliott twice, and Andersen captured his second shutout as a Leaf.

Rookies Mitch Marner and Zach Hyman also scored for Toronto, which sits third in the Atlantic Division with 53 points.

Elliott gave up four goals on 28 shots, dropping his fourth consecutive start.

The Flames have lost three in a row and five of the past six. They are a point up on Vancouver for the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference (see full recap).