Matchday 7: No Nowak, No Garfan, No Daniel, No Problem?

Matchday 7: No Nowak, No Garfan, No Daniel, No Problem?

The Union, who have held the opposition scoreless over the last 332 minutes, host the San Jose Earthquakes (7PM/Comcast SportsNet) and Chris Wondolowski, who coming into play today was tied with Thierry Henry for the MLS goal scoring lead. The Union will attempt to shut down Wondo without the benefit of a number of familiar faces.
Manager Peter Nowak, starting left back Gabriel Farfan and starting midfielder Keon Daniel will all miss the game due to suspension. Losing Garfan will certainly hurt a defense that has kept three consecutive clean sheets. The back line will likely welcome back Danny Califf, who has been out with a hamstring injury. With Garfan out and Califf returning it remains to be seen how they'll line up in the back.
Rookie Raymon Gaddis has done a solid job since being introduced to the starting lineup. I can't imagine the Union coaching staff wants to move him from his right back spot. With that in mind we'll likely see Sheanon Williams get the start at left back. An outside back combination of Gaddis and Williams certainly brings a ton of pace to the table. A back four of Gaddis, Califf, Carlos Valdes, and Williams could be the the back line combination of choice for a Union team recommitted to locking things down defensively.
While they seem to have figured things out in their defensive third, questions remain as to their ability to create and finish chances in the final third. The Union have scored a meager four goals in seven games. Gabriel Gomez is their leading scorer - with two goals (one from a free kick and the other from a penalty kick). The only other players to score a goal are Freddy Adu and Lionard Pajoy. 
Adu has been fantastic since returning from Olympic qualifying. He's flashed the sort of skill and attacking mindset you're accustomed to seeing from him when wearing a US shirt. Michael Farfan has also played really well of late. His ability to get to the end line, take players on 1 v. 1 and deliver a cross have been on display recently - never more so than his cutting run and service on Adu's backheel goal last week against Chivas
The Earthquakes come to town atop the Western Conference table. The Quakes have accumulated 16 points from seven games (5-1-1). They've been paced by Wondolowski, the 2010 MLS Golden Boot winner, who has scored eight goals thus far. Amazingly, Wondolowski is the only San Jose player who has scored more than one goal so far this season. Khari Stephenson, former Union man Shea Salina (who is out injured), Rafael Baca, Alan Gordon and Simon Dawkins have each scored a single goal thus far. 
The Quakes have only conceded five goals in seven games. Jon Busch starts between the sticks. He plays behind a back line of Steven Beitashour, Ike Opara, Jason Hernandez and Justin Morrow.
It remains to be seen who will step into the role normally occupied by Keon Daniel. Could we see the debut of Kai Herdling in the Union midfield? Perhaps homegrown player Zach Pfeffer may get the call?
Starting Lineup I'd Like to See: Zac MacMath, Gaddis, Califf, Valdes, Williams, Brian Carroll, Adu, Gomez, Herdling, M. Farfan, Pajoy.
Final Score Prediction: I know I've predicted a lot of ties, but I see this one ending 1-1. 
Photo Credit: Jason O. Watson, US Presswire

Hall of Fame defensive tackle Cortez Kennedy dies at 48

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AP Images

Hall of Fame defensive tackle Cortez Kennedy dies at 48

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Hall of Fame defensive tackle Cortez Kennedy has died in Orlando.

Police say the 48-year-old former Seattle Seahawks star was found dead on Tuesday morning.

Orlando Police Department public information officer Wanda Miglio said the circumstances surrounding his death are still unknown, but that there is nothing suspicious about his death. An investigation is being conducted.

One of the best defensive lineman of his generation, Kennedy was a star in his 11 seasons in the NFL with the Seahawks. He became the second Seattle player inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2012. He was an unmovable wall as a dominant defensive tackle, and a quiet, gentle soul away from the field never interested in finding himself in the spotlight.

Kennedy was an eight-time Pro Bowler and won the NFL Defensive Player of the Year award in 1992.

"Really sad to lose a guy like Cortez Kennedy," Broncos' general manager John Elway tweeted Tuesday. Elway was chased around by Kennedy twice a year for much of the 1990s as competitors in the AFC West. "A great personality, a great player and I enjoyed competing against him."

Even though he last played for the Seahawks in 2000, he remained a significant part of the organization. He was a mainstay around the team during training camp and would occasionally roll through the locker room during the regular season grabbing a few minutes with anyone -- players, coaches, media -- up for a chat.

"My heart hurts," current Seahawks offensive lineman Justin Britt tweeted. "We lost a truly great player but even better person."

10 observations from Day 1 of Eagles' OTAs

10 observations from Day 1 of Eagles' OTAs

There was finally some football in South Philly on Tuesday as the Eagles kicked off the first round of their OTAs. 

Aside from a few notable absences -- Fletcher Cox, Jason Peters, Donnie Jones, Marcus Smith -- the Eagles had just about everyone on the field (see story)

Here are 10 observations from Tuesday's practice: 

1. Here's how the first-team offense looked: 
QB: Carson Wentz
RB: LeGarrette Blount
TE: Zach Ertz
OL (left to right): Lane Johnson, Isaac Seumalo, Jason Kelce, Brandon Brooks, Halapoulivaati Vaitai
WR: Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith, Jordan Matthews

2. Here's how the first-team defense looked: 
LDE: Brandon Graham
LDT: Destiny Vaeao
RDT: Tim Jernigan
RDE: Vinny Curry
LBs: Jordan Hicks, Nigel Bradham, Mychal Kendricks
S: Malcolm Jenkins, Rodney McLeod
CB: Jalen Mills, Patrick Robinson. 

Note: In the nickel package, rookie third-rounder Rasul Douglas came on the field as an outside cornerback and Mills slid into the slot. 

3. Early in the practice, in an offense-only drill, the Eagles were trying to audible into a new play, but there was some confusion with Blount, who didn't seem to know the play. Blount is still obviously learning the playbook, but it shows the respect they have for him that he was working with the ones already. 

4. The play the Eagles wanted to get into during that drill was a good one. Wentz rolled out to his right and found Jeffery streaking across the field. The two seem to be getting on just fine. 

Although later in 11-on-11s, Wentz tossed up an ill-advised pass deep to Jeffery in tight coverage and the ball was picked by McLeod. Jeffery will win a lot of battles, but that one was too much. 

5. Linebacker Joe Walker and cornerback Ron Brooks were on the field on Tuesday but didn't participate in team drills. Walker (ACL) and Brooks (quad tendon) are both recovering from significant injuries. 

6. The Eagles lined up a few times with Darren Sproles and Donnel Pumphrey on the field together. Those few times, Sproles was in the backfield and Pumphrey lined up in the slot. It's early, but we might get to see some creativity from Doug Pederson with these two this year. 

7. Dillon Gordon, whom the Eagles signed as an undrafted rookie last year, did something interesting on Tuesday. The offensive tackle, who played tight end in college, took a few reps at tight end in limited offensive drills. That's intriguing because if he could play the role of an extra tackle during the season, he'd have something Matt Tobin doesn't: the ability to actually become a receiver, not just an eligible one. 

8. Robinson, who is getting run at corner with the first team, won a jump ball with Dorial Green-Beckham on a deep ball. It was an impressive play by Robinson, but DGB mistimed his jump. 

The best defensive play of the day came from Najee Goode in 7-on-7s. The veteran backup linebacker and special teamer dropped back and dove backward to break up a pass off the hand of Nick Foles. 

9. Obviously, there's no hitting yet, but Derek Barnett had a good first day going against the vets. Sure, Lane Johnson completely shut him down on one play, but Barnett showed off a variety of moves. 

10. The Eagles' two rookie receivers worked with the third team on Tuesday, while DGB and Nelson Agholor worked with the twos. Shelton Gibson showed off his quickness and Mack Hollins' size and speed combo wasn't any less impressive. Also, Hollins wasn't wearing gloves, but it didn't seem to affect his ability to catch. 

Stupid observation of the day: Thanks to his afro and thick beard, Seumalo kind of looks like a lion with a mane.