MATCHDAY: Union Head North to Montreal; Robbie Rogers' Milestone Day in MLS

MATCHDAY: Union Head North to Montreal; Robbie Rogers' Milestone Day in MLS

While you trade in your usual Memorial Day Weekend swim trunks and beer for a hoodie and hot chocolate (seriously, WTH?), you might want to ignore the Phillies for one night (because you know you'll just be annoyed anyway).

The Union travel to Montreal (7 p.m., The Comcast Network) to face a team just ahead of them in the Eastern Conference. A win could vault Philadelphia to as high as second in the East (at least temporarily).

Predictions and the bare minimum of analysis to come below, but first a quick word on a milestone day coming to MLS very soon (maybe Sunday night).

In case you didn't hear, the LA Galaxy acquired the rights to Robbie Rogers from the Chicago Fire on Friday. Rogers, a 26-year-old midfielder, is returning to MLS after playing most recently with Leeds United in England's second division.

Oh, and he's openly gay.

Rogers will be the first openly gay athlete to compete in a major U.S. team sport, and with basketball player Jason Collins not on a roster for next season just yet, he might be the only one for a little while.

Not to get too political, but I hope there's a day soon when this isn't a story. But right now, it is. And to have the league I love take center stage for a moment like this is really great to see. Many European soccer fanbases are not exactly known for their tolerance, and there are even recent (isolated) stories of similar things happening here. So to have soccer be the sport that breaks the mold on this is great. For it to be MLS is even greater.

Robbie Rogers is a great player, and he's only 26. He wanted to play in Los Angeles, and Chicago received a great player -- Mike Magee -- in return. It's a win-win for both sides, and a major win for the league.

It's not exactly a Jackie Robinson moment, but it's not far off. Good for you MLS. Good for you Galaxy. And especially, good for you Robbie Rogers.

* * *

Today's Game:

Montreal Impact (6-2-2, 20 points) vs. Philadelphia Union (5-4-3, 18 points)

7 p.m. -- Stade Saputo -- The Comcast Network

Prediction Sure to Be Way Off:

Jack McInerney will find the net again, and the Union will show themselves well against another surprising team early in the MLS season. But Montreal will find a way to get three points in the end.

Impact 2, Union 1

Sir Charles and Shaq made things personal last night and it was fantastic

Sir Charles and Shaq made things personal last night and it was fantastic

Shaq always has the trump card -- and by that we mean championship rings -- to throw in Charles Barkley's face. But with that said, Sir Charles is probably a much better trash talker and therefore has a superior mouth to defend himself with and throw barbs back in Shaq's direction.

The mouthy duo got into it a bit last night and it teetered between fun and lighthearted and a little personal.

Shaq attacks Chuck for only playing in one NBA Finals and therefore not really knowing what he was talking about. Charles claps back at Shaq for having ridden Kobe and Dwyane Wade's coattails. 

During an NBA playoffs that has been mostly boring, at least these two can still entertain us.

Fletcher Cox should be at Eagles OTAs, but absence likely meaningless

Fletcher Cox should be at Eagles OTAs, but absence likely meaningless

Fletcher Cox wasn’t at practice with the rest of his Eagles teammates on Tuesday -- well, 86 of them -- and that’s okay. It’s May, and participation in offseason training activities is strictly voluntary. Furthermore, if Cox wants to take a vacation, he is entitled to do so under the collective bargaining agreement.

Cox really should be at OTAs. The Eagles gave him a contract potentially worth over $100 million just last year, and with that comes an obligation. Cox arguably did not live up to that contract last season, too, so he could use the practice. And if he needed a vacation, why didn’t he take one during the three months he was off from work?

As far as I’m concerned, both takes are true. Cox is free to do as he wishes, and people with careers in sports should understand better than anybody the strain it places on families, so I can’t blame most of these guys for taking a little extra time. Then again, this drama with Cox seems like it was completely avoidable, and looks especially bad in light of his contract and disappointing season, so I can’t blame people for being angry, either.

Yet, Cox’s absence almost certainly will have no bearing on the outcome of any games this season. It’s not a sign of disrespect for Eagles coach Doug Pederson or that he’s losing the locker room. It’s not going to send a message to teammates that participation is not expected or important.

Cox missing OTAs on Tuesday was of no consequence to the Eagles at all. By training camp, it will be a forgotten footnote in the story of the 2017 season, only to be mentioned in future Mays whenever somebody else exercises the option to skip a voluntary practice.

Even then, there is clearly a double standard, because the reaction isn’t the same for everybody. When Brandon Graham missed last week while he was believed to be “holding out” for a new contract -- can’t hold out when it’s voluntary -- there were equal parts rage and support for the cause. Jason Peters and Donnie Jones are out this week, too, and while some displeasure has been voiced, those absences were largely met with apathy.

Marcus Smith was missing on Tuesday as well, and it’s not immediately clear why. Pederson made no mention of the former first-round draft pick, and practice was almost over before reporters bothered to notice. In theory, this is a huge mistake, because Smith is fighting for a roster spot. We also don’t know where he is -- perhaps there’s a reasonable explanation -- so it’s unreasonable to jump to conclusions or become outraged.

This is the part where once again we remind everybody that it’s May and these practices are non-contact. And while Cox going away for a week will still be indefensible to some, it never hurts to put yourself in another person’s shoes. Maybe, for whatever reason, he was literally unable to make the trip at a time that would not interfere with Eagles business. Maybe he was simply getting grief at home because he's away so much.

That undoubtedly will be impossible for some people to accept. And, hey, maybe Cox just doesn’t care. Regardless, the practices are voluntary, Cox is expected back next week, and absolutely nobody is going to be talking about this eight months from now, eight weeks from now, or even eight days from now.