MLS players coming and going while Union sit by and watch

MLS players coming and going while Union sit by and watch

"I'll take TWO (new left backs)," says Union manager John Hackworth.

So, this is the first Philadelphia Union post in a while. Have I decided to stop writing about the Union for The Level? No. Am I too busy dealing with a 2-year-old and a pregnant wife to write about the Union? Well ... yes .. but, no.

All has been quiet on the Union front because absolutely, positively nothing is happening down at PPL Park.

While the rest of the league shuffles the deck -- including archrival D.C. United trading for U.S. National Team player Eddie Johnson (a likely lock for next summer's World Cup roster) on Tuesday -- the Union are sitting idly by. A few players are on their way out, like Kleberson and Rogger Torres, and just one player -- midfielder Corben Bone, who was acquired from the Chicago Fire in the re-entry draft -- is on his way in so far (there are a few interesting names in Wednesday's second stage of the re-entry draft -- maybe former Red Bull defender Heath Pearce? -- but it's not really the place to make waves).

(Homegrown midfielder and Dresher native Zach Pfeffer may also be a new face for many Union fans, but he's been under contract with the Union since 2010. He has just returned from a long loan in Germany, and could be a player to watch if he earns a roster spot this season.)

So, John Hackworth, Why so quiet? Hackworth said just a few months ago that change was needed, and given the team's late-season collapse, it definitely is.

One reason for the Union to wait could be next month's MLS SuperDraft (Jan. 16 at the Pa. Convention Center). The Union have the second pick and sixth pick in the first round, two picks in the second round, three picks in the third round and one in the fourth.

With all those picks, I've been trying to withhold judgment on the Union offseason until after the draft. There's no way the Union will use all eight picks on players they plan to keep. And I know there are probably discussions already underway involving those picks that won't be finalized until draft day.

All those picks are great, but the Union fanbase is not looking for more players who have tons of potential but are years away from contributing. It's put up or shut up time for the Union in 2014. It's time to be a contender. And there are players out there -- from potential European designated players to experienced MLS veterans -- who would immediately make this team better.

Every day the Union sit on the sidelines, another one of those players finds a new home. I'm not saying Eddie Johnson was the answer for the Union (he is not), but the fans in Philly are tired of watching the big names go elsewhere while asking, "Who is Corben Bone? (A: a once-promising midfielder who played just 18 games since 2010.

So, the Union have draft picks to deal, holes to fill and PLENTY of Allocation Money to spend (I won't even try to explain allocation money -- Major League's Soccer's mysterious currency -- since I understand it only slightly better than Bitcoins). They need a playmaking midfielder, an upgrade at left back, some depth on defense and many, many other pieces.

If nothing else, a juicy player rumor or two would be nice.

The Phillies season in one video: 'Phanatic tries to comfort crying baby'

The Phillies season in one video: 'Phanatic tries to comfort crying baby'

What is there to say about the Philadelphia Phillies?

In doing my usual postgame perusal of the Internet after their 7-2 loss on Wednesday night, I visited Phillies.com to see what kind of "highlights" they could have possibly posted from another crushing defeat at the hands of the Colorado Rockies.

Thankfully, the first thing that caught my eye was a video titled, "Phanatic tries to comfort crying baby."

It was not Larry Andersen in the Phanatic's arms. Nor me.

And that's the Phillies season in a nutshell.

"You gotta question the parenting skills here," John Kruk said on the telecast. And he's right! What kind of parent would raise their kid to be a Philly sports fan?!?

The Phillies now have the worst record in all of baseball. They're 4-20 in their last 24 games. It's their worst start to a season since 1960.

Even the Phanatic doesn't have enough popcorn to mask all the pain.

If you want to read about the upbeat approach Pete Mackanin is taking, go give this a gander.

"In a long season, these things sometimes happen," Mackanin told reporters. "I remember Atlanta, the first half last year, was terrible. They had a real good second half. I believe we just need to get something going. We're going to put something together. I believe that."

That makes one of us.

Highly ranked 2018 recruit Brandon Slater verbally commits to Villanova

Highly ranked 2018 recruit Brandon Slater verbally commits to Villanova

The future of Villanova basketball just got brighter.

Brandon Slater, a 6-foot-6 wing and highly touted 2018 recruit, told Scout.com on Wednesday night that he has verbally committed to the Wildcats.

He later made the announcement on Twitter.

Among the 2018 recruiting class, Slater, a product of Paul VI Catholic High School in Fairfax, Virginia, is ranked in the top 30 by Scout.com and top 50 by ESPN.com. He's slated as a four-star talent by both media outlets.

Per ESPN, Slater had offers from Louisville, Maryland, Miami, Syracuse, USC and Virginia Tech. He is Villanova's first commitment for 2018.

"Going up there it just feels like a second home," Slater said, via Evan Daniels of Scout.com. "It gives me a good vibe. It's nothing like all the other schools. I just feel like a Villanova guy. It feels like PVI. It's already home."

Slater and Villanova head coach Jay Wright expressed their excitement on Twitter.