Much Adu About Something - Union host F.C. Dallas

Much Adu About Something - Union host F.C. Dallas

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Not sure if you’ve heard, but the Union signed Freddy Adu this week. Seriously. As I write this all four main stories on the Union website contain photos of Adu. Oh, and there’s also a handy link right there on the main page in the event you want to purchase a #11 Adu jersey. Freddy, Freddy, Freddy(!) is the new Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!

Now, whether Adu actually sees the field tonight against F.C. Dallas (8PM/ABC) remains to be seen. He is eligible to play, and apparently will be included in the game-day 18. But, and this is a big but, Adu has not played in a competitive game since the Gold Cup Final back on June 25th.

If I had to guess I’d say that Adu makes his first appearance in or around the 60th minute. Whether he plays or not the Union need to find a way to get out of this game with the three points. The U still sit in second place in the Eastern Conference, but have struggled over the last two or three games.

Their play has been lifeless. Perhaps the sudden departure of leading scorer Carlos Ruiz took the rest of the players by surprise. Maybe the uncertainty surrounding the transfer window has taken mental toll on the team. Whatever the reason, the Union need to snap out of it and get back winning games at home.
 
They’ll have their hands full tonight as F.C. Dallas, the second place team in the West, visit PPL Park. Dallas, coming off of a 3-1 loss to L.A., boasts perhaps the best young player in MLS. Brek Shea, who on Wednesday set up the game tying goal at the Linc against Mexico, is tearing up the league. He’s scored nine goals, which leads his team and ties him for fourth in all of MLS.

Shea is a 6’3” left-footed monster. He brings pace, a deft passing touch, and an ability to finish. He authored one of the best goals of the MLS season with this cracker against Toronto.

One player the Union will not have to worry about is Fabian Castillo, who tormented them in their matchup earlier this season. Castillo, who is away representing Colombia at the U20 World Cup, set up Shea’s goal and scored one of his own as Dallas beat the Union 2-0 back in May. No doubt Union players, and fellow Colombians, Faryd Mondragon, Carlos Valdes, and Roger Torres are relieved that Castillo is on international duty.

So what can Union coach Peter Nowak do to jumpstart his suddenly lethargic side? Well, if nothing else the Adu signing should inject some life and excitement into the side. Tactically, the Adu signing is perfect. He brings a desperately needed creative presence to the team. He can sit above Brian Carroll and spray balls all over the field. He can also step outside to the flanks and provide service to the forwards. Oh, and he can score, which as we all know is a major area of need for the Union.

Speaking of goal scoring, can we all agree that Nowak should just reunite Sebastien Le Toux and Danny Mwanga in the starting lineup? I think Mwanga will thrive with Adu on the field. Ruiz was a dangerous finisher, but he was not going to win a race to a ball played into space. Adu has the ability to pick out Mwanga and play balls ahead of him and into space. Mwanga has the speed and strength to get to and win those balls. Look for them to develop a quick chemistry. Similarly, Le Toux should have a field day running onto balls played into dangerous areas.
 
Defensively, should the Union grab the lead they’ll need to do a better job of killing off the game. Giving up a goal late in the game, as they did last week at home against Houston is unacceptable. Here’s hoping their training sessions this week stressed end of game situations.

Here's the lineup I hope we see tonight: Mondragon, Williams, Valdes, Califf, G. Farfan, Mapp, Carroll, Torres (as mentioned I would bring Adu in off the bench, likely in this spot), Daniel, Le Toux, and Mwanga.

Final Score Prediction:  With Adu in the fold there’s going to be an electric atmosphere at PPL Park tonight. I think it helps lift the home side to a much needed 2-1 win.

The Toni Stahl Memorial Union Player Most Likely to See Red: I’ll say Daniel gets sent off as he’ll have his hands full with Shea all night. 

Best of NHL: Blue Jackets crush Islanders, 7-0

Best of NHL: Blue Jackets crush Islanders, 7-0

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Unlike some other NHL teams coming off their bye week, there wasn't a spot of rust on the sleek Columbus Blue Jackets.

In their first game following a five-day break, the high-energy Blue Jackets blew out the New York Islanders 7-0 Saturday as backup goalie Joonas Korpisalo earned his first career shutout.

Josh Anderson and Nick Foligno each scored twice, and David Savard had a goal and three assists. Boone Jenner and Jack Johnson also scored to help the Blue Jackets end New York's three-game winning streak (see full recap).

Zibanejad scores in OT to help Rangers beat Devils again
NEWARK, N.J. -- The New York Rangers are finding ways to win, and the New Jersey Devils just aren't.

Moments after goaltender Antti Raanta stopped Kyle Palmieri on a breakaway, Mika Zibanejad scored 1:16 into overtime and the Rangers rallied to beat the Devils 4-3 on Saturday.

"I had to redeem myself after that letdown on the breakaway the other way," said Zibanejad, whose mistake gave Palmieri a chance to complete a hat trick. "Rants came up big and it's nice to see that puck cross the goal line once again and win the game."

The goal was Zibanejad's first in 16 games and it gave the Rangers their ninth win in 11 games (9-1-1). Struggling New Jersey got its fourth loss in five games (1-3-1) (see full recap).

Shaw's OT goal gives Canadiens 14th straight win over the Leafs
TORONTO -- Andrew Shaw scored 1:06 into overtime and the Montreal Canadiens beat Toronto 3-2 on Saturday night for their 14th consecutive victory over the Maple Leafs.

Max Pacioretty and Alex Galchenyuk had the other goals for the Canadiens, who increased their Atlantic Division lead to four points over Ottawa and five on Toronto. They are 3-7-1 in the last 11 games and 2-2-0 under new coach Claude Julien.

Carey Price stopped 32 shots for Montreal, including a breakaway by Auston Matthews in overtime. The 19-year-old Matthews scored twice to reach 30 goals in his rookie season, and Frederik Andersen was sharp with 25 saves for Toronto (see full recap).

Best of NBA: Noel scores 9 points, grab 10 boards in Mavs debut

Best of NBA: Noel scores 9 points, grab 10 boards in Mavs debut

DALLAS -- Harrison Barnes scored 19 points and Dirk Nowitzki had 18 points and nine rebounds as the Dallas Mavericks ended a three-game losing streak by beating the New Orleans Pelicans 96-83 on Saturday night.

The Pelicans fell to 0-2 since trading for DeMarcus Cousins and pairing him with Anthony Davis.

Davis had 39 points and 14 rebounds but scored only 12 in the second half. Cousins finished with 12 points and 15 rebounds.

Seth Curry scored 10 of his 13 in the fourth quarter to help Dallas pull away. His 3-pointer with 4:49 to play gave the Mavericks an 84-72 lead, and the Pelicans never got closer than six after that (see full recap).

Harden leads Rockets past Timberwolves in 142-130 shootout
HOUSTON -- James Harden had 24 points and 10 assists to lead the Houston Rockets to a 142-130 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves as both teams set season scoring highs in a Saturday night shootout.

Houston won for the sixth time in seven games, handing the Timberwolves their first road loss in more than three weeks.

Minnesota committed a season-high 25 turnovers that led to 38 points for the Rockets.

Playing against Houston's guard-heavy rotation, Minnesota went inside all night and outscored the Rockets 68-44 in the paint. Karl-Anthony Towns had 37 points and 22 rebounds, and Andrew Wiggins added 30 points (see full recap).

Bulls benefit as James sits with strep, beat Cavs 117-99
CLEVELAND -- Dwyane Wade scored 20 points and Jimmy Butler recorded a triple-double, leading the Chicago Bulls to a 117-99 victory Saturday night over the Cleveland Cavaliers, who played without LeBron James.

James missed the game with strep throat, and coach Tyronn Lue said he wasn't sure how long the Cavaliers would be without the four-time MVP. Cleveland struggled as it often does without its star - they are 4-19 without him since he returned to Cleveland in 2014, including 0-4 this season.

Chicago has won all three games against Cleveland this season. It took advantage of James' absence to win its fourth straight overall (see full recap).

George ejected, Heat stay hot with 113-95 win over Pacers
MIAMI -- Paul George had another frustrating night in Miami.

Hassan Whiteside scored 22 points and grabbed 17 rebounds, Dion Waiters added 22 points and the red-hot Miami Heat pulled away late to beat the Indiana Pacers 113-95 on Saturday night. Miami outscored Indiana 42-22 in the final 16 minutes, all with George watching from the Pacers' locker room after an ejection.

"It felt like a playoff-type game," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said (see full recap).