Philly Sports Saturday Act II: Sounders v. Union at PPL Park

Philly Sports Saturday Act II: Sounders v. Union at PPL Park

The second course of your Saturday Philadelphia sports smorgasbord takes place in Chester where the Union host Seattle (4PM/The Comcast Network). The Union (3-1), who have played four consecutive 1-0 games, look to put together their second winning streak of the young season. They sit atop the Eastern Conference table with nine points, three points clear of Toronto and New England.

Seattle (1-2-2) enters the game in a three way tie for fourth in the West. They picked up their first win of the season last week thanks to a 2-1 win over Chicago. The Sounders have scored four goals over their last two games, which is all the more impressive considering they've been playing without Fredy Montero, who's been out with a broken wrist.

Montero made the trip to Philly, but is listed as questionable. O’Brian White has helped pick up the scoring slack, recording two goals and an assist over the last two matches. Steve Zakuani has also contributed in Montero's absence, picking up a goal and an assist over the same period.

One amazing number to keep in mind about this one is 80. 80 is the combined age of starting goalkeepers Kasey Keller (41) and Faryd Mondragon (39). To put that into perspective consider that the combined age of Union players Jack McInerney (18), Roger Torres (19), Danny Mwanga (19), Amobi Okuguo (20) is just 76. Yeah, Keller and Mondragon have been around.

Speaking of Okugo, he'll likely start in the place of Brian Carrol, who, due to a hamstring injury, was forced to leave last week's win over the Red Bulls after just six minutes. Justin Mapp, who made his way back into the Union lineup last week, apparently emerged unscathed and should be fit to start.

I know Peter Nowak has no qualms about winning games 1-0, but they need to find a way to get their offense going. Once again it took introducing Roger Torres into the lineup to shake things up. Last week it was only a matter of seconds before Torres made an impact. Mwanga picked off a terrible pass from Red Bull centerback Tim Ream and sent Torres through for the decisive goal.

The contributions off the substitutes bench have been great, but Carlos Ruiz and Sebastien Le Toux need provide a threat. In their defense they've had zero support from the midfield. I cannot remember a single serve into the box from a Union midfielder. The midfield absolutely needs to do a better job of providing a link between the back four and Ruiz/Le Toux.

If only there was a creative string-pulling midfielder out there who could help jump-start the Union offense. I mean, at this stage of the season there can't be anyone who would fit that bill, right? Wait, what's that? Benny Feilhaber is now available? And the Union sits in the second allocation position? Kerith Gabriel reports that the Union have no interest in Feilhaber.

Please tell me that's just Nowak keeping things close to the vest. Benny is a perfect fit for tihs team.

Benny! Feilhaber!

Please go get him.

Seriously, go get him.

That potential acquisition will have to wait until Tuesday. For today your likely starting X1 will be Mondragon, Jordan Harvey, Danny Califf, Carlos Valdes, Sheanon Williams, Mapp, Okugo, Stefani Miglioranzi (who was a turnover machine last week), Keon Daniel, Le Toux, and Ruiz.

Final Score Prediction: Union make it three wins in a row with yet another 1-0 result.

The Toni Stahl Memorial Union Player Most Likely To See Red: Miglioranzi, who will be matched up with Osvaldo Alonso all day. I am a big Alonso fan, and think he'll provide a serious problem for Miglioranzi.

Bonus Reminder to Set Your DVR for El Clasico Note: Barcelona and Madrid play this afternoon in what will be their first of four games against each other over the next 18 days. They play at 4PM, so fire up your DVR.

Bonus Music Track: They're hosting Seattle. It's a bit of an obvious choice, but I couldn't pass up the opportunity to include Pearl Jam covering Mother Love Bone.

 

Photo Credit: Barbara Johnston/AP

NBA Playoffs: Warriors sweep their way to 3rd straight NBA Finals

NBA Playoffs: Warriors sweep their way to 3rd straight NBA Finals

BOX SCORE

SAN ANTONIO -- Stephen Curry scored 36 points as the Golden State Warriors closed out the Western Conference Final against the injury-ravaged San Antonio Spurs with a 129-115 victory Monday night, becoming the first team in league history to start the playoffs 12-0.

Golden State led by as many as 22 points in cruising to its third straight NBA Finals. The Warriors await a possible third straight championship matchup with Cleveland, which leads Boston 2-1 in the East finals.

"It's great to be one of the last two teams standing, we'll see how it goes," said Kevin Durant, who had 29 points and 12 rebounds.

San Antonio's only lead came on the opening possession when Manu Ginobili tossed in a left-handed scoop shot. The Spurs started Ginobili in what could be his final game with the team. The 39-year-old had maintained he will not ponder whether to retire or return until after the season.

Unsure if the beloved veteran will return, the crowd serenaded Ginobili with "Manu, Manu" chants as the game came to a close.

"An amazing competitor, even more fun playing against him," Durant said of Ginobili. "He was phenomenal this series."

Kyle Anderson scored 20 points to lead the Spurs, who were without Kawhi Leonard, Tony Parker and David Lee. San Antonio didn't go down without a fight despite the injuries.

Anderson dove on the court for a loose ball that the Spurs had tipped away defensively, pushing the ball upcourt to Patty Mills who fed Ginobili for a 3-pointer that pulled San Antonio to 108-94 with 7 minutes remaining.

The effort made Spurs coach Gregg Popovich smile and clap at times, but the Warriors' depth and talent proved too much for short-handed San Antonio.

Golden State shot 56 percent and were 14 for 39 on 3-pointers.

Draymond Green had 16 points, eight rebounds and eight assists for the Warriors.

Spurs forward LaMarcus Aldridge closed out a disappointing series with his second eight-point effort against the Warriors.

Ginobili finished with 15 points in 32 minutes.

Phillies held to 3 hits again, pounded by Rockies in return home

Phillies held to 3 hits again, pounded by Rockies in return home

BOX SCORE

The loudest noise made by the Phillies' offense on Monday night was the thud — clearly audible above the small crowd — that Odubel Herrera created when he smashed his batting helmet on the dirt infield after grounding out to third base to end the seventh inning.

Herrera's frustration spoke for an entire team. The Phillies were hammered, 8-1, by the Colorado Rockies (see Instant Replay). They were out-hit, 13-3. The loss was the Phils' 18th in the last 22 games and they have been outscored 126-89 over that span.

The loss left the Phils at 15-27 for the season, matching their worst 42-game start since 2000 when they finished 65-97 in front of tiny crowds at Veterans Stadium in Terry Francona's last season as skipper.

Over the last two games, both losses, the Phils have just six hits.

"Three hits today, three hits yesterday," manager Pete Mackanin said. "You're not going to win a lot of games getting three hits."

Aaron Altherr had two of the Phillies' hits, both doubles against Colorado rookie Jeff Hoffman, who was very impressive with seven walk-free innings and seven strikeouts.

Herrera went hitless in three at-bats and is hitting just .200 in the month of May and .232 overall — not what the front office expected when it signed him to a five-year, $30.5 million contract extension in the offseason.

"It's very frustrating because I feel like I am being selective and waiting for my pitch, but when I make contact things don't happen," Herrera said. "I feel like I'm swinging the bat well, but I'm just missing."

Phillies starter Jerad Eickhoff gave up nine hits, seven of which were singles, and four runs over six innings. Four of the hits that Eickhoff allowed came in the third inning when the Rockies scored three times. Two of the runs scored on a flare double and the other on a groundball through a drawn-in infield.

"I executed a lot of good pitches," Eickhoff said. "I got a lot of the contact I wanted. The ball just didn't land in the gloves."

Eickhoff did not walk a batter. He struck out four.

Despite being 0-5 with a 4.70 ERA in nine starts, the right-hander believes he has made strides his last two outings. He gave up three runs (two earned) over six innings in his previous outing at Texas. Prior to that start, he worked on fixing a mechanical flaw in his delivery.

"These past two have been night-and-day different," he said. "I felt great today and in Texas and I'm going to keep that positivity going."

Finding other things to be positive about with this team is becoming difficult.

This Phillies team was not expected to contend; it is still in a rebuild. But things weren't supposed to be this bad, either.

"I'll tell you what, I'm getting frustrated, too," general manager Matt Klentak said before the game. "This team is better … there is more talent on this team than we've shown in terms of our record.

"We'll pull out of it. We will. That's what talented players will do. I'm not going to tell the fans they shouldn't be frustrated. We've gone through a tough stretch.

"But I'm not ready to call it regression. I think there's been a lack of consistency on our team in general, with some players more than others. There's been a lack of consistency, but especially for young players, two months is a relatively small sample size to categorize it as regression."

At 29-17, the Rockies have the best record in the National League. They have 16 road wins, which is one more than the Phillies have overall. The Rockies are in town for three more days. This ugly start could get even uglier.