Phils Host Sox, Union in Dallas to Battle the Waldos

Phils Host Sox, Union in Dallas to Battle the Waldos

We're taking it easy this evening, enjoying the weather and a few cold ones, so I gotta keep this brief. Whether you were working in the yard or drinking at the Italian Market Festival (or something in between), there's a great sports reward on the way this evening.
The Phils aim to take their seventh straight after a big win to open the series with the Red Sox that featured a Jonathan Papelbon save to preserve a Cole Hamels win. Chooch is a herostuddragonridingMVPstar. Tonight, Joe Blanton draws Jon Lester. Lester brushed off two straight losses to throw a complete game, 6-1 win against Seattle last time out. Game time is around 7:15 on Fox. More on the matchup here.  
Meanwhile, the Freddy-Adu-less Union will try to get a result down in Dallas, starting at 8:30PM on the Comcast Network. The Waldos will be short a few key players as well. 
(more on the U vs Dallas, some pics from an Dallas training session, and video of something that'll get ya suspended, below)
Hopefully it doesn't look like this in Dallas tonight, though the home side will be dressed not unlike our hero here, save for red shorts rather than jeans. Kinda like if Chivas USA's stripes were horizontal...
Freddy Adu played the best soccer of his time with the Union on Sunday. Unfortunately, he didn't have a chance to finish the game, as a crappy diving call landed him is second yellow card of the game. The U were unable to hold on for three points, and tonight, they'll have to try without Adu pulling the strings.
Obviously, they'll also be without Danny Califf. I've had trouble processing the move that sent him to Chivas this past week, and more reconciling the feelings it leaves in its wake. For the purposes of tonight's thread, we'll stick to how it affects the team on the pitch. 
As he did on Sunday, Sheanon Williams will play Califf's former center back slot alongside Carlos Valdes. Rookie Raymon Gaddis has been impressive, and I don't worry about him starting at the right back position. When he's made mistakes with the line high, his speed has nullified most of them, as he gets back very quickly. Gabe Farfan has been capable on the left side as well, which is far more than we can say for Porfirio Lopez, but a knee injury could keep Garfan out of the action tonight. 
The Union hope a speedier back line will cause more fits on the opposing side than it allows for in front of their own goal. I hope that's the case. While they're spinning the move in favor of speed, they did lose some height, as Califf stood out among his former teammates despite himself not being much more than 6 feet tall. Williams is listed as 5'11, but I doubt that... Of course, Danny's height didn't exactly protect the Union against opposing set pieces during his time here. 
A particular bright spot over the past week has been the play of Lionard Pajoy. Struggling to find the back of the net for most of the season to date, Pajoy scored in the friendly against German side Schalke, then tallied twice in the Union's 3-2 loss to New York. Paired with Danny Mwanga in an arrangement that saw two strikers forward. Both had plenty of great opportunities, though couldn't convert on most. Hopefully another game in the set will see even more success. 
Without Adu, and also the excellent play of Zac MacMath, who is expected to miss the match with concussion symptoms despite playing this past Sunday after sustaining the injury in a prior match (5/8 vs Sounders). Taylor Twellman said on Twitter that MacMath took a hit in training this week, forcing him out of the action tonight. 
Update: Mike Farfan will play his brother Gabe's fullback position, and Michael Lahoud will start in his first opportunity with the team since coming over as the human component of the Danny Califf haul, per Kevin Kinkead
Dallas (3-6-3) is a team that has also had trouble scoring to date, with 11 goals in 12 games and have a -7 goal differential (the Union have 7 goals in 9 games). They'll be without attacker Brek Shea, who is suspended for three games after kicking a ball at a referee's assistant whose call he disagreed with in Dallas' 2-1 loss to Columbus last Saturday. It was as funny as it sounds... 

Flyers' power play rediscovers swagger in win over Canucks

Flyers' power play rediscovers swagger in win over Canucks

BOX SCORE

VANCOUVER, British Columbia – The Flyers got some swagger back Sunday night.

But especially so on the power play, which entered Sunday's clash just 2 for 19 over the last six games.

Two markers on the man advantage helped the Flyers edge the Canucks, 3-2, at Rogers Arena in Vanvoucer (see Instant Replay).

“It all comes back to finding a way to produce – and they did that tonight,” said Flyers coach Dave Hakstol, who had called for his power-play participants to rediscover that swagger.

Hakstol’s club won for the first time in its last nine games in Western Canada. More importantly, the Flyers (28-24-7) moved within a point of the eighth and final playoff spot, currently shared by Florida and Boston, in the Eastern Conference.

Thanks to the power-play success, the Flyers built a 3-0 lead in the game’s first 23 minutes and then hung on, atoning for a sub-par effort in a one-sided loss to the Oilers in Edmonton on Thursday night.

The Flyers converted two of three power plays while blanking the Canucks on all four of their man advantages. The loss prevented the Canucks (26-28-6) from getting closer to a Western Conference playoff berth.

“I thought we were playing some pretty good hockey of late, but the pucks weren't going in,” said Flyers center Brayden Schenn, who scored the winning goal on the power play at 2:38 of the second period. “Tonight, we tightened up defensively again from Edmonton's game and were able to score a few more goals. It's a huge two points going home."

Wayne Simmonds, also on the power play, and Jakub Voracek scored the Flyers’ other goals.

“We needed a win,” Simmonds said. “Especially after the game in Edmonton, this is good for the morale."

Shayne Gostisbehere assisted on all three goals, recording the first three-point night of his career.

Schenn’s winning goal came only a minute and 27 seconds after Voracek gave the Flyers a 2-0 lead at 1:11 of the second by sending Sean Couturier’s huge rebound into a gaping net behind Canucks goaltender Ryan Miller. Voracek’s goal was his first in 10 games. He had not scored since Jan. 25 against the New York Rangers.

How did long sought-after goal make him feel?

"Like I scored a goal,” deadpanned Voracek. “We won the game. That’s the way I looked at it. It doesn't matter who scored the goals. Special teams were huge tonight. I liked our power play. We were going all 60 minutes. This one kept us in the race."

The Flyers were a well-rested team thanks to a two-day break between games and a three-day break before the start of the road trip. The Canucks, on the other hand, were playing their second of back-to-back home games with only a day’s rest following a grueling six-game United States road trip. But there was still considerable suspense over the final 30 minutes.

Markus Granlund and Jannik Hansen tallied for the Canucks, who are known as comeback artists, at 3:43 and 12:42 of the second, respectively, before the Flyers shut Vancouver down the rest of the way. Voracek indicated the Flyers were not nervous in the final frame.

"I don't think we changed anything to be honest,” he said. We were pretty tight in the neutral zone. We didn't give them much. When we had a couple of breakdowns, [Michal Neuvirth] was on his act.”

Neuvirth stopped 18 of 20 shots as the Flyers outshot the Canucks, 28-20. He enjoyed a much better start Sunday, holding the Canucks scoreless in the opening period after allowing four goals on his first 12 shots on Thursday in Edmonton. One of his better saves came with just over a minute into the game as he got his toe on Markus Granlund’s dangerous chance from in close.

"I felt good,” said Neuvirth. “I have been practicing well and playing with confidence. The last game, it didn't work out. I put that one behind me and restarted my mind and got back to work tonight.”

“I thought he was excellent,” said Hakstol. “He was calm and settled in there. You can go back through that 60 minutes and you can pick out three or four pretty darned good saves.”

Neuvirth excelled while making his fourth consecutive start and sixth in the past seven games overall.

“It feels good,” he said of the heavy workload. “It feels better when we win.”

But he was not about to get too excited. The Flyers have a tough clash at home Wednesday against NHL-best Washington and a road game Saturday at Pittsburgh's Heinz Field against the rival Penguins as part of the NHL’s Stadium Series.

“We have a tough schedule coming and we have to be ready,” Neuvirth said.

Sixers Twitter rejoices in the Kings' pick swap after DeMarcus Cousins deal

Sixers Twitter rejoices in the Kings' pick swap after DeMarcus Cousins deal

All hail the pick swap.

When word got out that the Sacramento Kings traded DeMarcus Cousins to the New Orleans Pelicans, Sixers fans on Twitter rejoiced.

On July 10, 2015, the Sixers traded away the rights to Artūras Gudaitis and Luka Mitrović, and, in return, received an unprotected 2019 first round pick, Nik Stauskas, Carl Landry, Jason Thompson and the right to swap first-round selections in the 2016 and 2017 drafts.

The Cousins move appears to significantly weaken the Kings, who are 24-33 and just 2.5 games better than the Sixers, so the pick swap looks healthier than ever.

But, for now, enjoy some samplings of Sixers Twitter from after the trade.

Here are some of the best tweets.