Soccer Night in Chester as Union Open PPL Park

Soccer Night in Chester as Union Open PPL Park

The Union welcome the Seattle Sounders this evening (5PM/ESPN2) for the first ever game at brand spanking new PPL Park. After playing their first two home dates at the Linc the Union finally move into their new home along the Chester waterfront. All the momentum the Union have built over the opening few months of the season culminates this evening as the Union take on a Sounders team which has fallen on tough times since topping our local XI 2-0 in the Union's first ever game back in March,

Last we saw the Union play a league match prior to the World Cup break they dropped an ugly one 2-0 at Kansas City. Since then they played a friendly against affiliate club Reading United AC, which the Union won 2-0. Hopefully head coach Peter Nowak has spent the break hammering home the importance of keeping eleven men on the field and avoiding the types of defensive breakdowns which have undercut otherwise solid performances thus far.

Nowak has been mixing and matching his lineups over the last few matches. Early season revelation Roger Torres has seen his minutes go down significantly as Nowak has introduced Shea Salinas and Kyle Nakazawa into the midfield. Also, the emergence number one overall pick Danny Mwanga has relegated youngster Jack McInerney to the bench.

Much like how the success of the USMNT hinged on the performance of three or four key contributors (Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey, Michael Bradley, and Tim Howard), the Union rely on the creativity and production of Sebastien Le Toux, Alejandro Moreno, and Fred. When those three are clicking the Union play well.

The Union are going to need to keep tight tabs on the speedy Steve Zakuani, who gave the Union back four fits the last time these two teams played. Freddy Montero also wreaked havoc against the Union in March. The task of containing these two will be made all the more difficult as Michael Orozco will miss the game due to suspension for the red card he picked up against Kansas City. In Freddie Ljundberg and Kasey Keller the Sounders also feature two players with vast international experience.

This match presents a great opportunity for the Union to gauge just how much progress they've made since that opening night loss in Seattle. After notching a win and a tie in their two games at the Linc the Union hope to keep their home record unblemished. Regardless, it's a historic night for soccer in the Delaware Valley.

Union Player Most Likely to See Red: Cristian Arrieta, who will have to deal with Zakuani all night.

Final Score Prediction: The Union win it 2-1 as they feed off the energy of the fans in the first ever game at PPL Park

Photo: Getty Images

Steve Mason rediscovers himself in New York just before Flyers return

Steve Mason rediscovers himself in New York just before Flyers return

It had been a while since Steve Mason saw himself.

Walking into the Barclays Center on Sunday, the Flyers’ goalie was 0-6-2 with a 4.03 goals-against average and .844 save percentage over his last 10 appearances (see more recent Flyers numbers and stats).

A far cry of how Mason truly sees himself in net.

But heading into Wednesday’s rivalry clash with the Rangers, Mason will have something to build on, something he couldn’t say since Dec. 21 - the last previous time he had earned a victory. He’s fresh off his first win in over a month, a massive one for Mason considering all the key moments on Sunday the Flyers hope invigorate his confidence.

Without numerous clutch stops from their goalie, the Flyers don’t come back from two goals down to beat the Islanders, 3-2, in overtime. Mason made four saves  — three on four-time All-Star John Tavares — in just over a minute of a third-period power play. The Flyers ended up having to kill two New York man advantages in the final 10 minutes of regulation in order to force overtime.

The extra session is when Mason was just as good, if not better, stoning Tavares on a breakaway attempt that had game-winner written all over it. Mason made four saves in overtime after 13 in the third period.

“I was happy with the way that, personally, this game went for myself,” Mason said Sunday. “It’s been a tough stretch and this is more the type of game that I expect of myself. In recent games, the team was lacking the big saves and tonight it shows what kind of difference it can make.”

It was a massive performance heading into a massive three-game stretch against the Rangers, Maple Leafs and Hurricanes.

“Mase made some huge saves for us,” Simmonds said. “It allowed us to get back in that game.

“It’s not just Mase [with the] ups and downs. Everyone in here has been kind of fighting it and squeezing sticks pretty tight. That one felt good and I think Mase led the charge for sure.”

Mason understands just one game doesn’t turn around a season.

“It’s nice to feel good after a game,” Mason said. “At the same time, whether you’re winning or losing, you have to have a short mindset and get ready for the next one.”

That brings the Flyers to Madison Square Garden Wednesday to face the Rangers, who they’ve lost five straight games to dating back to last season. Mason hasn’t had much luck against New York this season, allowing seven goals in two losses with an .860 save percentage. However, in 2015-16, Mason put up a 1.74 goals-against average and .941 save percentage in five games against the Rangers.

“That’s going to be a tough game going into MSG,” Mason said Tuesday (see story).

The good thing: Mason was in New York two days ago, remembering what he can be.

Manute Bol's 7-foot, 17-year-old son dominates in HS season debut

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AP Images

Manute Bol's 7-foot, 17-year-old son dominates in HS season debut

Bol Bol, the 17-year-old son of the late Manute Bol, is a top high school basketball prospect with offers from schools like Arizona, Kansas and Creighton. This highlight tape should give you an idea why.
 
Bol, whose father played in the NBA for parts of 12 seasons, including 215 games for the Sixers, now attends the famed Mater Dei High School in California and played in his first game of the season this past weekend. Listed as the No. 16 overall prospect in the 2018 recruiting class by Scout, Bol started his season off with a big 21-point, 10-rebound effort.
 
Take a look at the highlight tape from the 6-foot-11 Bol and expect to see him carry on his father’s legacy on the court at a major NCAA college basketball program soon.