Doopocalypse Now: Union Look to Put Out Fire

Doopocalypse Now: Union Look to Put Out Fire


The Union (4-3-2), who still sit in second place in the Eastern Conference, host the Chicago Fire (1-3-5), a team Peter Nowak helped lead to an MLS Cup as a player, this evening at PPL Park (8PM/Comcast SportsNet).

Chicago has not won a game since March 26, which helps to explain why they are currently the eighth place team in the East. Amazingly, they've played four consecutive ties. An even scoreline tonight against the Union would tie a single season MLS record for consecutive draws.

The U have had a rough go of it lately, going winless over their last three games (loss at Portland, tie at home against the Galaxy, and last week's 2-0 loss at FC Dallas). True, the loss at Dallas was their third game in ten days, but for the first time all season they were way too loose in the back.

Uncharacteristically, the marking was poor. Sheanon Williams either
completely lost sight of Brek Shea, or felt he had to provide some cover
to the middle of the box on the first Dallas goal. It was one of the
few times all season where the Union were caught scrambling in the back.
It looked like the type of goal they gave up all too often in 2010.

Then, for the first time all season, they conceded a second goal when Fabian Castillo (who set up the first Dallas goal) slipped between two Union players and headed home the knockout punch past Faryd Mondragon. Tonight they'll have to focus the bulk of their attention on Marco Pappa and Diego Chaves, who are tied for the team lead in goals with four apiece.

On the flip-side, the Union offense looked downright dangerous the first 25-30 minutes of the game. Justin Mapp was playing out of his mind early on, running at and past people, beating his man to the endline, cutting towards the middle a la Arjen Robben (For the record: no I am not comparing Mapp and Robben. I am simply saying Mapp made a few cutting runs towards the middle of the box in much the same patented way Robben does).

Even Brian Carroll got forward. Perhaps they were so caught up in their discovery of actual positive play that the end result was an uncharacteristically lax defensive effort.

Despite looking so threatening early on, the Union were unable to actually put a ball past Dallas keeper Kevin Hartman. Even their lineup coming out of halftime, Carlos Ruiz, Jack McInerney, Roger Torres, Danny Mwanga and Sebastien Le Toux (by far the most attacking lineup I've ever seen Nowak trot out) was unable to solve Hartman.

It's somewhat interesting that right now the Phillies and Union have to play similar styles in order to win games. They have to be clean defensively and just grind out the offense in the hopes that they can somehow scratch across a run/goal. It's not the prettiest thing to watch, but to date both teams have found a way to get results. If either team could get their offense and defense to click at the same time it'd be scary.

Here’s the lineup I hope we see tonight: Mondragon, Harvey, Valdes, Califf, Williams, Daniel, Torres, Carroll, Le Toux, Mwanga, McInerney (yes, I am still beating the Jack Mac drum).

Final Score Prediction: Offensively Chicago just isn't all that threatening. Unfortunately, the same can be said about the Union. However, playing at home will make all the difference as the Union win it 1-0.

The Toni Stahl Memorial Union Player Most Likely To See Red: Brian Carroll. I have zero basis for that prediction. Honestly. None whatsoever. Just go with it.

Report: Nelson Agholor expected to be active for Eagles vs. Bengals

Report: Nelson Agholor expected to be active for Eagles vs. Bengals

Nelson Agholor is expected to be active for the Eagles against the Bengals on Sunday, according to ESPN's Adam Caplan. 

Agholor, who has struggled mightily in his second pro season, was held out of the Eagles' loss to the Packers on Monday night. Undrafted rookie and preseason standout Paul Turner dressed in his place.

The Eagles may be without their leading receiver, Jordan Matthews, who has an ankle injury and is considered a game-time decision.

For the season, Agholor has 27 catches for 264 yards in 10 games. His lone touchdown reception came in the Eagles' win over the Browns in Week 1.

Instant Replay: Celtics 107, Sixers 106

Instant Replay: Celtics 107, Sixers 106

BOX SCORE

Rewind 24 hours.

The Sixers were walking off the court Friday night after a dismal blowout loss to the Magic that left Brett Brown reflecting on Saturday, “Here in Philadelphia, at home, that’s not good enough.”

The Sixers had lacked fire and grit, especially with Joel Embiid on the floor against a sub-.500 Magic team that had played the night before in Memphis. 

They had a day to turn it around. A playoff contending Celtics squad was coming to town and Embiid wasn’t available because of his back-to-back limitations. The shorthanded Sixers (see below) had a tall task ahead of them. 

The Sixers reacted by jumping out early and kept the Celtics at bay in the first half. Even when the Celtics cut their lead to three midway through the second quarter, the Sixers responded with an 8-0 burst to go up by a game-high 11 points. 

The Celtics exposed the Sixers' defensive void in the paint without Embiid in the third. With the Sixers up 65-58, Isaiah Thomas drew a foul against Jahlil Okafor. That play sparked a 9-0 Celtics run over the next two minutes, in which Thomas scored six of those points (including four at the line). The Celtics took back the lead during that stretch and forced the Sixers to play catchup.

The Sixers cut the Celtics lead to one in the fourth with a three from Dario Saric, who played one of his most aggressive games of his short NBA career. After the Celtics jumped back up by seven, the Sixers kept fighting and tied the game 100 apiece. The Celtics were able to pull away and finished with a one-point win, 107-106, after Ersan Ilyasova drained a three at the buzzer. 

Inside the stats
Thomas exploded for 37 points (11 for 19 from the field, 2 for 3 from three, 13 for 15 from the line), four rebounds, and seven assists.

Saric recorded a double-double with 21 points and 12 rebounds off the bench, both tying career-highs. 

Ersan Ilyasova dropped 18 points, including three treys, and six rebounds.

Okafor and Sergio Rodriguez scored 15 apiece, with Rodriguez adding eight assists. 

Avery Bradley dropped 20 points and nine rebounds. 

Stauskas starts in place of Covington
Brown turned to shooting guard Nik Stauskas to slide over to the three spot in place of the injured Robert Covington (see below). 

“Boston’s perimeter defense is as good as it is in the NBA,” Brown explained. “I think you need to have more ball handlers, people who can make a play, on the perimeter … I feel that Nik has that ability to put it to the floor and disrupt that aggressive pressure that the Celtics backcourt can put on you.”

Broken ankles
Saric came up with the Sixers' highlight play of the game when he did this to Jonas Jerebko in the third quarter for an instant highlight reel moment. 

Always a student
Not playing, still learning. Embiid has been praised for being an eager student of the game. During warmups he sat courtside to watch film on a laptop even though he wasn’t suiting up. 

Injury updates
Joel Embiid is not playing in back-to-back games and sat out the back end of this home-home series for rest … Robert Covington sat out with a sprained left knee he suffered on Friday after colliding with T.J. McConnell chasing a ball out of bounds … Jerryd Bayless missed his fourth straight game with left wrist soreness. 

Up next
The Sixers host the Nuggets on Monday night.