Extra Time: Friendly Week Links, No Tim Howard Tonight, But Plenty to Talk About

Extra Time: Friendly Week Links, No Tim Howard Tonight, But Plenty to Talk About

The Union are set to take on Everton of the English Premier League later tonight at PPL Park, followed by Real Madrid at Lincoln Financial Field on Saturday. That's quite a week of meaningless footie right there, and I'm really looking forward to it.

Here's a quick compilation of Union extras that are floating around this week.

First, Tim Howard won't be roving the cage for Everton tonight. His surprise absence isn't sitting well with the Union, who had some barbed words about the way Everton managed the situation. I'm fairly disappointed, as Howard's one of my favorite players to watch, and I was looking forward to sitting very close behind him for a half and watching him shout out assignments for 45 minutes. Didn't Stu Holden tell him that even Wolverine hangs out at PPL Park? [CSNPhilly]

A picture of Tim Howard with a doppelganger was floating around twitter the other night (even made Deadspin), and The Brotherly Game linked that chance meeting in an airport to Howard's Facebook page under a post that's titled, "A funny thing happened on my way to Philly…" Only… he's not playing in Philly? [The Brotherly Game]

Also check out the full story of the man who met Tim Howard in an airport bar while telling his friends how much he looks like Tim Howard. He got to watch the Women's World Cup Final with Timmy, but it came with a price… [620 WTMJ]

Here's a look at the Union's preview of those Everton players who will be in Chester tonight. [Union]

And, interestingly, Everton's guide to the Union. Very respectful of the U. [Everton]

The crew over at FootyHip have some photos and a report from yesterday's Everton training session at PPL Park [FootyHip]

Will Faryd Mondragon be patrolling the other end of the pitch? CSNPhilly contributor Ryan Bright wondered speculated as to whether he might get a night off with three games in six days and Real Madrid looming, but the absence of Howard and a packed house may have the Union thinking they have to pull out all the stops. Faryd had kind of an easy night in New England anyway. [RBrightUnion]

Speaking of Mondragon, he was the lone member of the first place Union to be selected to the MLS All-Star Game, officially giving us another professional sports league about which to gripe about snubs. Soccer By Ives named its All-Snub Team yesterday, and two Unioners were on it—defenders Sheanon Williams and Carlos Valdes. [Soccer By Ives]

Here's an interview with snubbee Sheanon Williams, who is having one hell of a breakout season. [Soccer Banter]

When Real Madrid come to Philly this weekend, will they be bringing their ladies? It seems they can be quite distracting. Everything about this video, including the update posted at the end, is amusing. [Dirty Tackle]

For a great look back at the Union's win over New England this past weekend, check out Philly Soccer Page's player match ratings and analysis. Also check out Ed Farnsworth's look at the Union's season by the numbers, with particular focus on their three road wins. [Philly Soccer Page]

Feels like forever since the last home game. Can't wait to get down to PPL tonight...

With T.J. McConnell, Hawks say Sixers have 'identity' worth respecting

With T.J. McConnell, Hawks say Sixers have 'identity' worth respecting

ATLANTA – The final score was a little lopsided and the game was sloppy at times, but after beating Philadelphia, 110-93, Saturday night, the Hawks said they see promise in the rising young Sixers.

The Sixers didn’t have the legs on the tail end of back-to-back games to keep up with another hot team, and Joel Embiid did not play, as Atlanta (26-18) won for the 11th time in 13 games to move within a half game of Boston for the No. 3 spot in the East.

Yet if not for the Sixers' 21 turnovers and a second quarter where Atlanta seemed to make every shot, the Sixers (15-27) looked enough like the team that had won eight of 10 games before arriving in Philips Arena that the Hawks see differences.

The biggest change in the Sixers between Saturday and the first two meetings of the season between these two teams — one played with Embiid and one without — is T.J. McConnell starting at point guard rather than Sergio Rodriguez.

McConnell had a game-high 11 assists against the Hawks in addition to his eight points, and the Sixers had 27 assists on a night where they hit 12 of 29 three-pointers.

“They have an identity,” said Atlanta forward Kent Bazemore, who scored 16. “McConnell is playing really well, putting pressure on the defense and their floor spacing is very good. Very disciplined group.

“Guys are in the right spots, if a guy drives, they have a plethora of options: a guy in the corner, a guy on the jumper, a guy on the wing. They kept us honest for a chunk of the game.”

Ersan Ilyasova scored 21 points on 15 shots and Robert Covington added 15 points and 10 rebounds, but the Sixers were gassed in the second quarter, as the Hawks hit 16 of 23 shots in a 37-point period.

Atlanta stretched a 62-54 halftime lead to 18 points late in the third quarter, but the Sixers cut the deficit to 94-87 with 6:46 left in the game on a pair of free throws by rookie Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot.

The Sixers whipped the Hawks, 20-11, in fast break points.

“They were getting some threes in transition,” said Hawks head coach Mike Budenholzer, who was on the Spurs' staff for years with Sixers head coach Brett Brown. “Right now, they’re pushing the pace.

“T.J. McConnell does a great job of getting outlets, getting up the court and finding shooters quickly and they’re letting it fly. Covington and Ilyasova and those guys are collapsing us early and shooting early threes.”

The Sixers had problems on the boards in Atlanta, where Dwight Howard grabbed 15 and Paul Millsap added 10 as the Hawks built a 48-38 rebounding edge. Those numbers were every bit as important as Millsap’s 21 points and the 13 added by Howard.

That disparity on the boards and the Sixers' collective loose handle did in the visitors. Atlanta scored 17 points off the Sixers’ 21 turnovers.

Embiid was scheduled to rest Saturday anyway. It’s unclear whether he’ll play Tuesday against the Clippers, who will be without guard Chris Paul and forward Blake Griffin, or Wednesday at Milwaukee.

Embiid suffered a knee contusion in Friday night’s 93-92 win over the Trail Blazers and Brown said he’d be further evaluated Sunday.

Get him back in the mix, and The Sixers have a shot at starting another winning streak.

“We did a good shot of holding them to one shot,” Howard said after the Hawks outscored the Sixers, 14-0, in second-chance points. “They play really hard. They play aggressive. They play good team basketball. They share the ball and find the open man. They have a good group of young guys.

“It wasn’t as easy as people expect out of Philly teams. You have to respect them.”

Yordano Ventura, Andy Marte die in separate Dominican crashes

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Yordano Ventura, Andy Marte die in separate Dominican crashes

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic -- Authorities in the Dominican Republic say that Kansas City Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura and former major leaguer Andy Marte both have died in separate traffic accidents.

Highway patrol spokesman Jacobo Mateo says Ventura died on a highway leading to the town of Juan Adrian, about 40 miles (70 kilometers) northwest of Santo Domingo. He says it's not clear if Ventura was driving.

Metropolitan traffic authorities say Marte died when a car he was driving hit a house along a road between San Francisco de Macoris and Pimentel, about 95 miles (150 kilometers) north of the capital.