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...

Nerlens Noel to get one-on-one experience while Sixers on road

Nerlens Noel to get one-on-one experience while Sixers on road

Being immersed in the team is important for Nerlens Noel, and so is continuing his rehab. 

While the Sixers are on the road for three days to play the Grizzlies and Pelicans, Noel will remain in Philadelphia to work out at the training complex in Camden, New Jersey. The team is not scheduled to practice in between games, so staying back allows Noel another day to get on the court.

“[I want him to] just start playing more and have a ball in his hands, get hit, physical, feel people, play one-on-one,” head coach Brett Brown said.

Noel has yet to play this season because of elective arthroscopic left knee surgery in October. He rejoined the Sixers after completing the first phase of his rehab in Birmingham, Alabama. There still is no timetable for his return. 

Brown has said there is a “classroom” element to Noel’s return. He has to learn a roster with new players and schemes. 

The on-the-court side of it is a reacclimation to the intensity of the league. Regardless of how many games Noel already has played in the NBA, there is an adjustment period getting back into the grind of the competition. Brown believes the time in the gym this week will help Noel prepare for the level of intensity he will face in his return. 

“It’s such fool’s gold to think somebody’s going to jump back into NBA basketball after you haven’t played for so long. I don’t care how athletic he is,” Brown said. “It’s a man’s world, this league, and there’s a physicality and there’s a real-time reaction you have to have to play in the game. You can’t make that up in practice, you can’t make that up playing one-on-one, but you can better position him instead of just going out to get shots. I want him to feel a body, get hit, hit back, play one-on-one, those types of things.”

Noel had been assigned to the Sixers’ Development League affiliate, the Delaware 87ers, to get in practice time when the Sixers had a game. The Sixers may forego another assignment and keep Noel at their facility as the Sevens also have two games in the next three days. 

Joel Embiid finally struggles in Sixers' loss to Nuggets

Joel Embiid finally struggles in Sixers' loss to Nuggets

BOX SCORE

Joel Embiid has been making the NBA look easy. Rookie of the Month honors, five double-doubles in 13 games, seven performances of 20 points or more … all having missed the last two years rehabbing from foot injuries.

Embiid, though, still is a player learning the league. Night’s like Monday’s lackluster showing are going to happen, even if it seemed unexpected against the struggling Denver Nuggets. 

“We’ve been used to seeing Jo have superhuman nights,” Brett Brown said after the Sixers’ 106-98 loss (see Instant Replay). “I thought Joel was down tonight.” 

Embiid tallied a total 16 points (5 for 15 from the field, 1 for 3 from three, 5 for 6 from the line) with four rebounds, one assist, a career-high five blocks, three turnovers and three fouls in 25:32. 

He had a quiet first half with six points (2 for 5 from the field) and one rebound in 9:21. The biggest struggle came in the third quarter. Embiid scored a single point off a free throw and shot 0 for 6 from the floor. By the end of three, he was shooting 18.2 percent. 

The big man said he needed to be better at passing out of the double team. He committed two turnovers in the third. 

“I wasn’t getting to my spot and I wasn’t getting what I’m used to getting,” Embiid said of the first three quarters. “I’m going to go back and watch the tape and see what I did wrong.” 

Embiid bounced back for another Embiid-like offensive effort in the fourth. He dropped nine points off an efficient 3 for 4 shooting in 7:31. Still, it wasn’t enough. 

“I made a couple shots,” Embiid said. “It didn’t help us win, so I don’t think it matters.”

Brown noticed Embiid rushing his game. He also thought Embiid’s balance was off, something the big man has been dealing with all season as he continues to find his legs. 

Embiid will not play in Tuesday's game against the Grizzlies. It is part of his workload management in which he does not play both games of a back-to-back. Expect him to hone in on game film until his next matchup, and get back on the roller coaster that can be a first year in the NBA. 

“It's just part of a young man's growth,” Brown said. “It just happens. I don't think we need to read too deeply into it. I think, in many ways, to expect from time to time not as good of a performance as we have been used to is fair enough.”