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...

Vince Velasquez feels the heat in Phillies' Sunday loss to Pirates

Vince Velasquez feels the heat in Phillies' Sunday loss to Pirates

BOX SCORE

PITTSBURGH --- Vince Velasquez wasn’t able to stand the heat Sunday afternoon.

The game-time temperature was 89 degrees with humidity to match at PNC Park. The Phillies' right-hander admitted he didn’t handle the weather well.

"You're going to go through various conditions, and it's something that you've got to really take into consideration -- to really lock in, stay hydrated because it can mentally drain you,” Velasquez said. “It kind of took a toll on me but I have to make the best of what I've got.”

Velasquez wound up pitching six innings in the blistering heat but did not factor in the decision as the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Phillies 5-4 on pinch-hitter Adam Frazier’s leadoff home run in the seventh inning, his first in the major leagues, off fellow rookie Edubray Ramos (see Instant Replay).

Velasquez had his worst of his five starts since coming off the disabled list June 26, allowing four runs and seven hits while walking four and striking out five. He threw 107 pitches, 64 for strikes.

In his first four outings after begin activated, he was 3-0 with a 1.88 ERA to raise his record to 8-2.

“Just looking at his body language, he showed that he was struggling to find the strike zone,” Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. “He didn't have his best location. He did a good job; he just made a couple bad pitches when they scored the two runs. Obviously, he wasn't at his best, but he kept us in the game.”

While that kind of outing can breed confidence in a 24-year-old pitcher, Velasquez took no consolation in it. He was bothered about not being able to hold a 4-2 lead in the bottom of the sixth inning, giving up a tying two-run home run to Matt Joyce.

“I knew it was my last inning when I went out there and I have to be able to close it out there,” Velasquez said. “I’m disappointed in that. I need to be better in that situation.”

Joyce’s blast came on pitch after Starling Marte doubled on an 0-2 pitch. That, too, annoyed Velasquez.

“That's just a matter of finishing at-bats,” Velasquez said. “You've got to lock in on 0-2 counts when you're ahead. You've got to finish the at-bat. Knowing that that was my last inning, that's where you have to bear down and give it all you've got.”

Ramos then gave up the game-winning homer to Frazier an inning later, the first long ball given up by the 23-year-old right-hander in 14 career outings. The Phillies wound up losing two of three games in the series and are 3-7 since the All-Star break to drop to 10 games under .500 at 45-55 through 100 games.

“It’s a game we should have won but I put us in position to lose it,” Velasquez said.

Dallas Cowboys bus involved in fatal crash in Arizona

Dallas Cowboys bus involved in fatal crash in Arizona

KINGMAN, Ariz. -- Four people were killed Sunday when bus carrying Dallas Cowboys staffers but no players collided with a van on a northwestern Arizona highway.

The fatalities were passengers in the van, Arizona Department of Public Safety spokesman Quentin Mehr said. But the bus occupants emerged uninjured.

"All on the bus came through OK with some bumps and bruises," Cowboys spokesman Rich Dalrymple (DAHL'-rimp-ul) said in an email.

Dalrymple said the bus was only carrying members of the franchise's staff but would not say how many. There were no players on board.

The two vehicles collided in the afternoon on U.S. 93, about 30 miles north of the city of Kingman, according to DPS.

The crash shut down at least one lane of the highway that serves as the main route between Phoenix and Las Vegas.

The bus was on its way to a Dallas Cowboys fan event in Las Vegas. Charles Cooper, manager of GameWorks entertainment center in Vegas, said the session with 50 to 75 fans was scheduled for 3 p.m. PDT. People were already waiting when the president of a Las Vegas Cowboys fan club called to relay news of the accident. The event was subsequently canceled. Cooper says the team mascot was supposed to appear.

After the Las Vegas stop, the bus was scheduled to go on to Oxnard, California for the team's training camp. Members of the organization typically take a bus two weeks before the camp starts and make stops along the way.

Report: Phillies preparing for possible Jeremy Hellickson trade to Marlins

Report: Phillies preparing for possible Jeremy Hellickson trade to Marlins

Jeremy Hellickson may be staying in the NL East past the trade deadline. 

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported that the Phillies are scouting the Marlins' minor league teams in advance of a possible Hellickson deal. 

This comes on the heels of a report from a radio host in Miami that Marlins starter Wei-Yin Chen may need Tommy John surgery. Chen left with an elbow sprain during Wednesday's loss to the Phillies and was placed on the disabled list. Ironically, Chen was starting against Hellickson, who will face Jarred Cosart in place of Chen on Monday.

Hellickson's value rebounded significantly this season after struggling in Arizona and Tampa Bay the last few seasons. After dealing with a shoulder injury, Hellickson pitched to ERAs above 4.50 in each season from 2013-15, leading to the Diamondbacks trading him to the Phillies for limited value. 

However, in 20 starts, Hellickson, who will be a free agent after the year, has anchored the Phillies' rotation, bringing a 3.84 ERA over 119 ⅔ innings into Monday's scheduled start. He also has a nearly career-best strikeout rate and has regained his signature command that made him a strong performer with the Rays.

The Phillies are aided this trade deadline by a lack of starting pitching options available on the market. With many teams in contention looking for an additional starter, Hellickson is an attractive piece who could help a team in a pennant race.