Extra Time: MLS All Star Game to PPL? Adu Wants to Stay in Spain, M. Farfan to Sunderland, US U23's & More

Extra Time: MLS All Star Game to PPL? Adu Wants to Stay in Spain, M. Farfan to Sunderland, US U23's & More

USMNT coach Jürgen Klinsmann may believe the MLS offseason is too long, but with two months to go until the regular season kicks off there's no shortage of Union news. Here's a quick Barcelona-esque tiki-taka look at what's going on with the U.

Kerith Gabriel, subbing for Jonathan Tannenwald on Philly.com's "The Goalkeeper" blog, says rumors of PPL Park hosting the MLS All-Star are just that at this point - rumors. Gabriel quotes Union CEO and managing partner Nick Sakiewicz as stating "I've spoken with the commissioner, but there has been no official announcement from the league to our organization that we won hosting rights."

Freddy Adu, who just finished a ten day training spell in Madrid with La Liga side Rayo Vallecano, tells ESPN's Arch Bell that his sights remain firmly set on returning to Europe. I understand his desire to return to a top tier European league, but he didn't exactly distinguish himself upon arriving in Philly. I'm an admitted Adu apologist , but there's no better way to get on the wrong side of Philly fans than talking about how you'd rather be somewhere else.

Speaking of Adu, he joins Union teammates Zac MacMath, Jack McInerney, Amobi Okugo and Sheanon Williams in being called in for the US U-23 camp. The five Union players were called in by head coach Caleb Porter as he goes about determining who will make the Olympic qualifying roster. Eleven MLS players were called in, five of them are from the Union.

Michael Farfan, he of the cheeky chip against Real Madrid, reportedly will train with English Premier League side Sunderland. Soccer By Ives tweeted the news on Tuesday. 

Diego Gutiérrez, the man responsible for bringing in Carlos Valdes and Faryd Mondragon, is confident that Josué Martínez, Gabriel Gómez and Porfirio López will enjoy similar success with the Union. Gutiérrez, the Union's head of scouting and player development, has a veritable pipeline to Central America and Colombia. 

Zach Pfeffer, the Union's first ever homegrown player, has been called into the US U-18 camp.

The MLS Super Draft is set to take place in Kansas City on Thursday. Here's a mock draft from the MLS website.

Finally, Steve Davis looks back at how far MLS has come in the ten years since the league contracted the Tampa Bay Mutiny and Miami Fusion. As Davis points out, it's amazing that a league forced to contract two teams now has 19 teams in the fold with 13 soccer specific stadiums.

Sixers being cautious with Jahlil Okafor early in training camp

Sixers being cautious with Jahlil Okafor early in training camp

GALLOWAY, N.J. — The Sixers lost Jahlil Okafor for the final 23 games last season because of a small meniscus tear in his right knee. Now they are being cautious as he prepares for his second year.

As part of the Sixers’ prescheduled load management for Okafor, he participated in a portion of practice and then worked out individually with head strength and conditioning coach Todd Wright.

“They just told me to relax once I did what they wanted me to do today,” Okafor said. “I was off to the sidelines. I feel fine. I’ll be good tomorrow.”

Okafor learned during his first NBA season that he should speak more openly with the staff about his body.

“Communication is key,” he said. “I think last year I didn’t really communicate how I was feeling, so I wasn’t able to get the help I needed.”

The team held three practice sessions in the first two days of training camp. Okafor said he knew the Sixers would be cautious with his workload. He is poised to improve upon his rookie year in which he averaged 17.5 points and 7.0 rebounds in 53 games last season.

“I’m 100 percent healthy,” he said. “I’m all good.”

Joel Embiid adjusting to new challenges in 1st NBA training camp

Joel Embiid adjusting to new challenges in 1st NBA training camp

GALLOWAY, N.J. -- With Joel Embiid's excitement to be on the court following two years of injuries comes the reality of his lengthy setback.

Embiid is participating in his first NBA training camp this week. While he has impressed with his natural abilities and improved skills, Embiid is facing challenges as he gets accustomed to the league.

"Everything is kind of off right now as far as catching the ball or shooting," Embiid said after practice Wednesday. "I've still got to get in the flow of the game."

Embiid has yet to play since being drafted in 2014. For the past two years he has worked out individually and in controlled settings. Practices, even in training camp, are different. 

"You see all the time when you realize he hasn't played basketball for a long time," Sixers head coach Brett Brown said. "He's trying to gather his feet and find his balance, he's trying to figure out stuff in real time speed on defensive assignments and rotations."

On Wednesday, Embiid went through practice without any minute restrictions and was feeling healthier from the cold and virus he had been battling (see story). Teammates have praised his physical presence and eagerness to compete. He makes an impact with his 7-foot-2 presence alone, but there is more he wants to improve. 

Embiid is adjusting to the speed of the game. He has been facing challenges with getting the ball in the post and spoke to the coaches about his frustrations. The staff explained they are focusing on pick-and-roll defense and getting out to run during training camp, but he will get that desired location in game situations. 

“You continue to see the size of Joel Embiid,” Brown said. “He's a big man and he's got a mindset to back up his physical gifts. He really wants the ball. He wants to get deep catches. He wants to dunk on people.”

Embiid always has been realistic about his transition to his rookie season. He has pointed out many times that he is a fast learner, and is anxious to soak up new knowledge and apply it to the court.

"It's really frustrating," he said. "But like I've said, you've got to trust the process, which I've been doing."