Extra Time: Mondragon Leaving? Le Toux Staying? Mwanga Leaving, but Coming Back?

Extra Time: Mondragon Leaving? Le Toux Staying? Mwanga Leaving, but Coming Back?

For the unfamiliar, soccer transfer windows are like the MLB, NBA, NHL, and NFL trade deadlines on steroids. It's a global game. Players move from continent to continent. Teams send scouts all over the world to identify talent. Media from around the globe speculate, rumor monger, and generally throw anything and everything against the wall and hope something sticks.
Imagine a global army of Buster Olney's, Jay Glazer's, Ric Bucher's, and Darren Dreger's racing to concoct transfer scenarios and news. It's a page-view driven world, and the more wild the speculation the better. 
My point? Take everything with a grain of salt.
What does that mean as it relates to the Philadelphia Union? Well, last night Goal.com's US Latino Chief Editor Eric Gómez tweeted that Union goalkeeper "Faryd Mondragon is rumored to be close to signing with Deportivo Cali in Colombia".
On the surface, the rumor makes some sense. Mondragon, who is from Colombia, started his professional career with Deportivo Cali. He's also 40 years old and in the twilight of his career. Returning to Colombia end his playing career would seem to have some appeal. Goal.com's Gómez later tweeted there could be some post-playing career considerations - namely becoming the goalkeeper coach for the Colombian National Team:
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@goaleric
Eric Gómez Mondragon's sudden departure has to do with the supposed offer to be the Colombia NT Goalkeeper coach, according to @jrojasa75
Jan 28 via web Favorite Retweet Reply

If Mondragon leaves, which is not a given, the Union would turn to former first round pick and second year man Zac MacMath to handle the first team goalkeeping duties.
Elsewhere, after leaving for a week long training spell with Premier League side Bolton Wanderers, Sebastien Le Toux is back in the area. Bolton manager Owen Coyle apparently was not impressed enough to pursue a transfer. CSNPhilly.com's Ryan Bright pulls a few quotes from Coyle via Sportinglife.com. Coyle said:
"Sebastien came in for a couple of days, and to be fair to him he hadn't trained for four or five weeks. He did fine and that's where it is. We'd have probably needed a longer look."
So where does this leave the Union in terms of depth at the forward position? As it stands, they currently they have Le Toux, Danny Mwanga, Jack McInerney, first round pick Chandler Hoffman, and new signing Josue Martinez. I cannot imagine they'd carry five forwards in the regular season.
What are they going to do? Well, in what can only be described as oddly-timed news, the Union released a statement yesterday announcing that Mwanga had departed for "a 10-day training stint with Barclay's English Premier League side Aston Villa". Why is the timing odd? Well, training camp opens next week (fitness testing has actually already begun).
Yes, a number of Union players have trained with European clubs this offseason (Freddy Adu, MacMath, Amobi Okugo, Zach Pfeffer, Michael Farfan, and Le Toux), but the key word there is "offseason". Why allow Mwanga to leave on a training spell on the eve of preseason camp?
I don't think Mwanga is even close to being ready to make the jump to the Premier League, so I am not too concerned about a transfer to Aston Villa, but the timing is certainly odd.
Finally, just because it was so absurd, here is video of Barcelona's Dani Alves striking an absolute laser guided missile of a goal from earlier in the week against Real Madrid in the second leg of the Copa Del Rey quaterfinals.

Photo Credit: Brett Davis, US-Presswire

TicketIQ: Affordable seats available to see Sixers face marquee opponents

TicketIQ: Affordable seats available to see Sixers face marquee opponents

Editor's Note: The following is sponsored content written by TicketIQ.

The improvements have been obvious for the 76ers this season. Just months removed from a franchise-worst 10-72 record, the Sixers have begun to see return on their rebuild with rookie Joel Embiid leading the charge.
 
December will be a big month for the team as it looks to rise in the Eastern Conference. Attending an upcoming game won’t come attached with big ticket prices, either. With several marquee opponents headed to Wells Fargo Center over the next four weeks, including the Lakers, Celtics and Raptors, fans can find relatively inexpensive ticket prices on the resale market all month long.
 
On TicketIQ, a ticket search engine that pools tickets and data from over 90 percent of the resale market, the average resale price for 76ers tickets in December is just $58. That makes December among the cheapest months to see the Sixers this season.

 
With the Lakers in town for a December 16 game, it will be the only 76ers home game this month that commands an average resale price above $100. On TicketIQ, 76ers vs Lakers tickets own a $112 average and the most inexpensive are listed from $27 each. It will be the Lakers’ sole visit to Philadelphia this season.
 
The Celtics will be the Sixers’ second most expensive opponent this month, but their December 3 visit is currently averaging nearly half the price the Lakers are seeing when they’re in town two weeks later. As it stands now the average resale price for tickets against the Celtics is $69 with a get-in price of $13.
 
The Nets, Pelicans and Raptors are all generating similar demand for their respective stops in Philadelphia later this month. With all three teams visiting over a six-day period between December 14 and 20, no game will average over $55 on the secondary market. Tickets start from as low as $7 each to when Anthony Davis and the Pelicans come to town on the 20th.
 
For those fans with interest in attending the most inexpensive games at Wells Fargo Center this month, the struggling Orlando Magic and Denver Nuggets will serve as the most affordable opponents to see in action in December. The Magic play the Sixers on Friday night, where last-minute 76ers vs. Magic tickets are averaging $43. Their next home game against the Nuggets have an average resale price of just $35.

Instant Replay: Magic 105, Sixers 88

Instant Replay: Magic 105, Sixers 88

BOX SCORE

One way to try to win a game: Go up by six early in the first quarter and look to build on that lead.

One way to lose a game: Squander that advantage and give up a 16-0 run to the opponent. 

The Sixers' effort to beat the Magic ended almost as quickly as it began. The Magic outscored the Sixers 21-14 in the first and put the game out of reach in the third with a 21-point lead going into the fourth.  

The Sixers fell, 105-88, to the Magic in spite of increased playing time for Joel Embiid (26:56).

Inside the stats
Joel Embiid recorded a double-double with 25 points (10 for 21 from the field) and 10 rebounds, as well as four assists. Jahlil Okafor did the same with 16 points (8 for 10 from the field) and a season-high 13 boards.

Aaron Gordon led the Magic with 20 points (9 for 14 from the field).

Nikola Vucevic also had a 12-point, 11-rebound double-double with five assists off the bench.

The Sixers shot just 6 for 26 (23.1 percent) from the field in the first quarter.

Embiid, Okafor play together
As anticipated, Sixers head coach Brett Brown paired Embiid and Okafor together against bigs Vucevic and Bismack Biyombo. 

They shared the court for 5:29 in the second quarter, during which the Sixers outscored the Magic, 12-9. The duo scored all of the Sixers' points during that span and combined for five rebounds. This combination allowed the Sixers to stretch the floor; Embiid made two threes in this spurt. 

Brown gave them another look in the fourth for over seven minutes when the Magic already had put the game away. This time they totaled 12 points and four rebounds, as the Sixers and Magic both scored 19 apiece during this stretch. Toward the end, Okafor was matched up with swingman Jeff Green. 

Injury updates
Robert Covington left the game in the fourth quarter with a left knee sprain after colliding with T.J. McConnell in front of the Sixers' bench chasing for a loose ball.

Jerryd Bayless (left wrist soreness) missed his third straight game. He is questionable for Saturday against the Celtics.

Familiar competition 
Before Embiid and Biyombo faced off in the NBA, they got to know each other before Embiid entered the league. The two bigs became friends in 2014 when they met training in Los Angeles while Embiid was preparing for the draft.

“He’s still the same guy,” Biyombo said. “Nothing’s changed with his goofy personality.” 

Up next
No rest for the Sixers. On Saturday they will host the Celtics for the back end of a back-to-back. Two days later, they play the Nuggets at the Wells Fargo Center on Monday.