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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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

Best of NBA: Dwyane Wade hits dagger 3-pointer in Bulls debut

Best of NBA: Dwyane Wade hits dagger 3-pointer in Bulls debut

CHICAGO -- Dwyane Wade scored 22 points in a triumphant Chicago debut, Jimmy Butler had 24 and the Bulls won their season opener, beating the Boston Celtics 105-99 on Thursday night.

Wade nailed a 3 from the corner in the final minute to make it a five-point game. Taj Gibson added 18 points and 10 rebounds, and the new-look Bulls got off to a winning start after missing the playoffs last season for the first time since 2008.

Isaiah Thomas led Boston with 25 points. Avery Bradley had 16, and Jae Crowder 14 points, but the Celtics came up short after opening with a win over Brooklyn the previous night.

The Bulls remade their roster in the offseason, jettisoning one hometown superstar and welcoming another when they traded Derrick Rose to New York and signed Wade to a two-year deal worth about $47 million in a move that stunned Miami.

The three-time NBA champion and 12-time All-Star is off to a good start with the Bulls after 13 seasons with the Heat.

Wade hit 4 of 6 3-pointers in this game after making just seven all of last season (see full recap).

New-look Hawks roll past Wizards
ATLANTA -- Dwight Howard dominated the boards in his Atlanta debut, Paul Millsap scored 28 points and Tim Hardaway Jr. ignited the new-look Hawks to a 114-99 victory over the Washington Wizards in their season opener Thursday night.

Howard grabbed 19 rebounds to go along with 11 points, just what the Hawks expected from their new center, and it certainly wasn't unusual for three-time All-Star Millsap to lead the way in scoring.

But Hardaway's performance was totally unexpected given the way he struggled in his first season with the Hawks, when he was largely confined to the bench and even forced to spend time in the D-League.

He scored 21 points, matching his high in an Atlanta uniform, and broke open a close game with back-to-back 3-pointers in the fourth. The Hawks, who led only 81-80 heading to the final period, outscored the Wizards 33-19 over the final 12 minutes (see full recap).

Best of NHL: Canadiens rally past Lightning for 6th straight win

Best of NHL: Canadiens rally past Lightning for 6th straight win

MONTREAL -- Max Pacioretty scored the tiebreaking goal in Montreal's three-goal third period as the Canadiens beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 3-1 Thursday night for their sixth straight win.

Alex Galchenyuk and Torrey Mitchell also scored to help Montreal improve to 7-0-1. Carey Price made 29 saves to win for the fourth time in four starts this season.

Alex Killorn scored the lone goal for the Lightning, who lost against an Eastern-Conference opponent for the first time this season. Ben Bishop stopped 23 shots.

With the scored tied 1-1, Pacioretty got the go-ahead goal at 10:23 by beating Bishop glove-side. Blown coverage by the Lightning left the Canadiens' captain all alone on the edge of the face-off circle, and Bishop couldn't see the shot with Andrew Shaw posted firmly in front of goal.

Montreal remains the only NHL team still undefeated in regulation (see full recap).

Crosby's late goal gives Penguins win over Islanders
PITTSBURGH -- Sidney Crosby scored the tiebreaking goal late in the third period to lead the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 4-2 victory over the New York Islanders on Thursday night.

Patric Hornqvist, Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel also scored -- each getting his third of the season -- to help the Penguins win for the third time in four games and improve to 5-0-1 at home.

Crosby, playing for the second straight game after missing the first six with a concussion, scored with 2:25 left as he caught a pass from Scott Wilson at the top of the crease and quickly turned to his forehand to put the puck behind Islanders goalie Jaroslav Halak.

Kessel added a power-play goal to cap the scoring 32 seconds later.

Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 35 shots while starting for the eighth straight game.

Travis Hamonic and Shane Prince scored for the Islanders, and Halak finished with 31 saves (see full recap).

Streaking Red Wings win marathon shootout vs. Blues
ST. LOUIS -- Henrik Zetterberg scored in the eighth round of a shootout to give the Detroit Red Wings a 2-1 victory over the St. Louis Blues on Thursday night.

Zetterberg's goal gave the Red Wings a six-game winning streak.

In the shootout, St. Louis' first shooter, Alexander Steen, scored but then Vladimir Tarasenko, Kevin Shattenkirk, David Perron, Nail Yakupoc, Robby Fabbri, Patrick Burgland and Dmitrjij Jaskin all came up short.

Gustav Nyquist scored on Detroit's second attempt but Frans Nielsen, Dylan Larkin, Andreas Athanasiou, Tomas Tatar, Riley Sheehan and Darren Helm all missed.

St. Louis had the better chances in overtime. Center Jaden Schwartz missed a wide-open net early in the extra session. Jori Lehtera was stopped on a breakaway midway through the period by Detroit goalie Petr Mrazek (see full recap).