Extra Time: New Jerseys, Number 9, Nicknames, and Keon Rides Again

Extra Time: New Jerseys, Number 9, Nicknames, and Keon Rides Again

A
quick look at some minor Philadelphia Union stories: A peek at the new
jerseys in the wild, Jack McInerney's new number, a nickname idea, and a
site for sore eyes in Orlando.

Pro League Athletic has tweeted the following pictures of the Union's new replica jerseys:
See the home version below, plus a few more Union stories in brief.

As we've seen before, the first one is certainly a different look
from both the gold-dominated and all-white kits from the previous two
seasons, while the second looks fairly similar to their existing primary
gear, although with obvious updates. Still interesting to see that the
kits on sale at the Union's site
appear slightly different
than this version and the one on
WorldSoccerShop.com. Probably just a photo file difference and not a
material one. Thoughts on the new look? Parts you like, elements you
don't?

Now to the players who'll be wearing them, although this next story is still uniform-heavy…

With
Sebastien Le Toux already seeing preseason friendly action wearing a
Vancouver Whitecaps crest, his number 9 was open on the Philadelphia
Union. Not for long though, as Jack McInerney took to twitter today to
announce he'd be wearing it in 2012.
Fear not, fans who bought his previous number 19 version. Jack Mac says
not to worry, he will let you know how it can be taken care of soon.
Doubtful there is a Le Toux jersey contingency plan though, though
you'll never catch any flack at PPL Park for wearing dated gear. Le Toux
jerseys will be timeless.

Now, a bit of slightly old news, but great news nonetheless. The
Union began the week by announcing that Danny Mwanga and Keon Daniel
would join the team for training in Orlando. We knew Mwanga would be
back, as he was just off visiting with Aston Villa for 10 days of
training. Keon… we weren't sure what would happen. After he left the
club to play with his Trinidad and Tobago national team, he never
returned, with various rumors swirling as to why (apparently a visa
issue was the culprit
).
This is great news to us, as Daniel is a Level favorite. We'd love to
see him get more minutes in 2012, but for now we're just happy he's with
the club at all. Hopefully he'll be an even bigger contributor after
gaining experience with his national team.

Philly Soccer Page wonders about a nickname for the Union, proposing
"the Snakes." Even after a particularly Premiership-heavy weekend, it
hadn't dawned on me that the Union didn't have a separate nickname. I
guess, as the post suggests, "the Union" and "the U" were enough. Zolos
is also pretty solid, rooted in the team's history forever. But I like
PSP's idea for a light offseason day post, so feel free to shout any you
might have, either here or there. [Philly Soccer Page

And finally, Kerith Gabriel says we can expect the Union to make the signing of Lionard Pajoy official sometime today.

Hat tip to Steve Moore for the jersey pics.

Joel Embiid 'shoots the ball with the touch of like Steph Curry'

Joel Embiid 'shoots the ball with the touch of like Steph Curry'

NEW ORLEANS -- Of all the players Joel Embiid could be compared to, a similarity between a 7-foot-2, 270-something-pound center and a 6-foot-3, 190-pound point guard wouldn’t seem like a match.

That’s exactly what Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry sees, however, when looking at Embiid and reigning MVP Steph Curry.

“He’s different than anybody that’s been in this league in a long, long time,” Gentry said Thursday before the Sixers win over the Pelicans. “He’s a tremendous talent, he really is. I’ve never seen a guy that size, and with that kind of strength, that’s got such a soft touch. He shoots the ball with the touch of like Steph Curry. It’s so soft when it leaves his hand.”

Curry is shooting 48.9 percent from the field and 40.1 percent from three. Embiid is 45.8 percent from the floor is 44.2 percent from long range.

Embiid flashed a big smile and paused to react when hearing of Gentry’s praise. He had been feeling hard on himself after going 0 for 5 beyond the arc against the Pelicans (see story).

“Steph is probably one of the best shooters in the league right now," Embiid said. "So that compliment means a lot."

This time, Steve Mason bailed out by Flyers' teammates

This time, Steve Mason bailed out by Flyers' teammates

Steve Mason was not his sharpest Thursday night and he's the first to admit it.

"There's nights where you're not feeling as sharp as you'd like to," Mason said. "This is a situation the guys in front never quit. They earned the two points for sure."

Mason yielded five goals for the third time this season, but made enough saves to secure the Flyers' seventh straight win, a 6-5 victory over the Oilers at the Wells Fargo Center.

The win streak is the longest the Flyers have had since Dec. 2-15, 2011, when "Mr. Universe" Ilya Bryzgalov was their goaltender. Mason finished with 28 saves.

"The guys bailed me out," Mason said, "When your goalie is not making the saves that you need, but the guys keep battling in front, from a personal standpoint, it's huge to see."

Making his 16th start in the Flyers' last 17 games, Mason appeared to show signs of fatigue against Edmonton. He's started the last six games, winning all six.

His current six-game win streak is a career-high, and the five goals allowed Thursday is the first time he's allowed more than two goals during this current streak. 

Entering Thursday, Mason was 5-0 with a 1.74 goals-against average and .947 save percentage in his previous five starts, and 8-3-1 with a 2.11 GAA and .930 save percentage since Nov. 12. So Thursday is just a small blemish on Mason's impressive résumé of late.

"I didn't think he looked tired," Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol said. "This win's a little bit indicative of the type of team we have. A couple nights ago, Mason was the best player. He picked up a lot of guys around him and tonight maybe wasn't his best.

"But it was pretty good. The guys battled hard. They picked up some of the slack. That's what it takes. Every guy's not going to be at their best every night.

"You'd like them to be, and I know the guys want to be at that level, but when one piece isn't working, the other part has to pick it up."

The Flyers' offensive outburst came two days after Mason stole two points against the Florida Panthers, and nine days after the goalie stole another two points against Boston.

Twice on Thursday the Flyers faced two-goal deficits, and both times they found a way to erase them. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it's the first time in Flyers' history they were able to win a game in which they were down two goals twice.

"Once we got it to 5-4," Mason said, "I tried to lock it down as best I could. There's nights where you're not feeling as sharp as you'd like to.  … Coming back in a couple of days, from a personal standpoint, I got to be more sharp."

After going falling behind 2-0, the Flyers tied it, 2-2, with three goals in 72 seconds in the second period, the quickest three-goal burst since Feb. 14, 2009, vs. the Islanders. 

Then, the Flyers fell behind 5-3 before Voracek sparked a three-goal third period with his 10th of the year at 6:31. Claude Giroux tallied his second of the game, and Michael Raffl pushed the Flyers to victory with his sixth of the season at 18:31 of the final stanza.

"It's a great feeling to come back from behind," Flyers rookie defenseman Ivan Provorov said. "You never want to be in that position, but that's the way it sometimes go. We stuck with it and came from behind and won the game. It's a great effort."

Of the five goals allowed Thursday, the first goal Mason allowed was the only one that can be pinned on the netminder. It was not a great goal to give up, on the second shot of the game, too. Afterward, he said the read was the backdoor play, but Leon Draisaitl slipped it through Mason's five-hole for his fifth goal in as many games.

"Some nights you can be better than the other nights," Provorov said. "And that's what the team's all about. We play for each other. If someone has a mistake, we all help him out and play for each other. That's why we win games."

"That's how you become a great team," Voracek, who tied a career-high with four points, said. "Mase playing the last six games the way he did, it wasn't his night.

"We came big for him. It's how you get into the playoffs, and it's how you have success in the playoffs. It's a good thing we won the game and get rolling now."