Extra Time: Union Charge Rhinos, Torres Nearing Return

Extra Time: Union Charge Rhinos, Torres Nearing Return

Photo by Earl Gardner

seeing the Union allow Toronto FC to earn points for the first time in
10 matches this past Saturday, we won't pretend that last night's 3-0
win in Lamar Hunt US Open Cup play wasn't a relief, even if it came
against a minor league team. It wasn't out of the question that they
might lose to the Rochester Rhinos of the USL Pro League… not with the
way they played just a few days earlier in Canada. 

Josue Martinez got the U on the board early, scoring
in the fifth minute, and Freddy Adu made it 2-0 after a long weather
delay. Adu also converted a PK in the second half, giving the Union a
3-0 lead that would stand. 

More on the match, some meaty links, and a fun video below. 

know much, if anything, about the US Open Cup? Philly Soccer Page has
previously run (and updated for this year) a great primer on it. Worth a
read whether you're into soccer or just a Philly sports history buff.
[Philly Soccer Page]

Due perhaps to a combination of factors including a
non-league match against an unknown opponent, the threat of bad weather
that ultimately came, and the Union's disastrous season to date, less
than 4,200 fans were announced to be in attendance, though Chris Vito of
the Daily Times thought there might be only 1,000 there at the start.

Even better news than the win, Vito also reports
that Roger Torres expects to return to the field in time for the Union's
June 9th friendly
against affiliate club Reading United. The
inconsistent offense could use a boost from the talented playmaker, who
has been on the shelf since early April after knee surgery. It's been a
long six weeks… [DelcoTimes] 

Speaking of the offensive inconsistency, Kerith
Gabriel looks at the Union's feast or famine attack, which was in Feast
Mode last night. [Daily News] 

PSP also has a nice summary of the action from last
night, which is where we first saw Earl Gardner's great picture of what
we assume was a passing apocalypse.

Union affiliate Harrisburg City Islanders beat the
New England Revolution last night, and the LA Galaxy also lost in Open
Cup play. Next up for the Union is DC United on June 5 (in Maryland).
Jonathan Tannenwald has more on the Harrisburg win

The US Women's National Team played China at PPL Park this past weekend, winning
the Olympic tune-up, 4-1. The following video (from 2010) has nothing to do with that, but it's kind of hilarious. Via the Sons of Ben on Facebook:

Saint Joseph's signs two players to National Letters of Intent

USA Today Images

Saint Joseph's signs two players to National Letters of Intent

Saint Joseph's head coach Phil Martelli on Wednesday announced the signing of two players to National Letters of Intent during the early-signing period. 

Taylor Funk, a 6-8 forward from Columbia, Pa., and Manheim Central High School, and Anthony Longpre, a 6-10 forward originally from L’Assomption, Quebec and attends Glenelg Country School in Maryland, both signed their letters of intent and plan to enroll at Saint Joseph's in Fall 2017.

As a junior, Funk averaged 21.3 points per game and was a PIAA Class AAA All-State Third Team selection. His ability to score as well as shoot the three will make him a valuable asset to a young Hawks squad that features nine underclassmen. Funk enters his senior year at Manheim Central High School with 165 career threes.

Longpre, who has only been in the United States for two years, has been a major contributor at Glenelg Country School since arriving. He averaged 15.5 points per game in his sophomore year and followed that up by averaging a double-double (12.7 points, 10 rebounds) in his junior campaign. 

Martelli had nothing but praise for Funk and Longpre when discussing the recent signings. 

“Taylor and Anthony are welcome additions to a young group of terrific people," said Martelli. "They will add to the character of our team and program. Taylor is a skillful young player who embraced Saint Joseph’s at a young age. We greatly look forward to helping him pursue his dreams. Anthony’s game and basketball IQ are beyond his years. He has received exceptional coaching at a young age, which is something that excites me about the future.”

The Hawks (3-4) are in the midst of a four-game losing streak after opening the season 3-0. They take on Drexel in a Big 5 showdown at the Daskalakis Athletic Center on Sunday. 

Seth Smith would be a logical, low-cost trade target for Phillies

Seth Smith would be a logical, low-cost trade target for Phillies

Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said Tuesday night he'd still like another veteran bat in addition to Howie Kendrick, though he understands the front office is conscious of not blocking young prospects.

The Phillies need offense and the clearest area to upgrade is an outfield corner. But don't expect to see the Phils go after Jose Bautista, Michael Saunders or anyone of that ilk, because those players will require multi-year guarantees and everyday playing time. If you sign one of them, you're basically telling two of Roman Quinn, Nick Williams and Aaron Altherr that they won't be needed much the next three years. 

That would be unwise. The whole point of rebuilding is filling a roster with young, inexpensive talent and then eventually supplementing that core with established players who fit. Look at what the Cubs did. Look at what the Astros are doing now, adding older players like Carlos Beltran, Brian McCann, Nori Aoki and Josh Reddick to fill in the holes around Jose Altuve, George Springer, Carlos Correa and Alex Bregman.

For that reason, a player like Seth Smith would be a worthwhile addition for the Phillies.

Smith, 34, makes $7 million in 2017, the final year of his contract with the Mariners. When Mackanin discusses "professional hitters," Smith is the type. He has one of the better batting eyes in baseball, chasing about eight percent fewer pitches outside the strike zone the last three years than the league average.

He's a career .261/.344/.447 hitter who averages 29 doubles, 16 homers, 56 walks and 102 strikeouts per 162 games.

The left-handed Smith can play both outfield corners, and he's always been very effective against right-handed pitching. He has a .272 career batting average with an .827 OPS against righties compared to .202 with a .594 OPS vs. lefties. 

Smith is a fit for the Phillies for several reasons. They need more offense from the corner outfield. Logically, that outfielder should be a left-handed hitter because the Phillies' projected middle of the order has four right-handed bats in Maikel Franco, Tommy Joseph, Cameron Rupp and Kendrick.

Furthermore, Smith, unlike Saunders, for example, does not require everyday playing time. Smith shouldn't start against lefties. That would provide opportunities to Altherr and Quinn in 2017, while protecting against ineffectiveness from Altherr and another injury to Quinn.

And lastly, Smith is not going to cost anything meaningful via trade. He's a 34-year-old platoon player in the final year of his deal. The Phillies could likely land him for an insignificant prospect, perhaps a pitcher who had a high strikeout rate last season in the low levels of the minor leagues. 

For Seattle, it would be more of a salary dump. The Mariners' 2016 payroll is already $20 million more than it was last year, and per reports, they seem willing to spend to improve their starting rotation.

Smith is not a game-changer, that's not the argument here. He's not J.D. Martinez, a much bigger name and better player. Martinez would also fit the Phillies as a one-year option, and they'd likely be interested in keeping him around longer if they could acquire him. But any trade with the Tigers for Martinez wouldn't be nearly as painless for the Phils as acquiring Smith. 

So perhaps more than other available outfielders, Smith would be an offensive upgrade and a player who fits the Phillies' goal of improving without stunting a top prospect's growth.