How will Maurice Edu's national team call-up affect the Philadelphia Union season?

How will Maurice Edu's national team call-up affect the Philadelphia Union season?

Maurice Edu will get a chance to impress Wednesday against Mexico.

The newest Union fan.

If you follow me on Twitter, you know it's been a busy week for me.

And since I can't possibly show you all my wallet photos (do people still carry wallet photos?), I'm going to do the next best thing and post a totally, completely and utterly shameless photo of my 2-day-old daughter Sarah right here. Make fun. See if I care (I don't).

Anyway, I will admit to not being totally up on the Union latest this week, and won't be able to make Saturday's game against the Montreal Impact (4 p.m. -- 6ABC).

The one piece of news I did see, however, was that Union midfielder Maurice Edu was included on the U.S. roster for next Wednesday's friendly against Mexico (11 p.m. -- ESPN). He will join the team AFTER Saturday's game against Montreal. And since this just a lone friendly, he (theoretically) should be back for next weekend's game in Chicago. Although, if he plays 90 minutes Saturday, then plays at least a half for the stars and stripes, I'd have to think he might rest against the Fire.

What to remember about this news:

  • This game is not on an approved "FIFA Date," which means club teams are not "required" to allow players to leave. Now, of course the Union will let Edu go. But it means leagues worldwide are not taking the weekend off. So the team is made up entirely of MLS and Mexican league players.
  • That's the long way of saying that if Jurgen Klinsmann was picking his World Cup roster tomorrow, Edu would probably not be on it.
  • That doesn't mean he can't be, however. This is Edu's big chance to show Klinsmann that he would be an asset in Brazil this summer. I imagine he'll start, or at least play a half, against Mexico. It could be argued that he's the most interesting man on the roster for an otherwise meaningless game created just to sell a lot of tickets.

Edu's call-up this week doesn't really impact the Union. But a strong performance by Edu could make a major difference for the Union this season.

MLS is taking a break for the group stage of the World Cup, but the U.S. is slated to play three warm-up games on May 27, June 1 and June 7. Add about a week before that May 27 game for training, and Edu COULD leave the team after the May 17 game against New England. That would mean no Edu for three games: at the LA Galaxy, at Chivas USA and home to Vancouver. Should the Americans get out of the group stage, Edu could miss up to three more games (at New England, at FC Dallas and home vs. Colorado).

Now, this is all a big hypothetical, and I'd have to put Edu's chances on a World Cup spot at MAYBE 50/50 at best. But, it's definitely something to keep an eye on, and a reason to watch Wednesday's game against Mexico.

As for Saturday's game against Montreal: As I said, I've been a bit preoccupied this week, and can't pretend to know a ton about the Impact. So, I offered up my tickets on Twitter to whoever could offer the best prediction. My two favorites:

Our winner, Mr. McClure, even promised to run onto the pitch from my seats, guaranteeing that I'll lose my season tickets forever, and we'll have a great "idiot on the field" video post for the 700 Level on Saturday night (just kidding, Union security!).

As for my prediction? Let's say:

Union 2, Impact 0 (McInerney, Maidana)

 

Nerlens Noel excited for impending return to game action

Nerlens Noel excited for impending return to game action

NEW ORLEANS -- The weeks and months have quickly piled up. Nerlens Noel has not played an NBA regular-season game since last season ended for the Sixers on April 13. Nearly eight months later, Noel is nearing the return he has been eyeing for quite some time now. 

“It’s always an excitement to be able to play basketball after this amount of time, including the summer, not being able to play organized basketball at a competitive level,” Noel said Thursday. “I’ve been really looking forward to this. I think I’ve gained some momentum coming back from this minor surgery, and I think I’m in a really good place and I’m feeling good with my body. Everything is on point.”

Noel has been sidelined since undergoing elective left knee surgery in October to address an inflamed plica. He traveled to New Orleans on Wednesday to join the Sixers ahead of their 99-88 win over the Pelicans (see game recap). Noel continued his rehab Thursday while the team prepped for the game. 

“I’ve been able do five-on-five, full contact,” Noel said. “I’ve tried to maximize my opportunities of that with the team being gone on the road. I came down here and went through most of shootaround and it went well. Now these next couple of days, [I will be] going through practice, still working on my wind. I do like where I’m at now.”

The Sixers’ next game is Sunday against the Pistons in Detroit. Brett Brown had given Noel’s availability for that game a “maybe” (see story)

“I’m not sure,” Noel said of playing Sunday. “I’m ready to go with these next couple of days and see how my wind feels and how my body feels, which I have been feeling good. So it’s a possibility.”

When Noel does return, there is a scenario in which he could be paired with center Joel Embiid. Last year, the Sixers struggled finding the best way to utilize Noel and Jahlil Okafor, also a center, at the same time playing the four and five positions. As Okafor has said of playing with Embiid, Noel also believes his off-the-court friendship with the towering rookie would translate onto the court. 

“I think it would be something that’s experimented,” Noel said. “It’d definitely be interesting.”

Noel candidly expressed his opinion of the Sixers’ logjammed frontcourt at the start of the season. Since speaking to the media after his surgery, Noel has mentioned he is in a good mental place (see story). For him, that means being out on the court again. 

“I love myself and I love the game of basketball,” Noel said. “When I step out here to come and play, it just brings a lot of enjoyment and excitement to me. Regardless of what the details of it are, I just love the game and I’m happy to just be playing.”

Best of NHL: Flames edge Coyotes in OT for fifth straight win

Best of NHL: Flames edge Coyotes in OT for fifth straight win

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Dougie Hamilton scored 1:09 into overtime, Chad Johnson stopped 27 shots and the Calgary Flames beat the Arizona Coyotes 2-1 on Thursday night.

Mark Giordano scored for the Flames in a chippy game filled with big hits and multiple fights.

Hamilton capped a fast-paced overtime by deking Arizona's Mike Smith with a forehand before flipping in a backhander. Calgary has won five straight and eight of 11 (8-2-1).

Max Domi scored before leaving with an upper-body injury and Smith stopped 33 shots for the Coyotes, who have lost six straight and 11 of 14 (3-7-4).

Arizona captain Shane Doan became Arizona's all-time assist leader and is the fifth player in NHL history to own his team's records for games played, goals, assists, points, game-winning goals and power-play goals (see full recap).

Crosby, Penguins roll over Panthers
SUNRISE, Fla. -- Sidney Crosby got his 18th goal and added an assist to lead the Pittsburgh Penguins over the Florida Panthers 5-1 on Thursday night.

Conor Sheary, Tom Kuhnhackl, Matt Cullen and Carl Hagelin also scored for Pittsburgh. Matt Murray made 28 saves.

The Penguins have won four straight and five of their past six.

Jaromir Jagr scored his 755th career goal, and Roberto Luongo stopped 25 shots for the Panthers. Luongo allowed three goals on Pittsburgh's first five shots.

Panthers coach Tom Rowe, who replaced Gerard Gallant on Nov. 28, made his home debut. The Panthers have lost five of six under Rowe, but managed a point in three of those losses (see full recap).

Price loses cool as Habs beat Devils
MONTREAL -- Carey Price lost his temper after being bumped twice in his crease and made 19 saves to help the Montreal Canadiens beat the New Jersey Devils 5-2 on Thursday night.

Torrey Mitchell scored twice and Phillip Danault, Artturi Lehkonen and Max Pacioretty also had goals for the Canadiens in their return from a five-game trip.

Adam Henrique scored a goal and set up one by Taylor Hall for New Jersey, which ended a two-game winning streak.

Montreal had a season-high 49 shots on Cory Schneider.

A wild first period included three goals, four goal reviews and Price's meltdown (see full recap).