Le Toux Needs to Step Up as Union Host Chivas USA

Le Toux Needs to Step Up as Union Host Chivas USA

Perspective is an interesting thing. If you look at things from a glass half full perspective then you're probably pleased that the Union have lost just one of their last five matches. If you're a glass half empty kind of person then you are probably a bit concerned that the Union have only won one of their last five matches.

It's difficult to really get a handle on the Union's 1-1-3 record over the last five games. They play well, create chances, and don't score. They also don't play well, don't create chances, and don't score. Tonight they look to play well, create chances, score, and pick up a much needed three points as they host Chivas USA (8PM/ABC) at PPL Park

Ever since their stunning six goal outburst against Toronto on May 28th they've gone on to score 1, 1, 0, and 0 goals over their last four games. Their inability to find consistent scoring is nothing new.

Peter Nowak took extreme measures in his attempt to jump-start the offense last week when he started Sebastien Le Toux, Justin Mapp, Veljko Paunovic, Jack McInerney, and Carlos Ruiz. Who knows, had Danny Mwanga been healthy he may have found himself out there as well. His roll of the dice resulted in exactly zero goals.

The most troubling part of the offensive ineptitude is not their lack of chances, but their inability to finish. Le Toux has consistently been the biggest culprit. Considering his work rate it's tough to criticize the guy, but the reality is he needs to start converting his chances.

To be fair it was probably unrealistic to think he'd duplicate his breakout 14 goal, 11 assist performance from last season. However, the fact that he's scored as many goals as Danny Califf this season is a major problem. I mean, at least Califf's goal was from the run of play. Le Toux's lone goal was from the penalty spot back on April 30th against San Jose.

It's at the point now where there's not a whole lot Nowak can do lineup-wise. The only suggestion I'd have is (and this is assuming he's fully fit) to let Mwanga start and play the full 90 minutes.

He's the lone option they have up top who if need be can win a foot race, shoulder his man off the ball, hold up play, or beat his man 1 v. 1. In other words he's their most complete goal scoring threat. He's listed as "probable" for tonight. Here's hoping he gets the starting nod.

Chivas USA comes to town as the eighth place team in the Western Conference with 17 points from 15 games. They'll be without a familiar face, former Union player Alejandro Moreno, who is on international duty with Venezuela at the Copa America. Based on his performance for the Union last season you wouldn't think Moreno's absence would be a big deal. You'd be wrong. Moreno is tied with three other players for the team lead in goals with three.

In Moreno's absence the goal scoring load will fall to Justin Braun, Marcos Mondaini, and Nick LaBrocca. The matchup between the 6'3" Braun and the middle of the Union back four will be a must watch.

Defensively they'll be without longtime US international Jimmy Conrad, who is out with a concussion. Another former US international, Heath Pearce (and his much beloved mustache), will be responsible for organizing and leading the Goats back line.

The Union currently sit in first place - tied with the New York Red Bulls. They'll need to pick up points, particularly at home, before New York welcomes back Tim Ream, Rafa Marquez, and Juan Agudelo from the Gold Cup.

Here’s the lineup I hope we see today: Mondragon, Harvey, Valdes, Califf, Williams, Mapp, Okugo, Carroll, Le Toux, McInerney, Mwanga.

Final Score Prediction: This will be their third game in a week, so it may be tough to muster up the necessary energy, but they need to play desperate here. I'll say the Union win it 1-0.

The Toni Stahl Memorial Union Player Most Likely To See Red: Califf, who is going to be climbing up Braun's back all night.

Photo Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin, US Presswire

Rick MacLeish's Flyers teammates react to his passing

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Associated Press

Rick MacLeish's Flyers teammates react to his passing

PITTSBURGH -- Former Flyers captain and Hockey Hall of Famer Bob Clarke was Rick MacLeish’s teammate for 12 years and two Stanley Cups.
 
“Ricky was the most talented player the Flyers had during the 1970s,” said a saddened Clarke on Tuesday, after the announcement of MacLeish’s death at 66 late on Memorial Day (see story).
 
“Life after hockey wasn’t fair to Ricky. He left us far too soon.”
 
The center from Lindsay, Ontario, had been hospitalized in Philadelphia since mid-May while suffering from multiple medical issues, according to his daughter Brianna.
 
Here’s what other teammates had to say:
 
“Ricky was a special player for the Flyers,” said Bill Barber. “He always came up with scoring the big goals and he was instrumental helping us win two Stanley Cups. He will be greatly missed.”
 
Gary Dornhoefer was MacLeish's linemate with Ross Lonsberry for almost six seasons.
 
“I’ll tell you what, he was probably the fastest player on the ice,” Dornhoefer said. “As far as a wrist shot is concerned, there was no one better at getting that shot away and accurate. Ross and I would talk and say ‘let’s just give Ricky the puck and he’ll put it in.’
 
“If you look at the amount of goals he scored [328 as a Flyer], well, that’s why we kept giving him the puck. Ross and I had cement hands, so we’d pass the puck to him. The Flyers could have a mediocre game, but because of his skills as a player and the athlete that he was, he could carry us.
 
“He was that gifted. I always felt that during the years he played, he never got the recognition that he properly deserved. He was that good. It saddens me that he was such a young man and is no longer with us. That really hurts.”
 
Bob “The Hound” Kelly agreed.
 
“Rick was probably the most gifted, natural centerman that the Flyers have ever had,” Kelly said. “He was a tough kid who skated and worked hard.
 
“Although he played in the shadow of Clarkie, he was every bit as good as Clarkie. Clarkie was more of a natural leader where Rick was just quiet and simply went out there and played his heart out. He was a great guy and it is very sad that we had to lose him at such an early age.”
 
Joe Watson made a few comparisons.
 
“I’d put him up there with [Claude] Giroux, [Eric] Lindros and [Peter] Forsberg in terms of natural skill,” Watson said. “He was a great player and we’ll certainly miss him.”

Joel Embiid is ready to woo free agent superstar Kevin Durant to Sixers

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Joel Embiid is ready to woo free agent superstar Kevin Durant to Sixers

Now that Joel Embiid is #FinallyHealthy -- at least according to himself on his Instagram page -- and OKC Thunder superstar Kevin Durant's season has come to an end, it's time for Embiid to get to recruiting.

Durant potentially jumping to a new team could be franchise changing, both for the new destination and the KD-less Thunder. Embiid knows this, so he's going to do his best to recruit Durant to come play in Philadelphia for the 76ers.

Okay, maybe not that exactly, but Embiid will certainly at least send some goofy tweets about it.

"Time to recruit KD to the Sixers," Embiid tweeted late last night once the Warriors ended the Thunder's season. The words were followed by a couple of praying hands emojis.

Sixers fans likely remember Embiid's attempted wooing of LeBron James a couple of summers ago when he eventually opted to head back to Cleveland instead of Miami. Embiid attempted a similar wooing tactic back then and it didn't go so well. But at least Embiid thought he was pretty close.

Right. And Embiid almost got engaged to Kim Kardashian (while she was already married with children to Kanye).

Now, if you want to get pedantic, could Embiid's tweets be viewed as tampering? Since NBA free agency doesn't technically begin until July 1? I suppose it's possible if the NBA has no sense of humor.

I think the real takeaway from all of Embiid's Tweets and Instagram posts is that the big man is in good spirits, hopefully because he sees real progress in his health and will actually play competitive basketball for the Sixers someday.

NBA draft profile: Oklahoma G Buddy Hield

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NBA draft profile: Oklahoma G Buddy Hield

Buddy Hield

Position: Guard

Height: 6-foot-4

Weight: 214 pounds

School: Oklahoma

It seems rare these days for juniors considering the NBA draft to return to school. It's even more unique for those players to take a leap from likely draft picks to lottery locks.

But that's exactly what Buddy Hield did during his dazzling senior season at Oklahoma. The guard demanded the country's attention as he shot his way to 25.0 points per game (second in the nation) and helped the Sooners reach the Final Four as he racked up both the prestigious Wooden and Naismith Awards in the process.

While the scoring was certainly worthy of praise, Hield's efficiency was even more impressive. Despite attempting career highs in field goals (16.2), three-pointers (8.7) and free throws per game (5.4), the sharpshooter increased his percentages across the board. Hield connected on 50.1 percent from the field, 45.7 percent from three-point range and 88.0 percent from the line.

Even though Hield capped off his decorated career with a dud in Oklahoma's Final Four loss to eventual national champion Villanova (nine points on 4 of 12 shooting), he proved throughout the course of the season that his ceiling is higher than expected and that he belongs among the top tier of this year's draft class.

Strengths
All of those days practicing on a milk crate back in the Bahamas paid off because Hield can flat-out shoot the ball. His 147 threes led the nation last season and were tied for the most by any college player since some guy named Stephen Curry drained 162 in 2008.

But Hield isn't just a standstill shooter by any means. Yes, he can catch and shoot, but he also has the ability to fire off screens, pull up off the dribble and get to the rim at times.

Hield also showed he wasn't afraid to stick his nose into the trees by pulling down 5.7 rebounds per game a season ago and 4.9 a night during his time at Oklahoma.

Weaknesses
There is some concern about whether Hield will be able to get that silky shot off the way he wants to at the next level. His jumper does have a lower release point than usual, and at 6-foot-4, he won't be able to just rise up to shoot over smaller defenders in the NBA. That means to get open he will have to rely more on his ball handling, which could use some work and helped lend itself to Hield's 3.1 turnovers per game as a senior. Hield will also have to improve his defense, which has never been a strong suit.

How he'd fit with the Sixers
Seamlessly. In case you haven't heard, the Sixers can use all of the outside shooting help they can get. With so many big bodies doing their work down in the paint, Hield would be able to spot up for one open jumper after another.

However, with the two perceived transcendent talents at the top of the draft, the only way we would be able to see how Hield looks in a Sixers jersey would be if Bryan Colangelo pulls the trigger on a trade to acquire another high draft pick.

NBA comparison
Sure, Hield's game has some similarities to Curry and he received a co-sign from Kobe Bryant during the NCAA Tournament, but let's not get too carried away. A more accurate comparison would be Portland guard and Lehigh product C.J. McCollum. Like McCollum, Hield is a natural shooter who can score from just about anywhere on the floor. Hield also has the drive to get even better, just like McCollum, who walked away with the NBA's Most Improved Player Award this season.

Draft projection
Hield is an early- to mid-lottery selection. Look for him to go somewhere between the fifth and ninth picks.