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

Eagles-Redskins predictions by our (cough) experts

Eagles-Redskins predictions by our (cough) experts

The Eagles (5-7) come into Sunday's game against the Redskins (6-5-1) on a three-game losing streak.

The Redskins exposed the Eagles' defense the last time these two teams met almost two months ago on Oct. 16.

Here are our (cough) expert predictions for this Week 14 matchup.

Dave Zangaro (4-8)
After losing three straight games, I couldn't pick the Eagles against just about any team in the NFL. Maybe Cleveland. Maybe Chicago. 

But against Washington? Nah. Can't do it. 

Sure, I know Washington comes into the Linc on a two-game losing streak, and they're clearly not a top team in the NFC. It just doesn't matter. Kirk Cousins is a decent quarterback and Washington clearly has enough weapons to shred the Eagles like they did for 493 yards in the first meeting. 

For the Eagles' offense, Carson Wentz hasn't looked good in a long time and this week he enters with a few of his skill position players banged up. 

This looks like another loss to me. 

Washington 26, Eagles 20

Derrick Gunn (5-7)
The Eagles are an embarrassed, desperate team, and a win over the Redskins could lift the weight of what has been a downward spiral. Ryan Mathews and Jordan Matthews returned to practice this week, but can they jolt this offense back to life? Carson Wentz has played like a rookie the last three games, and the once stout defense has crumbled.

So here come the Redskins, losers of two in a row but still very much in the playoff conversation. The Redskins' defense is beat up and could be missing several key players, but unfortunately for the Eagles, Washington's offensive weapons are relatively healthy, except for tight end Jordan Reed, who's listed as questionable with an AC joint sprain. Matt Jones and Robert Kelley pack a punch out of the backfield. 

Quarterback Kirk Cousins has been in a zone. Over their last six games, Cousins has averaged 352.6 passing yards, plus he's thrown 12 touchdown passes and only two interceptions. 

The Eagles remember what Washington did to them back in Week 6, but I feel their revenge motives will fall short.

Redskins 27, Eagles 17

Ray Didinger (5-7) 
With all the talk this week about effort and players dogging it, I fully expect the Eagles to come out focused and fired up at home Sunday. Here's the problem: I just don't know if they are good enough to win the game. Motivation is one thing, but talent is another and right now, the Eagles are lacking in that area.
 
The players have been called out by their coach, by the media and by the fans so if they have any pride at all they will come out and play hard against the Redskins but I look at the matchup of this Eagles' secondary against the Washington receivers — especially a hot DeSean Jackson (25.3 yards per catch the last three games) — and I don't see a happy result.
 
Redskins 24, Eagles 17

Andrew Kulp (6-6)
Not sure if the Eagles really are in freefall mode or if they've simply been unable to overcome injuries while facing some better than advertised opponents. Either way, they have plenty to play for, because Washington has been embarrassing them for awhile now. With Jordan Matthews back and against a less than stellar D, I predict an end to the losing streak, so long as they finally come up with an answer for Kirk Cousins.

Eagles 26, Redskins 24

Corey Seidman (5-7)
Close game, better performance from Carson Wentz and an awakening in the run game, but not enough defensive talent to shut down what Washington will try to do deep with DeSean Jackson and Jamison Crowder, over the middle with Jordan Reed and short with Pierre Garcon.

Redskins 31, Eagles 27

Andy Schwartz (5-7)
It's simply come to this. I can't pick the Eagles to win a game the rest of the season until they do.

I want to think the offense will benefit from the return of Ryan Mathews and Jordan Matthews. And I want to think the defense will play with desperation and break out of its "slump" and make some big plays.

But I won't believe it until I see it.

Redskins 24, Eagles 16

Shayne Gostisbehere suffers bone bruise on right hand in win over Stars

Shayne Gostisbehere suffers bone bruise on right hand in win over Stars

Flyers defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere took a shot off his right hand in the second period Saturday and has a bone bruise. 
 
The Flyers will watch it because sometimes the swelling prevents wearing a glove comfortably the next day.
 
Ghost, who has five points – all assists – over his past six games, was hit with a puck in the second period of a 4-2 win over the Stars. He went to the bench and tried to shake it off, but left for the dressing room shortly after a Flyers power play began in the period’s final three minutes.
 
He participated for part of the power play, then left the ice and did not return until the start of the third period.
 
“It was good by then,” he said. “Obviously, it hurt a bit.”
 
The Flyers play in Detroit on Sunday night. 
 
Ghost has 16 points (four goals) in 29 games this season. X-rays were negative, he said, adding he was not worried about the hand, which was badly swollen after the game.