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

Tonight's lineup: Has the Ryan Howard showcase come to an end?

Tonight's lineup: Has the Ryan Howard showcase come to an end?

Showcase time for Ryan Howard has apparently come to an end.

Phillies manager Pete Mackanin will go with Tommy Joseph rather than Howard at first base for Monday's series opener against Nationals right-hander Tanner Roark. It's an interesting decision because it likely means Howard will sit until at least the weekend. On Tuesday, the Phils face Max Scherzer, against whom Howard is 1 for 18 with 11 strikeouts. On Wednesday, they draw lefty Gio Gonzalez.

Howard is 1 for 10 with four strikeouts in his last three games. He was hot after the All-Star break but the Phillies were still unlikely to be able to find a suitor for him because of the scarcity of American League teams in need of a DH. With just three days before Sept. 1, it seems extremely unlikely Howard will be moved. A player is not postseason eligible unless he's on a team's roster by Aug. 31. Thus, Joseph should get more playing time in September.

Jimmy Paredes gets another start in left field after striking the ball well three times on Sunday. Paredes has been productive lately, going 10 for 27 (.370) with two doubles and two homers in his last 14 games. He could be designated for assignment by the Phils soon if they need to clear a spot to add a prospect to the 40-man roster for a September call-up.

1. Cesar Hernandez, 2B (.895 OPS in last 230 PA)
2. Odubel Herrera, CF
3. Maikel Franco, 3B
4. Tommy Joseph, 1B
5. Aaron Altherr, RF
6. Cameron Rupp, C
7. Jimmy Paredes, LF
8. Freddy Galvis, LF
9. Jake Thompson

Eagles LB Myke Tavarres will join Colin Kaepernick, won't stand for national anthem

Eagles LB Myke Tavarres will join Colin Kaepernick, won't stand for national anthem

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick made headlines last week when he refused to stand for the national anthem during a preseason game, and an Eagles linebacker fighting for a roster spot says he'll do the same in their final preseason contest.

Kaepernick decided not to stand because of the divisive and violent racial issues that have been building in America. Tavarres has taken a similar stance, telling ESPN.com's Tim McManus on Monday that he nearly followed Kaepernick's lead by sitting out the anthem in Indianapolis.

"Oh, I thought about it. Believe me, I definitely thought about it," Tavarres told ESPN. "And usually I'm front and center on the line with the rest of the guys, and that's since pre-K all the way up. Saturday's game, I stepped back, I was in the background, and it didn't feel right to me at all, and so I will be taking a stand — or sitting down — for the fourth game.

"We've got an issue in this country in this day and age, and I feel like somebody needs to step up and we all need to step up. We've got that right. There's just a lot going on that people don't want to talk about, and I feel like us as athletes, we're looked at as role models. And I feel like with Colin Kaepernick, he's doing a great job for standing up in what he believes in, and most people may not like that, but that's his opinion, he's entitled to it, and I respect him for doing it."

According to the report, Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz had players express their feelings about the topic during a meeting Monday and Tavarres was one of the players who spoke, along with team leader Malcolm Jenkins and cornerback Leodis McKelvin.

Jenkins discussed the topic with USA Today over the weekend.

"At some point, I think guys in multiple sports across the country, guys are starting to realize if we do want a change, it is something we need to get involved in at some point," Jenkins said.

“I have already done some things. I have spoken to the police commissioner of Philadelphia. We are trying to come up with some plans to do some stuff on the ground and get some work done. A lot of what is going on in the country is outrageous. I try to be careful. I ask myself what is the outcome that I want to see and how do I go about that?

"At the end of the day when it comes down to relationships of African Americans in this country right now, my entire family is black. I can sit on my stage and act like these things don’t apply to me but my two brothers, my dad, my mom, all of them are dealing with the same thing."

Tavarres, meanwhile, is not a lock to make the Eagles' final 53-man roster, but their lack of depth at backup linebacker has created an opportunity for him. Dave Zangaro had Tavarres on the practice squad in his roster projection Monday. 

"In this situation, I've really got nothing to lose," Tavarres told McManus. "I'm a rookie free agent, haven't signed any major contract, so there's not a lot of money on the line, I don't have any big endorsement deals on the line. Really what's at stake is my pride and what kind of man would I be and what kind of African-American would I be if I didn't stand my ground on this issue we have today?

"[It] needs to be done. Will there be backlash? Probably. I don't think anyone has bought my jersey yet, so I don't know if it's going to be burned, but it's a major issue and I'm definitely going to stand my ground for this one."

Sean Couturier excited to play for Team North America at World Cup after rehabbing all summer

Sean Couturier excited to play for Team North America at World Cup after rehabbing all summer

VOORHEES, N.J. -- The last time Sean Couturier played a meaningful game, he got drilled into the side boards by Washington’s Alex Ovechkin.
 
Couturier suffered an A/C sprain in his left shoulder during the second period of Game 1 against the Capitals and missed the remainder of the playoffs.
 
“Most of the summer was a lot of rehab, trying to strengthen that shoulder,” said the Flyers center, who is practicing at Skate Zone. “Now I feel good. I’m not gonna lie, it took me longer than I thought.”
 
The 23-year-old reported early. He’ll travel to Montreal on Sept. 4 for Team North America’s training camp and the upcoming World Cup of Hockey Tournament next month.
 
“I’m trying to skate as much as I can to get back in the rhythm,” Couturier said. “I think it’s going to be tough to get in the rhythm right away. We’re not used to playing that high level hockey in September, but every guy on every team is going to be like that.
 
“Once we get out there, the level is going to be pretty high right off the bat. I think it can help me personally be ready for the season and step right into game action.”

Eight Flyers will participate in the eight-team competition. The others: Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, Claude Giroux, Shayne Gostisbehere, Mark Streit, Radko Gudas, Jakub Voracek and Michal Neuvirth.
 
Team North America is comprised of age 23-and-under players.
 
“I don’t really listen too much to the hype and stuff in the summer, but we can definitely surprise some people,” Couturier predicted. “I don’t think there’s much attention for our team. Really no one knows what we’re gonna look like.
 
“We’re gonna try and surprise the world, basically and try to win the tournament. We’re not going there as tourists. We feel we have a good group and a lot of skill and speed and we’ll surprise some teams for sure.”
 
Couturier is a perfect North American because he has dual citizenship – U.S. and Canada. Though born in Phoenix, he spent nearly his entire childhood in Canada.
 
“For me, I’m dual citizenship, so that’s the way I see it,” Couturier said of playing favorites. “It’s a little different, but at the same time the mindset is more about trying to win the tournament. Once you’re out there and on a team you’re just trying to win and I think that’s what we’re looking forward to.”
 
This tournament offers Couturier a chance to test his shoulder competitively before pre-season NHL games start.
 
Obviously, the Flyers will open camp here without some of their best players.
 
“Everyone’s had a long summer, so I think everyone’s kind of looking forward to getting back into action,” Couturier said. “We’re lucky. We’re fortunate to get back into action earlier than we usually do. I’m just happy to be part of it and live the experience.
 
“I know a little what to expect international-wise – I went to the Worlds two years ago. This is going to be high level. No easy games.”
 
Loose pucks
Ten players, including Gostisbehere and free agent Russian forward Roman Lyubimov, who was signed in July, are also working out at Skate Zone, which is under major reconstruction. … Because of construction, the Phantoms dressing room no longer exists. The Flyers have a logistics problem of where the majority of their players are going to dress during camp. ... Construction won’t be completed until sometime this fall. … As part of the club’s 50th anniversary celebration, the Flyers have decorated walls throughout their dressing room area with steel plates from old newspaper pages, and other media, commemorating their two Stanley Cups plus other historic moments from the past. … Brayden Schenn, who will miss the first three games of the regular season on a suspension, will play in preseason.