Left Back Needed - Union Trades Jordan Harvey to Vancouver

Left Back Needed - Union Trades Jordan Harvey to Vancouver

In what can only reasonably be described as a head scratching move the Union traded Jordan Harvey, their only real left back on the roster, to Vancouver in exchange for an undisclosed amount of allocation money. Harvey will be reunited with former Union player Shea Salinas, who, in another questionable move, was left unprotected in the MLS Expansion Draft.

Like many other Union observers I am left to wonder what the rationale was behind the move. If you were to build a prototypical MLS player you could do a lot worse than Harvey. What do I mean by that? Well, he's durable. He's played in 46 of 47 of the Union's league games. The lone game he missed, earlier this season against Portland, was the result of a red card suspension.

Tactically he's incredibly important. As mentioned he was the only natural left back on the roster. I suppose in a pinch you could move Keon Daniel or Gabriel Farfan back there (Farfan actually stepped in for Harvey against Portland), but I'd be terrified if either was thrust into that role on a full-time basis.

Timing-wise the trade is bizarre. The Union have conceded the fewest goals in the Eastern Conference. After a nightmarish first season in the goals against department the Union back line has been a rock. They sit just one point out of first place in the conference with two games in hand on first place New York.

You finally have a sound defense, so why not just go ahead and trade your starting left back? Odd.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly as it relates to structuring an MLS team, Harvey was incredibly cheap. Harvey was on the books for just $63,125 this season. Talk about value. By comparison, Juan Diego Gonzalez, who has not seen the field this season, is making $193,462.50.

For a team which seemingly places such high value on identifying and acquiring cheap talent the move makes little sense.

Now, with all of that being said, and considering that they have zero depth along the back line, another shoe is certain to drop in the near future. The Union may be many things, but dumb is not one of them.

There have been rumors of MLS having recently come to terms with its first African Designated Player. Could this mystery player be headed here? Is there another trade in the works?

The Union have to have something up their sleeve. What that may be is anyone's guess.

Photo Credit: philadelphiaunion.com

Jay Wright amazed by Joel Embiid's improvements since Kansas

Jay Wright amazed by Joel Embiid's improvements since Kansas

Jay Wright remembers facing Joel Embiid's Kansas team, and he's shocked by the improvements Embiid made while sitting out the last two years.

"Could you imagine not playing for two years and getting better?" Wright said Friday on TCN's Breakfast on Broad. "We played against him in college and he was not close — he was good, but not close to the player that he was at the start of this year. 

"What [the Sixers'] staff did while he was out is incredible. I don't know what other pro athlete has done that or could do that — not play and improve drastically.

"He's a unique force. We haven't seen a guy that's got this will defensively and ability defensively and then the skill level and mobility offensively. I've heard some people compare him to (Hakeem) Olajuwon. He's far more mobile than Olajuwon. Olajuwon, offensively, had his set of skills, which [Embiid] will develop. But the mobility he's got far exceeds Olajuwon. He's exciting. ... It's nice to feel this vibe with the Sixers right now."

Wright was also asked if he, as a coach, would want a player on a minutes restriction participating in the All-Star Game.

"Yeah, I would," he said. "I think that it's such an accomplishment for Joel Embiid. It would build his confidence so much to be on the floor with those guys and realize he's earned this. And to have that a part of his psyche going into the next season — 'OK, I've already been separated during the regular season with those guys, I belong with those guys.' So next year I'm thinking, 'I wanna beat these guys, I wanna be better than these guys.' 

"I think it'll be great for him. I think it's awesome ... what Brett Brown and his staff have done with this guy."

As lucky as good?
With a national championship and another No. 1 ranking this season, it would be understandable if Wright was feeling himself right about now. 'Nova is 17-1 and back atop the AP poll after a brief stint at No. 3.

National Player of the Year candidate Josh Hart is leading the way for the Wildcats with 18.8 points and 6.5 rebounds per game. A lot of Villanova's success this season is owed to Hart's decision to return for his senior year, so Wright has no issue admitting there's been some luck involved in the Wildcats' recent success.

"It's a tremendous advantage and it's really been probably the most important factor in our success the last three, four years," Wright said of 'Nova's senior leadership Friday on TCN's Breakfast on Broad.

"A lot of it is, on Villanova's side, luck. Josh Hart could have left last year. He just looked at it and kind of said, 'I could be maybe a late first-round, early [second-round pick]. I'd rather come back and get my degree.' 

"Having people that make that choice, you're lucky. If we lose him last year, we're a lot younger team this year. Daniel Ochefu the year before was faced with that decision. He stayed. 

"So when you get those guys that decide they're gonna stay, you catch a break because they're invaluable, a senior of that level. Daniel's playing in the NBA now. So we had a guy for a year that was an NBA player. And we have that with Josh this year. Kris (Jenkins) is developing into one, Darryl (Reynolds) has a chance."

Villanova, which destroyed Seton Hall 76-46 on Monday, hosts Providence Saturday at noon.

Gregg Popovich on Sixers: 'One of my joys in life to watch them win'

Gregg Popovich on Sixers: 'One of my joys in life to watch them win'

When Brett Brown agreed to become the Sixers' head coach, he knew he was embarking upon a unique challenge with a franchise that planned to be as methodical as possible in its rebuild. 

One of the results was a career record for Brown of 47-199 entering this season, a record so lopsidedly poor that Brown may never break the .500 mark.

But the Sixers are finally showing real progress, with a star in Joel Embiid and young players who are turning out to be useful pieces. The Sixers have won seven of their last nine, and there's no one happier to see that than Brown's former boss and mentor, Gregg Popovich.

"It's one of my joys in life to watch them win basketball games because if there's any team that deserves it, it's those guys," Popovich told ESPN.

Brown and the Sixers aren't out of the woods yet. At 14-26, they're still closer to the bottom of the Eastern Conference, but the entire vibe around the team has changed. 

"They've had it really tough for all the obvious reasons," said Popovich, who has been the Spurs' head coach since 1996 and worked with Brown from 2002-13.

"There's nobody in our business that is more positive, and more day-to-day upbeat and ready to teach and love than Brett Brown. He's a unique, unique guy."