Matchady 16: Union Look to Keep Momentum Going

Matchady 16: Union Look to Keep Momentum Going

The Union, fresh off of their stunning 2-1 road win over LA Galaxy, host Toronto FC this afternoon at PPL Park (4PM/6ABC). If you watched the game midweek against LA you saw what was undoubtedly a shift in the fortunes of the Union. The Galaxy thoroughly outplayed the Union for long stretches of the game. Robbie Keane could have had a hat trick in the opening 25 minutes, but it was not to be.

Finally, the Union had some luck on their side. Yes, their two goals were incredibly well-taken, but if you're being fair you'd have to say that the Union were fortunate to take the three points. Now, they return home following a cross country flight, and face a Toronto FC team who is unbeaten in their last five.

It will be interesting to see how interim Union boss John Hackworth juggles his lineup. As mentioned, they just came off a cross country flight. On top of that they will host Sporting Kansas City on Wednesday in a US Open Cup semifinal. I would imagine we'll see a few new faces out there today in light of the looming semifinal match.

Ray Gaddis is back from suspension, so he could give either Gabe Farfan or Sheanon Williams a rest. Also, Lionard Pajoy, who came off of the bench to set up Michael Farfan's game winner may get the starting nod today. One player who should be field no matter what is Jack McInereny who is in incredible form right now - form highlighted by his stunning back-heel goal against LA.

These two teams are vastly different than the ones who met in Toronto on March 26th. Both teams are rejuvenated after going through coaching changes. Paul Mariner has injected new life into the TFC team since taking over from Aron Winter. The Union have experienced a similar renaissance under Hackworth.

First kick is set for 4PM.

Penn State fan surprised with Rose Bowl tickets in heartwarming video

Penn State fan surprised with Rose Bowl tickets in heartwarming video

It's been a long road back to relevance for the Penn State football program. 

The Nittany Lions surprised just about everyone this season by finishing 10-2, winning the Big Ten title and claiming a spot in the historic Rose Bowl against USC on Jan. 2. 

For one fan, the surprise season went one step further.

Per ESPN's Instagram account ...

But wait, there's more. 

Not only was he surprised with Rose Bowl tickets in what could be the most touching video of the year, but he even got a personal call from Penn State head coach James Franklin thanking him for his support. 

Not a bad way to close out 2016. 

Matt Rhule's first Baylor hires include 4 Temple assistants

Matt Rhule's first Baylor hires include 4 Temple assistants

WACO, Texas -- New Baylor coach Matt Rhule has made some immediate Texas connections by hiring the president of the state's high school coaches who is a former Bears receiver.

Rhule announced his first five hires with the Bears on Friday, three days after being named Baylor's coach. They include four members from his staff at Temple and David Wetzel, the head coach and athletic director the past 13 seasons at Ronald Reagan High School in San Antonio.

Sean Padden will serve as Baylor's director of football operations, similar to his role at Temple the past four years.

Rhule didn't immediately announce the titles and job duties for Wetzel, Francis Brown, Mike Siravo and Evan Cooper. There was also no indication of when the rest of his staff would be completed.

Brown and Siravo were defensive assistants at Temple, and Cooper was director of player personnel for the Owls.

Wetzel, who has coached in the state high school ranks for 25 years, was serving as president of the Texas High School Football Coaches Association. He lettered at Baylor in 1990 and 1991 while playing for Grant Teaff, and also earned a master's degree from the school in 1994. Before Reagan, he was head coach at schools in Killeen and Austin.

Wetzel told the Waco Tribune-Herald that he expects to play a major role in recruiting, but didn't know yet if he'd be coaching offense or defense.

"Given the opportunity, it's really a unique deal," Wetzel told the newspaper. "I feel like it's God's timing for me to be in the right place at the right time."

When Rhule was introduced Wednesday in Waco, he said he had already received about 480 text messages, many from coaches. He also didn't rule out the possibility of some of the current Baylor assistants staying, but said he hadn't had a chance to meet with them. Those assistants were retained from former coach Art Briles' staff with Jim Grobe as acting head coach this season.

Note
Baylor announced Friday that Jalen Pitre, a defensive back from Stafford, Texas, signed a financial aid agreement that will allow him to enroll for the spring 2017 semester after graduating from high school early. Before Rhule was hired, Pitre was the only player verbally committed for Baylor's recruiting class in February. He had 83 tackles, six interceptions and four forced fumbles as a senior.