Matchday 12: The Hackworth Era Begins

Matchday 12: The Hackworth Era Begins

It's a new beginning for the Philadelphia Union as the John Hackworth (interim?) era starts today at PPL Park against first-place D.C. United (7PM, Comcast Sportsnet/Galavision). After parting ways with Peter Nowak midweek the Union return to MLS play for the first time since May 26th. 
Dating back to the Sebastien Le Toux trade it has been a tumultuous last five months for the third-year franchise. Consider that in that time they've traded their most popular player (Le Toux), parted ways with two former captains (releasing Faryd Mondragon so he could return to Colombia and trading Danny Califf), traded their first ever draft pick (former first overall selection Danny Mwanga) and parted ways/fired/broke up with manager Peter Nowak. Oh yeah, and they're 2-7-2 and sit in ninth place in the ten team MLS Eastern Conference.
Say what you will about the off-the-field moves, but the fact remains that the Union have been a terribly painful team to watch thus far. Their offensive philosophy seems to consist of completely bypassing the midfield and playing long hopeful balls into space for Lionard Pajoy (who is suspended tonight). They've played well enough defensively, conceding the third fewest goals in the conference, but they remain vulnerable on set pieces.
Speaking of set pieces, the Union will have their hands full today with D.C. United who have scored three goals from corner kicks and two from free kicks so far this season. Branko Boskovic is the trigger man on set pieces. Assuming he plays, he's listed as probable with an abductor strain, his service will present a huge challenge for the Union back four. 
Another massive challenge for the U? Trying to handle reining MVP Dwayne De Rosario. D-Ro leads MLS with eight assists and is tied for seventh in goals with five. Oh, and he was the MLS Player of the Month for May, so he's in good form. As if that weren't enough, Maicon Santos is the fifth leading scorer in the league, scoring 10 goals in 13 games.
So what can John Hackworth do to counter a streaking D.C. United team that is on a three-game winning streak? Your guess is as good as mine. He stated during his introductory press conference that “There will be some changes and some new faces out there". Who could he be referring to? Will we see Jorge Perlaza, who was aquired in exchange for Danny Mwanga, get a start along the front line? Will Josue Martinez get an opportunity to shine with Pajoy suspended?
Hackworth should have goalkeeper Zac MacMath back between the sticks as he returns from concussion symptoms. He'll continue to wear the very Petr Cech-style padded helmet, but he should return tonight.
No matter what Hackworth does with his formation or changes he makes to his lineup the hard truth is that this team has no identity, no style and little margin for error. Yes, we're only at the 1/3rd point of the season, but it's getting late early.
Photo: philadelphiaunion.com

Sixers waive Carl Landry, Tibor Pleiss; officially sign Cat Barber

Sixers waive Carl Landry, Tibor Pleiss; officially sign Cat Barber

The Sixers made some roster tweaks on Wednesday night.

The team waived forward Carl Landry and center Tibor Pleiss, while officially announcing the signing of guard Anthony "Cat" Barber.

The Sixers were expected to cut Pleiss, who was acquired last Friday in a trade with the Jazz. On July 21, Barber and the Sixers reportedly agreed to a partially guaranteed deal.

Landy, a 32-year-old veteran, played one season with the Sixers after being acquired last summer in a trade with the Kings, a deal in which he was essentially a toss-in as it revolved around bringing Nik Stauskas to Philadelphia. Landry, who was under contract for 2016-17 at $6.75 million, battled injury to start 2015-16 and ended up playing in 36 games (12 starts), averaging 9.8 points and 4.1 rebounds per game.

Barber, 6-foot-3, 173 pounds, will fight for a roster spot at point guard during training camp. The 22-year-old went undrafted in June after declaring following his junior season at NC State in which he averaged 23.5 points per game, seventh most in the country and best in the ACC.

Ben Simmons working out with LeBron James

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Ben Simmons working out with LeBron James

Ben Simmons' fellow NBA rookies may not think too highly of him, but when the best basketball player on the planet is giving him pointers, he must be doing something right.

On Tuesday, a photo of Simmons and LeBron James dribbling side by side started making the rounds on Instagram. That's right. The Sixers' number-one overall draft pick and franchise savior is apparently training with the four-time league MVP and reigning world champion.

#Klutch @klutchsports

A photo posted by Ben Simmons (@bensimmons) on

Those workouts continued on Wednesday, when 12-time All-Star Dwayne Wade posted a photo of himself, Simmons and James, as well as Richard Jefferson and Jordan McRae. That's some good company for a first-year player to keep.

Good day of work!

A photo posted by dwyanewade (@dwyanewade) on

What does all of this mean for Simmons and the Sixers? Hard to say, but it can't be a bad thing that the rookie point-forward is spending time with a pair of future first-ballot Hall of Famers. Surely he must be learning something.

That's good news for the Sixers, who hope that Simmons can even come close to living up to the lofty comparisons some have drawn to James already.

Tonight's Lineup: Tommy Joseph starts for 1st time against Gio Gonzalez

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Tonight's Lineup: Tommy Joseph starts for 1st time against Gio Gonzalez

Tommy Joseph is back in the starting lineup … as he's expected to be for most of the final month of the season. Joseph bats fourth behind third baseman Maikel Franco.

Joseph did not start Tuesday night in the Phillies' 3-2 loss to the Washington Nationals. The 25-year-old is hitting .251 with 17 home runs and 34 RBIs.

The slugger has a significantly higher average against left-handed pitching than righties, despite clubbing 12 of his 17 homers against right-handed pitchers.

Joseph has yet to faced Nationals starter Gio Gonzalez.

In other lineup notes, Tyler Goeddel gets the start in left field and will hit eighth, while A.J. Ellis gets his second start as a Phillie. He'll catch Adam Morgan.

Here is the full lineup:

1. Cesar Hernandez, 2B
2. Odubel Herrera, CF
3. Maikel Franco, 3B
4. Tommy Joseph, 1B
5. Aaron Altherr, RF
6. Freddy Galvis, SS
7. A.J. Ellis, C
8. Tyler Goeddel, LF
9. Adam Morgan, P

For more on tonight's game, read Steven Tydings' game notes.