Matchday 17: What Do You Mean By Impact?

Matchday 17: What Do You Mean By Impact?

The Union will look to make it three league wins in a row tonight as they host the expansion Montreal Impact at PPL Park (7PM/Comcast SportsNet). It's been a busy last couple of weeks for the Union, who will be playing their fourth game in 11 days. They're coming off of Wednesday night's 2-0 loss to Sporting Kansas City in the semifinals of the US Open Cup.

The 2-0 loss marked the first time the Union had been held off of the scoresheet since losing 1-0 to D.C. United back on June 16th. By and large the Union have been revitalized offensively under interim manager John Hackworth. Inserting Jack McInereny into the starting lineup has had a profound effect on their goalscoring fortunes. Also, Antoine Hoppenot has been a revelation coming in off the bench at the 60 minute mark.

Hoppenot has created a role for himself not unlike Vinny "The Microwave" Johnson did for the Bad Boy era Detroit Pistons in terms of bringing instant offense. Hoppenot is completely unafraid. Upon entering the game he sprints from the touchline to top of the 4-3-3 and proceeds to relentlessly run at and by opposing defenders.

It's also no coincidence that the Union are winning and both Freddy Adu and Michael Farfan are playing their best soccer of the season. You are finally starting to see some consistency out of Adu, who just toys with people when he's fully engaged in the match. Michael Farfan, although considerably less flashy, brings a unique blend of skill and work rate. Adu, who is deployed on the left, and Farfan, who is deployed on the right, bring a balance to the field and make it difficult for opposing defenses to shade their backline to one side.

Montreal is coming off of a 2-1 win over Columbus last week. The big story out of Montreal is their signing of World Cup winner and former AC Milan stalwart Alessandro Nesta. Fortunately for the the Union, but unfortunately for fans going to the game tonight, Nesta is not yet fit and will not make his MLS debut this evening. The Impact need all the help they can get along the backline as they've conceded a league-worst 36 goals thus far.

One face Union fans will recognize and likely see tonight is former Union player Justin Mapp, who was selected by the Impact in the expansion draft. Mapp has appeared in 16 games for Montreal, scoring two goals and adding two assists. The left-footed Mapp was maddeningly inconsistent when he wore the blue and gold. You never knew what to expect from him from game to game. He could light up a keeper with a stunning shot from 30 yards out or he could just as easily be completely invisible for 90 minutes.

Montreal brings a few other familiar names with them including former LA Galaxy goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts, MLS veteran Davy Arnaud and yet another former Union player - Shavar Thomas. Recently signed designated player Marco Di Vaio, who has appeared in four games since joining the Impact, picked up his first assist last week. The Union centerback pairing of Carlos Valdes and Amobi Okugo will have to be aware of Di Vaio at all times.

Considering the compressed schedule they've dealt over the lat two weeks, it may be asking a bit much to expect the Union to play with as much energy as they have since Hackworth took over. The interim manager has basically kept the same lineup since taking over save for rotating Gabriel Gomez and Michael Lahoud. However, their newly found confidence should be enough to pick up the three points against Montreal.

I'll say this one ends 3-1 Union.

Best of NHL: Penguins beat Panthers in Sidney Crosby's debut

Best of NHL: Penguins beat Panthers in Sidney Crosby's debut

PITTSBURGH -- Sidney Crosby scored in his season debut as the Pittsburgh Penguins rallied to beat the Florida Panthers 3-2 on Tuesday night.

Crosby, who scored on a power play, missed the team's first six games with a concussion. Carl Hagelin and Eric Fehr also scored for the Penguins, who extended a seven-game unbeaten streak against the Panthers.

Marc-Andre Fleury, who has started the first seven games of the season for Pittsburgh, stopped 20 shots. Matt Murray, who backstopped the Penguins to a Stanley Cup in June, served as the backup to Fleury after missing the first six games with a broken hand.

Reilly Smith scored a power-play goal and Mark Pysyk also scored for the Panthers, who have lost 11 of 12 against the Penguins in Pittsburgh.

James Reimer made 19 saves in his second start of the season (see full recap).

Kings top Blue Jackets in overtime
LOS ANGELES -- Alec Martinez scored 1:14 into overtime, and the Los Angeles Kings rallied to beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-2 Tuesday night for their third straight victory.

Drew Doughty scored the tying goal with 5:57 left in regulation for the Kings, who won their third straight overtime game after an 0-3-0 start to the season. Captain Anze Kopitar also scored, and third-string goalie Peter Budaj stopped 19 shots in his third consecutive win.

Cam Atkinson scored a tiebreaking power-play goal late in the second period, and Sergei Bobrovsky made 27 saves for Columbus. Brandon Saad also scored for the Jackets, who had won two straight after an 0-2-0 start.

Martinez ended it by putting a rebound into an open net for the defenseman's second goal of the season (see full recap).

Lightning strike for seven goals in win
TORONTO -- Steven Stamkos matched a career-high with four points -- two goals and two assists -- and the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 7-3 on Tuesday night.

Frederik Andersen gave up seven goals on only 24 shots, the third time in five starts he has allowed at least five goals and fourth time he's allowed four or more. The 27-year-old has an .851 save percentage so far this season.

Alex Killorn, Victor Hedman, Nikita Kucherov, Vladislav Namestnikov and Jonathan Drouin added goals for Tampa Bay, while Ben Bishop made 40 saves.

William Nylander, James van Riemsdyk and Auston Matthews scored for the Maple Leafs, who outshot the Lightning 43-24 (see full recap).

Report: Eagles make inquiry about Bears WR Alshon Jeffery

Report: Eagles make inquiry about Bears WR Alshon Jeffery

The Eagles could be looking for a bigger name outside.

In need of a deep threat — and reportedly in talks about a trade for 49ers wideout Torrey Smith — the Eagles are interested in Bears wide receiver Alshon Jeffery and attempting to make a move for the 2013 Pro Bowler, according to a report Tuesday night by Benjamin Allbright of Mile High Sports Radio.

We followed up with Allbright, who clarified the Eagles simply made an inquiry.

Jeffery, much more of a do-it-all, dynamic wide receiver than the one-dimensional Smith, is 26 years old and can become a free agent at season's end. He'll warrant good money, but would make the Eagles better in more ways than one compared to Smith.

The 6-foot-3, 218-pounder put up 89 catches for 1,421 yards and seven touchdowns in 2013, followed by 85 catches, 1,133 yards receiving and 10 scores in 2014.

This season, he has 520 yards receiving and has yet to find the end zone playing for the quarterback-challenged Bears, who are 1-6 and more than likely thinking about next season.