Matchday 20: Bienvenue Montral

Matchday 20: Bienvenue Montral

The Union will be north of the border this evening as they face the Montreal Impact at Stade Saputo (7:30PM/The Comcast Network). The two teams met just three weeks ago at PPL Park. Union captain Carlos Valdes scored a stoppage time winner to propel the U to a 2-1 win.

The Impact are fresh off of a 3-1 home win over New York Red Bulls. The game marked a couple of firsts for the expansion Impact. Former AC Milan man and World Cup winner Alessandro Nesta made his MLS debut. Marco Di Vaio, the Impact's first designated player signing, opened his MLS account against NYRB. 
Di Vaio, who made several dangerous runs against the Union when the teams faced off at PPL Park in July, will not play. He had to return to Italy as part of the ongoing match-fixing scandal...

Nesta was one of three changes along Impact manager Jesse Marsch's back four against NYRB. Nelson Rivas and Jeb Brovsky joined Nesta along Montreal's shuffled back line. Rivas and Brovsky replaced former Union player Shavar Thomas and Lancaster native Zarek Valentin.

The Impact sit five points ahead of the eighth place Union in the MLS table. However, Montreal has played five more games than Philadelphia. In fact, the Union, along with Columbus, have played the fewest games of any Eastern Conference team (19). Amazingly, considering all of the drama surrounding the Union at the start of the season the playoffs remain a possibility.

One player who could bolster their playoff chances is Bakary Soumare, who may make his Union debut tonight. Soumare, who is listed as probable on the MLS injury report, is not a given to start ahead of Amobi Okugo along the backline. Okugo has been fantastic alongside Carlos Valdes in the middle of the Union defense. I don't know how interim manager John Hackworth can take Okugo off the field, but Soumare was not signed to sit on the bench.

Granted, Soumare is coming off of a knee injury and is not match fit, so Hackworth can slowly ease him into the lineup. He'll have an interesting decision to make once Soumare is fully fit. What would I do? I wouldn't mind seeing Okugo shift back to his more natural central midfield role. Between Brian Carroll, Carlos Gomez, Michael Lahoud and Okugo you've got options, but I don't know how you can sit Okugo.

One player who perhaps should return to the bench is Antoine Hoppenot. I don't say that as a knock against Hoppenot, who has been a revelation since Hackworth took over, I just think the Union tend to play too direct when he's in the lineup. At this point in his career I prefer him as a 60th minute substitution who can just run at people for 30 minutes.

Regardless of who starts the Union need to do a better job away from home. They are just 2-6-1 on the road this season with a -6 goal differential. If they hope to make a push for the playoffs they'll need to start earning results on the road.

I see them earning a point tonight with a 1-1 draw.

The Philly fan who gave Russell Westbrook double bird said he was called fat

The Philly fan who gave Russell Westbrook double bird said he was called fat

Philly fans have a bad reputation. This isn't going to change anytime soon.

Regardless of which side of the Philly fan debate you fall, you'd probably agree fans shouldn't give the double bird mere feet from the athletes who are playing in front of them.

You've almost assuredly seen it by now, the image and footage of a Sixers fan flipping off Russell Westbrook last night in the highly-anticipated season debut. He was subsequently removed from his seats by security.

The New York Post got to the bottom of it all and even tracked down the fan's response on Facebook:

Dr. Richard Harkaway, a Philadelphia urologist who is originally from Long Island, wrote that it was Westbrook who initiated the confrontation, which ended with Harkaway being tossed from the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia during the 76ers’ season-opening loss.

“To all my FB friends who are seeing a picture of me on the Internet giving the finger to Russell Westbrook. Actually two fingers,’’ Harkaway wrote in a private post. “Not as simple as it seems. I love to scream at the players and anyone who has been to a game with me knows this. Part of my charm. What you may not have seen on any of the video clips is what started the whole thing, which was Russell Westbrook saying ‘sit down f—ing fat boy’ when I stood up to boo.”

Do two wrongs make a right? Probably not. Being rude is being rude.

Do you think this fan's actions were justified after reading his response on Facebook?

Freddy Galvis, Odubel Herrera Gold Glove finalists at SS, CF

Freddy Galvis, Odubel Herrera Gold Glove finalists at SS, CF

Two Phillies are in the running for a 2016 Rawlings Gold Glove.

Shortstop Freddy Galvis and centerfielder Odubel Herrera were named National League finalists at their position on Thursday. Winners will be announced on Nov. 9. Galvis and Herrera are both finalists for the first time.

Galvis joins San Francisco’s Brandon Crawford, a Gold Glove winner in 2015, and the Chicago Cubs’ Addison Russell as finalists at shortstop.

Herrera is a finalist in center field along with Cincinnati’s Billy Hamilton and Atlanta’s Ender Inciarte.

Galvis, who turns 27 in November, committed himself to improving his defense after making 17 errors in 2015 and he did that with a career season in the field in 2016. He led all NL shortstops with a .987 fielding percentage and made just eight errors in 625 total chances while earning praise from Phillies’ infield guru Larry Bowa.

Galvis led the NL with 153 starts at shortstop and had errorless streaks of 51 and 44 games. At the plate, he reached career highs in doubles (26), homers (20), extra-base hits (49) and RBIs (67). On the down side, Galvis hit just .241 and his .274 on-base percentage was the worst in the majors.

Herrera, who turns 25 in December, began his career as an infielder in the Texas system and completed just his second season in the outfield in 2016. His credentials for a Gold Glove are not nearly as good as Galvis’. Herrera’s nine errors were the second-most among major-league outfielders, but he had 11 assists, fourth-most among NL outfielders.

The Phillies selected Herrera in the Rule 5 draft in 2014. They selected Inciarte in the Rule 5 draft in 2012 and he opened the 2013 season on the Phils’ roster, but was shipped back to his original club, Arizona, during the first week of that season.