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.

Buccaneers promote former Eagles WR Josh Huff to active roster

Buccaneers promote former Eagles WR Josh Huff to active roster

Josh Huff is back on an NFL active roster.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are calling the wide receiver up from their practice squad to their 53-man roster. The Eagles released Huff just over a month ago following his arrest for unlawful possession of a firearm. 

The 25-year-old Huff was originally a third round pick by the Eagles in 2014. He made 48 receptions for 482 yards and four touchdowns over three seasons. He excelled on special teams, returning two kicks for touchdowns. One of those kick returns came in his penultimate game with the Eagles, a 21-10 win over the Vikings on Oct. 23. 

Huff replaces Cecil Shorts III for the Buccaneers after Shorts suffered a season-ending knee injury on Sunday in San Diego.

Meanwhile, the Eagles have filled Huff's role in the offense with rookie receivers Bryce Treggs and Paul Turner. 

MLB Notes: Red Sox acquire ace LHP Chris Sale from White Sox

MLB Notes: Red Sox acquire ace LHP Chris Sale from White Sox

OXON HILL, Md. -- All-Star ace Chris Sale is joining the reloading Boston Red Sox, leaving behind his shredded reputation with the Chicago White Sox.

Boston acquired Sale on Tuesday for a package of four prospects, including high-priced Yoan Moncada.

Sale was a top trade target at the winter meetings and the AL East champion Red Sox were getting him instead of Washington, which also pursued.

A few hours earlier, Boston got prime setup man Tyler Thornburg from Milwaukee. After that deal was announced, without tipping his hand, Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said: "We're trying to win now, as you can see."

Boston acquired Sale for minor league pitchers Michael Kopech and Victor Diaz, outfielder Luis Basabe and Moncada, a third baseman (see full story).

Red Sox get setup man Thornburg from Brewers for INF Shaw
OXON HILL, Md. -- The Boston Red Sox have gotten the setup man they wanted, acquiring right-hander Tyler Thornburg from the Milwaukee Brewers in a package that included infielder Travis Shaw.

The deal was announced Tuesday and was the first trade at baseball's winter meetings.

Milwaukee also got minor league infielder Mauricio Dubon, minor league right-hander Josh Pennington and a player to be named or $100.

The 28-year-old Thornburg will become Boston's eighth-inning guy, setting up closer Craig Kimbrel for the AL East champions. Thornburg was 8-5 with 13 saves and a 2.15 ERA in 67 games for the Brewers, striking out 90 in 67 innings.

The 26-year-old Shaw hit .242 with 16 home runs and 71 RBIs last season. He mostly played third base, and also saw time at first.

The 22-year-old Dubon hit a combined .323 and scored 101 runs between the Single-A and Double-A levels. The 21-year-old Pennington was 5-3 with a 2.86 ERA in Class A (see full story).

Yankees to retire Jeter's No 2 on May 14, last single digit
NEW YORK -- Derek Jeter's No. 2 is being retired, the last of the New York Yankees' single digits.

The Yankees said Tuesday the number will be retired on May 14 before a Mother's Day game against Houston, and a plaque in his honor will be unveiled in Monument Park during the ceremony.

Jeter's number is the 21st retired by the team. He won five World Series titles and was a 14-time All-Star during a 20-season career that ended in 2014 and he is sixth in career hits with 3,465.

Jeter set Yankees records for hits, games (2,747), at-bats (11,195), doubles (544) and stolen bases (358) (see full story).