Matchday 6: Union Look to Put Together a Winning Streak

Matchday 6: Union Look to Put Together a Winning Streak

The Union, fresh off picking up its first three points of the season, travel west to face Chivas USA at the Home Depot Center (10:30PM/The Comcast Network). In the last pregame post I wrote that the Union needed to pick a style of play and stick with it. Well, with consecutive shutouts it certainly looks like Peter Nowak has opted to focus his attention on the bolstering the defensive third.
Perhaps the most impressive part of the current shutout streak is the fact that the Union held Columbus scoreless without Danny Califf and with rookie Raymon Gaddis making his first career MLS start. Sheanon Williams, who shifted to center back in place of the injured Califf, was at a physical disadvantage against the taller Crew forwards, but managed to hold his own. Gaddis was shaky, but the rookie possesses enough pace to overcome the bulk of his miscues. Hopefully his MLS debut jitters are behind him and he can settle down and play a more composed game. 
The offense remains a work in progress. The lone Union goal against Columbus came on a Gabriel Gomez penalty kick. Freddy Adu, who played his best game in a Union kit, served a dangerous ball into the box, which was handled by Eric Gehrig. Gomez converted a cheeky chip right down the middle for the lone goal of the game. Scoring from the run of play has been a major challenge for the U - as they've scored a single goal (Lionard Pajoy against Colorado) without the benefit of a whistle stopping play.
With that being said, there were some positive signs last week. Brian Carroll returned to his customary lone holding midfielder role. The move freed Gomez up to be more positive in his play. Whereas in previous weeks you'd rarely see Gomez cross the center circle - against Columbus the Panamanian pushed forward towards the edge of the Crew penalty area. The move opened things up for the Union, and allowed Gomez to contribute to the attack.
Another positive development was the play of Adu. Freddy was confident and aggressive on the ball. You saw him take on defenders and perform the sort of multiple step-overs your accustomed to seeing him unleash when wearing a US uniform. I am still not quite sure why Nowak took him off so early last week, but Adu was by far the most dangerous Union player.
Chivas enters the game in fifth place in the Western Conference (3-3). Strangely, the Goats are 0-3 at home and 3-0 on the road. Something will have to give tonight as the Union has yet to pick up a road point. Former Union man Alejandro Moreno is still plugging away in MLS. Moreno is one of four Chivas players to score so far this season.
Juan Pablo Angel, who was so dangerous when wearing a New York Red Bull shirt, is available for selection tonight by Chivas manager Robin Fraser. Angel has missed time with a concussion, but if chosen by Fraser could present a challenge for a Union back line who will be without Danny Califf for a second consecutive week.
Chivas is not a particularly high scoring team - scoring four goals in six games - so it's not out of the question for the Union to earn a point, or three, despite traveling cross country for the match.
Lineup I'd Like to See: Zak MacMath, Gaddis, Williams, Carlos Valdes, Gabriel Farfan, Carroll, Keon Daniel, Gabriel Gomez, Michael Farfan, Adu and Pajoy.
Final Score Prediction: The Union earn its first road point of the season with a 1-1 draw.

Brian Carroll's goal in 92nd minute gives Union draw with Rapids

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Brian Carroll's goal in 92nd minute gives Union draw with Rapids

COMMERCE CITY, Colo. -- Brian Carroll tied it in 92nd minute and the Union escaped with a 1-1 draw with the Colorado Rapids in a showdown of the Western and Eastern conference leaders.

Carroll ran underneath Fabian Herbers' high-arching header and slotted the finish under goalkeeper Zac MacMath from close range.

The Union (5-3-5) responded only 5 minutes after the Rapids (8-2-4) opened the scoring on Sam Cronin's header in the 87th minute. Cronin made a deep run to connect with Marlon Hairston's cross from the right flank, redirecting it into the far corner of the goal.

Both Dillon Powers and Luis Solignac had shots crash off the crossbar for the Rapids after the 70th minute.

The Union extended their unbeaten streak to seven while the Rapids stayed unbeaten in their nine home games this season.

Chase Utley haunts Mets in Dodgers' rout at Citi Field

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Chase Utley haunts Mets in Dodgers' rout at Citi Field

NEW YORK -- Chase Utley hit a grand slam and a solo homer after Noah Syndergaard threw a 99 mph fastball behind his back, and the Los Angeles Dodgers went deep a season-high five times in routing the New York Mets 9-1 on Saturday night.

In a scene that seemed inevitable since October, Syndergaard was immediately ejected following the third-inning pitch -- almost certainly his shot at retaliation against Utley for the late takeout slide that broke the right leg of then-Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada in last year's playoffs.

Plate umpire Adam Hamari tossed Syndergaard, sending Mets manager Terry Collins into a rage, but no trouble ensued between the teams. A longtime New York nemesis, Utley raised one hand slightly in the direction of the Dodgers' bench to keep teammates calm -- and later answered by doing all sorts of damage with his bat.

Kenta Maeda (4-3) shook off an early line drive that appeared to hit him in the pitching hand and threw five shutout innings for the win. The right-hander yielded two hits, both in the first, and snapped his three-game losing streak.

Adrian Gonzalez homered and had four hits for the Dodgers, who spoiled the Mets' 30th anniversary celebration of their 1986 World Series championship. Corey Seager and Howie Kendrick also connected, all after Syndergaard was gone.

Pinch-hitter Juan Lagares homered in the eighth for New York, long after the outcome was decided.

The stoic Utley is playing at Citi Field this weekend for the first time since Tejada was injured. The Mets -- and their fans -- were incensed by the aggressive slide, which led to a change in baseball rules this season designed to protect infielders in what some call the Utley Rule.

But the Mets had not tried to retaliate until Saturday night.

With one out and nobody on in the third inning of a scoreless game, Syndergaard's first pitch to Utley sailed behind the second baseman's back by a considerable margin.

Hamari immediately ejected Syndergaard, prompting Collins to come storming out of the dugout. Collins also was ejected after screaming at Hamari and pointing in his face during an animated argument. The manager was finally escorted back toward the New York dugout by another umpire.

After waiting near the mound with teammates for some time, Syndergaard walked calmly to the Mets' dugout without showing any emotion as the crowd cheered him.

Logan Verrett (3-2) entered for the Mets and, with a vocal contingent in the sellout crowd of 42,227 urging him to hit Utley with a pitch, eventually threw a called third strike past him. But then Utley homered on Verrett's first pitch of the sixth to give the Dodgers a 1-0 lead.

Booed all night, Utley added his sixth career slam off Hansel Robles in the seventh, giving Los Angeles a 6-0 cushion with his 38th career homer against the Mets.

In the series opener Friday night, Utley was greeted with loud jeers and derisive chants. He had four RBIs in a 6-5 loss, including a three-run double that tied the score with two outs in the ninth.

Where are you now?
Tejada was released by the Mets during spring training and signed by the St. Louis Cardinals, who designated him for assignment Saturday.

Trainer's room
Dodgers: RF Trayce Thompson exited in the fifth with lower back soreness. He was replaced by Yasiel Puig, who hit an RBI single off Verrett in the sixth.

Mets: INF Wilmer Flores (hamstring) went 1 for 2 with a sacrifice fly in his fifth rehab game for Double-A Binghamton. Before the game, Collins said it was reasonable to think Flores could come off the disabled list Sunday.

Up next
Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw (7-1, 1.48 ERA) starts the series finale Sunday night against 43-year-old Bartolo Colon (4-3, 3.44). Kershaw, coming off a two-hit shutout against Cincinnati, is 7-0 with a 1.17 ERA in 10 starts against the Mets. He is 5-0 with a 0.64 ERA in May -- including a three-hit shutout of New York on May 12 at Dodger Stadium. The three-time Cy Young Award winner has struck out 55 and walked two this month.

Soul drop 1st road game of season to Gladiators

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USA Today Images

Soul drop 1st road game of season to Gladiators

The Soul fell on the road to the Cleveland Gladiators, 63-49, at Quicken Loans Arena on Saturday night.

The loss was just the second of the season and the first away from the Wells Fargo Center for the Soul. Quarterback Dan Raudabaugh completed 25 of 44 passes for 342 yards and seven touchdownsi in a losing effort.

The Gladiators were led by receiver Quentin Sims, who finished with 10 receptions for 114 yards and three touchdowns, and signal caller Arvell Nelson who completed 22 of 36 passes for 307 yards and seven touchdowns.

Next week, the Soul travel to Jacksonville to take on the Sharks on Saturday, June 4. The game will be broadcast on CBS Sports and 97.5 The Fanatic.  Kick-off is set for 7 p.m.