Matchday 7: No Nowak, No Garfan, No Daniel, No Problem?

Matchday 7: No Nowak, No Garfan, No Daniel, No Problem?

The Union, who have held the opposition scoreless over the last 332 minutes, host the San Jose Earthquakes (7PM/Comcast SportsNet) and Chris Wondolowski, who coming into play today was tied with Thierry Henry for the MLS goal scoring lead. The Union will attempt to shut down Wondo without the benefit of a number of familiar faces.
Manager Peter Nowak, starting left back Gabriel Farfan and starting midfielder Keon Daniel will all miss the game due to suspension. Losing Garfan will certainly hurt a defense that has kept three consecutive clean sheets. The back line will likely welcome back Danny Califf, who has been out with a hamstring injury. With Garfan out and Califf returning it remains to be seen how they'll line up in the back.
Rookie Raymon Gaddis has done a solid job since being introduced to the starting lineup. I can't imagine the Union coaching staff wants to move him from his right back spot. With that in mind we'll likely see Sheanon Williams get the start at left back. An outside back combination of Gaddis and Williams certainly brings a ton of pace to the table. A back four of Gaddis, Califf, Carlos Valdes, and Williams could be the the back line combination of choice for a Union team recommitted to locking things down defensively.
While they seem to have figured things out in their defensive third, questions remain as to their ability to create and finish chances in the final third. The Union have scored a meager four goals in seven games. Gabriel Gomez is their leading scorer - with two goals (one from a free kick and the other from a penalty kick). The only other players to score a goal are Freddy Adu and Lionard Pajoy. 
Adu has been fantastic since returning from Olympic qualifying. He's flashed the sort of skill and attacking mindset you're accustomed to seeing from him when wearing a US shirt. Michael Farfan has also played really well of late. His ability to get to the end line, take players on 1 v. 1 and deliver a cross have been on display recently - never more so than his cutting run and service on Adu's backheel goal last week against Chivas
The Earthquakes come to town atop the Western Conference table. The Quakes have accumulated 16 points from seven games (5-1-1). They've been paced by Wondolowski, the 2010 MLS Golden Boot winner, who has scored eight goals thus far. Amazingly, Wondolowski is the only San Jose player who has scored more than one goal so far this season. Khari Stephenson, former Union man Shea Salina (who is out injured), Rafael Baca, Alan Gordon and Simon Dawkins have each scored a single goal thus far. 
The Quakes have only conceded five goals in seven games. Jon Busch starts between the sticks. He plays behind a back line of Steven Beitashour, Ike Opara, Jason Hernandez and Justin Morrow.
It remains to be seen who will step into the role normally occupied by Keon Daniel. Could we see the debut of Kai Herdling in the Union midfield? Perhaps homegrown player Zach Pfeffer may get the call?
Starting Lineup I'd Like to See: Zac MacMath, Gaddis, Califf, Valdes, Williams, Brian Carroll, Adu, Gomez, Herdling, M. Farfan, Pajoy.
Final Score Prediction: I know I've predicted a lot of ties, but I see this one ending 1-1. 
Photo Credit: Jason O. Watson, US Presswire

Instant Replay: Eagles 21, Vikings 10

The Associated Press

Instant Replay: Eagles 21, Vikings 10


Story coming …

Jahlil Okafor eager for more minutes as knee heals

Jahlil Okafor eager for more minutes as knee heals

CAMDEN, N.J. — Jahlil Okafor has been patient with his right knee. He was disciplined with restrictions and recovery during the preseason, recognizing the goal of being ready for opening night. 

At the same time, once he got back on the court he wanted more. Okafor played eight minutes Friday against the Heat, his first game since Feb. 28 before undergoing surgery to repair a right meniscus tear. 

“I don’t think I’m going to do eight again,” Okafor said Sunday. “They kind of heard me complain about that a lot. I think it’ll definitely be more than eight, but it won’t be much more.” 

Okafor has been limited since reaggravating his knee during the final day of training camp. He practiced “to tolerance” on Sunday, according to the Sixers. Okafor did not participate in the team scrimmage and worked out individually with assistant coach/head of strength and conditioning Todd Wright. 

The second-year big man did not feel soreness on Saturday following the game. On Sunday, he felt “kind of stiff” during practice. Brett Brown has been watching Okafor’s movement closely. While Okafor considered it to be “good,” Brown was a tougher critic. 

“I think he looked OK,” Brown said. “He didn’t look great to me today. I’ll give him a B-minus … It’s always how do you move? East, west, north, south, how do you move?” 

Okafor scored four points, one rebound, one assist, one block and one turnover in Miami. He focused on his defense during the game. When he subbed out, he checked in with Elton Brand on the bench to receive feedback from the now-retired veteran. Okafor plans to continue to tap into him for advice throughout the season. 

With opening night three days away, Okafor still plans to be on the floor for it.

“I am optimistic about it,” he said. “I should be ready to go.” 

Robert Covington sprained his right ankle in Friday’s game and did not practice Sunday. Brown anticipates Covington, who has been starting at small forward, also will be ready to go Wednesday. 

“I do (expect him to play),” Brown said. “But we won’t know that for sure yet.” 

Sixers waive retired Elton Brand
The Sixers waived Brand on Sunday, making his retirement official. Brand announced his intentions to walk away from the game Thursday. The Sixers' request of waivers was a procedural step. The roster currently stands at 19. 

“It’s been an honor, it’s been a privilege to play this game, the game that I love, and I’m certainly going to miss it,” Brand said last week (see story). “But it’s definitely time now.” 

Brand celebrated his career with his teammates at Komodo in Miami on Thursday night ahead of their preseason finale against the Heat.