MATCHDAY: Bring out the orange ball Union shoot for first points in mile high air UPDATED

MATCHDAY: Bring out the orange ball Union shoot for first points in mile high air UPDATED

The Union’s newest striker spent most of last week’s
home opener trying to stay warm on the bench at PPL Park.

When he came on in the 84th minute, the
Union were already down two goals and the home crowd was cold and restless.

So Conor Casey threw his weight around a bit. 

The 31-year-old veteran threw a vicious hipcheck on
notorious pest Aurelien Collin, and finished it off by exchanging words
with his fellow hairless counterpart.

It at least drew some cheers from the Sons of Ben,
who were itching for something to cheer about. 

[UPDATE: The game has been postponed as we mentioned it may. Sunday at 3:00 pm is the new game time.]

Today at 6 p.m. (The Comcast Network) – or tomorrow
at 3 p.m. if MLS decides the 18 inches of snow in today’s Denver forecast
are too much – Casey returns to Colorado, where he made his name as
a strong-willed striker who knew how to find the net.

That’s what they Union were hoping to get when they
picked Casey in the December re-entry draft. 

So why did it take 84 minutes to see him last week?

I won’t pretend to have watched many Rapids games
in recent years. But even before last week’s opener, I was hoping
to see Casey from the opening whistle. After all, the Union’s offseason
message was basically, “See, we got real strikers now!” 

Casey has not played a full-ish season since 2010,
when he scored 13 goals in 27 games (26 starts). But he’s full recovered
now from an Achilles injury that limited him in 2011 and 2012, and judging
by last week’s late cameo, he might be just what this team needs from
the opening whistle.

The major problem last week was on defense, but the
Union also missed a few big chances at the other end. And while Sebastien
Le Toux played OK as a lone striker, one of his major flaws is his inability
to hold up the ball and break an opponent’s momentum. 

In case you didn’t notice, Sporting Kansas City
took the momentum late in the first half and never gave it back.

Casey may not score 15 or 20 goals this season, but
his presence on the field might be just what this team needs. 

Today’s Game:

Colorado Rapids (0-1-0, 0 points) vs. Philadelphia
Union (0-1-0, 0 points) 

6 p.m., Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, Commerce City,
Co. – TV: The Comcast Network

(The league was set to make a decision regarding the
snow on Saturday morning. If the game is postponed, the teams will play
Sunday at 3 p.m. Eastern – I’m assuming still on Comcast Network).

Today’s Opponent, in Haiku Form: 

Atiba up front

Could give the U some trouble

Mastroeni lives

Real Facts About Today’s Opponent: 

Colorado has long been one of the tougher places in
the league to go and get points, but the Rapids are definitely a team
in transition.

One of the few recognizable names – new acquisition 
Edson Buddle – is not expected to be ready today as he completes his
recovery from knee surgery. The team waved goodbye to Omar Cummings
(Houston) and Jeff Larentowicz (Chicago) and will likely spend a few
weeks trying to find the right combination for the starting lineup. 

Sports Illustrated’s Avi Creditor placed the Rapids
15th out of 19 in his preseason
power rankings
(the Union were 14th). On
the upside for Colorado, top-choice goalkeeper Matt Pickens will start
after missing the opener due to injury. Backup
Steward Ceus and his major league gaffe
led to the
only goal in last week’s 1-0 loss at FC Dallas.

A Real Fact About Today’s Opposing City (via Denver.org): 

More beer is brewed in Denver than any other American
city.

The Player Most Likely to Doop: 

If they game goes on in the snow, a 0-0 draw might
be the most likely outcome. If a goal is scored, I could go with Le
Toux as the easy choice. But after John Hackworth hinted this week at
a changed starting lineup, I’ll go out on a limb and reluctantly say
Jack McInerney.

Lineup I Would Love to See: 

Until Hackworth shows some semi-consistency in his
lineups, I’ll stop trying to read his mind and just give you the lineup
I’d choose.

The formation below is a little unorthodox and unlikely,
but mostly I’d love to see Hackworth find a way to get these guys
on the field. Daniel was one of the best players last week and earned
himself another start. 

Macmath

Williams – Soumare – Parke – Gaddis (reluctantly) 

Okugo – Carroll

      
Daniel 

Le Toux – Casey –
M.Farfan

Prediction Sure to Be Way Off: 

Whether it’s today or tomorrow, I’d love to predict
a Union win. If they have aspirations of improvement in 2013, they need
to get results on the road against some of the league’s weaker teams.

Sadly, I don’t see it. 

Colorado 2, Union 1.

Phillies can exhale after bullpen nearly blows 10-0 lead

Phillies can exhale after bullpen nearly blows 10-0 lead

BOX SCORE

The moment when the ball struck first baseman Tommy Joseph’s glove for the final out of the Phillies 10-8 win over the Mets — dealing a major blow to their rival’s wild card hopes in the process — felt more like a collective exhalation than a moment of celebration (see Instant Replay).
 
Two days earlier, the bullpen faltered suddenly. A game-tying two-run homer by Jose Reyes in the ninth was the first body blow. The game-winning three-run homer by Asdrubal Cabrera was the knockout.
 
Saturday, the collapse occurred over the course of five innings as the Phillies let a lead that was once 10-0 slip away, one drawn-out at-bat after another.
 
Missing, of course, was the moment of impact in the proverbial slow-motion car crash, thanks to well-placed sinkers and four-seamers from Michael Mariot.
 
“The bullpen’s been sputtering,” manager Pete Mackanin said in an understatement.
 
Joely Rodriguez entered in the sixth inning with a 10-4 lead to face a string of lefties and it quickly became apparent that he did not have his fastball. A middle-in four-seamer that caught too much of the plate was slapped for a double by Mets shortstop Gavin Cecchini, his first major-league hit and a run. A second run scored when a little dribbler by third baseman T.J. Rivera died on the third base line, leaving Rodriguez with no play.
 
“He just didn’t throw quality strikes,” Mackanin said.
 
Even the normally-reliable Hector Neris struggled on Saturday. In his 77th outing of the season, Neris walked two straight batters and then surrendered an RBI double to Cecchini of his own which narrowed the lead to 10-7 and thrust the uncertainty of a save situation onto Mackanin.
 
Mariot was given first crack at the ninth inning one day after Mackanin said he would give Jeanmar Gomez a break from closing duties.
 
Mariot’s audition got off to a rough start. He gave up a pinch-hit solo home run to Jay Bruce — who had been mired in an 0-15 slump — with one out in the ninth and then walked Eric Campbell and Michael Conforto after a pair of grueling at-bats that lasted a combined 18 pitches.
 
The two hitters fouled off eight of Mariot’s pitches and took several four-seamers that just missed the plate.
 
“I was pretty upset about that,” Mariot said of the four-seamers that missed. “I was hoping to get at least a swing or maybe a call on those. Talking to [catcher] A.J. [Ellis], I think he said that they missed but I was hoping at least one of them to get called a strike.”
 
Gomez was up in the Phillies’ bullpen but Mariot ensured that Mackanin wouldn’t need to throw the recently-struggling closer back into the fire in a high-stress situation.
 
Mariot was able to locate his fastball when he needed to most. He fooled Lucas Duda with a two-seamer that the slugger popped out to Freddy Galvis and got Travis D’Arnaud to ground a four-seamer outside right back to him.
 
“I just told myself: ‘keep throwing strikes and good things will happen,’” Mariot said.
 
He threw just enough strikes to ensure that the Phillies didn’t end up on the wrong end of what would have been the Mets’ biggest comeback in team history.

Find great deals on Philadelphia Phillies tickets with TicketIQ. Buy cheap Phillies tickets with no hidden fees for all games on their 2016 schedule. 

College football wrap: Auburn upsets No. 18 LSU with controversial finish

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College football wrap: Auburn upsets No. 18 LSU with controversial finish

AUBURN, Ala. -- Gus Malzahn was ready to try anything to get a win for his Auburn Tigers.

Malzahn relinquished offensive play-calling duties. Following his daughters' advice, he traded his usual game-day visor for a cap. And then, when the clock expired and LSU players were celebrating an apparent last-second win, the Auburn coach put all his faith in a ruling he couldn't control.

Daniel Carlson kicked six field goals and Auburn beat No. 18 LSU 18-13 on Saturday night after officials ruled Danny Etling's apparent last-gasp scoring pass came after time expired.

Malzahn said he knew there were only zeroes on the clock before the snap to Etling.

"I was pretty confident time had expired," Malzahn said. "It was just a matter of going to the booth and confirming it."

Etling rolled to his right and found D.J. Shark in the back of the end zone on a 15-yard pass, setting off a short-lived celebration by LSU players (see full recap).

Hornibrook proves he's ready in Badgers' win over Spartans
EAST LANSING, Mich. -- By the time Alex Hornibrook's first start was over, there wasn't much question about whether he could handle one of the toughest road tests in the Big Ten.

Hornibrook threw for 195 yards and a touchdown, and 11th-ranked Wisconsin turned its early-season showdown with No. 8 Michigan State into a rout, beating the Spartans 30-6 on Saturday.

"You've got to have respect for a guy whose first start is against a Michigan State defense," Wisconsin running back Corey Clement said.

"He's going to come out the next game and do even better. I think he's just getting his feet wet."

The freshman quarterback outplayed fifth-year senior Tyler O'Connor, his Michigan State counterpart. The Badgers (4-0, 1-0 Big Ten) were the better team in the first half and then outscored the Spartans 17-0 in the third quarter (see full recap).

No. 23 Rebels find their rhythm, beat No. 12 Georgia 45-14
OXFORD, Miss. -- Mississippi quarterback Chad Kelly faked the handoff and then took off running toward the end zone. A few seconds and 41 yards later, the quarterback had cruised through the middle of the Georgia defense and into the end zone untouched.

It was pretty much that easy for the Rebels all afternoon. Ole Miss finally built a lead it couldn't give away.

No. 23 Ole Miss rolled to a 45-14 victory over No. 12 Georgia on Saturday, building a 31-0 lead by halftime and a 45-0 advantage by midway through the fourth quarter.

Kelly threw for 282 yards and two touchdowns. Ole Miss (2-2, 1-1 Southeastern Conference) broke a 10-game losing streak in the series dating to 1996 (see full recap).

Dobbs rallies No. 14 Vols to 38-28 win over No. 19 Gators
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- This time, Tennessee delivered the comeback.

And in the process, the Volunteers took out 11 years' worth of frustration on Florida.

Joshua Dobbs accounted for five second-half touchdowns Saturday and No. 14 Tennessee erased a 21-point deficit to beat No. 19 Florida 38-28 and end their 11-game losing streak in the annual series.

"I didn't see anybody blink," Tennessee coach Butch Jones said. "Nobody flinched. They just kept playing."

This marks the first time Tennessee (4-0, 1-0 SEC) has beaten Florida (3-1, 1-1) since 2004. The Volunteers had lost to Florida by one point each of the last two years despite leading in the fourth quarter of both games (see full recap).