MATCHDAY: Union try to salvage something from trip to California (and the greatest paper airplane throw ever)

MATCHDAY: Union try to salvage something from trip to California (and the greatest paper airplane throw ever)

Union manager John Hackworth is desperately seeking a lineup that works. He gets another shot tonight against Chivas USA. (AP Photo)

Before we get into tonight's match, I present the greatest paper airplane toss of all time (below). This dude at the England-Peru game Friday threw an airplane from the nosebleeds at London's Wembley Stadium, and actually hit a Peru player.

(I am not condoning the tossing of objects onto the field).

[nbcsports_video src=//www.youtube.com/embed/rKeCNwScSyg width=620 height=349]

Now, onto something far less impressive: The Philadelphia Union.

The Union played so listlessly the last time out that you'd be excused for forgetting the game even happened. But it did, and the Union lost 4-1 to the LA Galaxy.

The team stayed in California for the week to prepare for tonight's game against Chivas USA (10:30 p.m. - Comcast SportsNet), in the same stadium where they were embarrassed last week.

Cristian Maidana is set to return from a red card suspension, but it's anyone's guess what kind of lineup John Hackworth will throw out there. Tactically, nothing has been working of late. And, more frighteningly, it was pretty obvious last week that the team was just not ready to play. Once it was clear that LA was going to run wild, the Union absolutely rolled over and let it happen.

(phillysoccerpage.net)

Personally, I wish Hackworth would look inward a little bit, and see that his guys don't fit into the formation that he seems dead-set on using. There was a great post this week from the always-excellent Dan Walsh of the Philly Soccer Page, where he gives credit to Hackworth and the Union for TRYING to play attractive soccer this season. I'd sum it up here, but it's definitely worth your time to give it a good read.

At the end of the post, Dan proposes a new Union lineup that I would be 100 percent behind (seen at right). Mostly, he calls for Hackworth to put the lineup out there and leave it alone for a few games. At this point, the Union only have two games left before a long break for the World Cup (the only chance for a Hackworth firing during the season, in my opinion), but I would not mind seeing this lineup for two games. You have nothing to lose, and what you're doing is not working. So let a young prospect like Zach Peffer learn on the job, and let Maurice Edu and Vincent Nogueira thrive in more comfortable positions.

And, please, for all that is holy, put Brian Carroll on the bench.

Prediction: I somehow, actually think the Union figure it out and provide some false hope against a pretty bad Chivas team. They will at least make it worthwhile to stay up past midnight. ... Union 3, Chivas USA 1.

 

Nerlens Noel joins Sixers in New Orleans, may play Sunday vs. Pistons

Nerlens Noel joins Sixers in New Orleans, may play Sunday vs. Pistons

NEW ORLEANS — Nerlens Noel made another step toward his return from arthroscopic left knee surgery by joining the Sixers in New Orleans for their game against the Pelicans.

Noel arrived on Wednesday with Robert Covington, who is slated to start after missing the last three games with a left knee sprain. Noel is not cleared to play, but Brown doesn’t think it will be long until he suits up. 

“I don’t think far away,” Brown said of Noel’s regular season debut after shootaround.

When asked about the possibility of Noel playing this weekend when the Sixers face the Pistons on Sunday in Detroit, Brown replied, “Maybe.” 

Noel has missed the entire regular season recovering from elective surgery for an inflamed plica in October. He completed the first phase of his rehab in Birmingham, Ala. and has been continuing his work with the Sixers. This trip to New Orleans is the first time he has been with the Sixers on the road. 

“[He is] integrating with the team, studying a lot of tape, scripting with his teammates with the understanding that we have a chance to see him soon,” Brown said. “All that trying to ramp it up where he can go to an NBA court more comfortably.”

Noel spoke out about his displeasure with the Sixers crowded frontcourt at the start of the preseason. He recently stuck with his stance, saying, “I don’t think the roster’s changed.”

Brown is working to keep the team moving forward as a unit while still being aware of and recognizing Noel’s perspective. 

“It does,” Brown said when asked if Noel’s open frustration concerns him as it pertains to team cohesiveness. “But I feel like it’s so much a part of what we try do around here that it’s not like you’re going to blink and you’ve forgotten something that equals camaraderie, that equals team, that equals trying to keep this together, and you’ve left it for a week … 

“It’s a day-to-day focus for me and it’s a very candid conversation with me and the player. The team hears it, the individual hears it, we all understand it … We need to coexist and we need to understand the reality of it all, too. There’s a human side you understand. It’s also pride, it’s competitiveness, it’s do your job, it’s nothing is given, you’ve got to take stuff, draw your own line in the sand, competitors rule the day.”

Last season Noel averaged 11.1 points and a team-high 8.1 rebounds per game. The Sixers will look forward to having him back on the court in that once-crowded frontcourt that is now shorthanded. Jahlil Okafor remained in Philadelphia with gastroenteritis. Ben Simmons still is rehabbing from a right foot fracture. 

"Soon you’re going to see Ben Simmons coming to a team bench where he doesn’t come out with boots and have to push him in some type of wheely apparatus," Brown said. "We’ve dealt with so many injuries trying to find that balance of dealing with their health and so on, and then trying to integrate them back into a team is part of growing a program."

Flyers fans send amazing postcards to their beat writers

Flyers fans send amazing postcards to their beat writers

I like to give Flyers fans a bit of a hard time on occasion, but that's only because I love them.

One beautiful Flyers fan today reminded me of why I love them.

They took the time to send a postcard to CSNPhilly.com's Flyers Insider -- and hater of the woo -- Tim Panaccio with one single word written on it.

"Woo."

Panotch says "Someone wasted a stamp and post card on this," but I say we just generated at least 50 cents in ad revenue from those of you that are reading this right now.

Money and time well spent.

Now, if you're not up on your wooing, Panotch penned a piece on how some fans wooing at games started annoying some of the players. Panotch hates the woo. BUT... and this is an important but... the Flyers are 6-0 since this all started. 

Woo.