Midweek Matchup: Union Look to Remain Unbeaten at PPL

Midweek Matchup: Union Look to Remain Unbeaten at PPL

I'd imagine when you're accustomed to regularly playing weekend games a mid-week match can disrupt your typical routine. Similarly, flying cross country, playing a game three time zones away, flying back across the country, and playing another match less than four days later has to really mess with you.

Those are the circumstances the Union face tonight as they host Sporting Kansas City at PPL Park (7:30PM/The Comcast Network). The U, who lost 1-0 to Vancouver on Saturday night, now must regroup as they look to extend their seven game home unbeaten streak.

Further complicating things for the Union, a side which has struggled to find consistent scoring, is that that Carlos Ruiz is back in the fold after representing Guatemala in the Gold Cup. So, now Peter Nowak has five forwards to choose from (Ruiz, Danny Mwanga, Sebastien Le Toux, Jack McInerney, and the newly signed Veljko Paunovic), none of whom appears particularly comfortable playing with any of the others. I have no idea what strike combination Nowak will trot out tonight.

The midfield is another area of the team seemingly in constant flux. Stefani Miglioranzi returned to the lineup on Saturday in Vancouver replacing Michael Farfan. Justin Mapp also returned from a hamstring injury and replaced Keon Daniel.

I am not a huge fan of the Miglioranzi-Brian Carroll central midfield pairing. They are a talented defensive duo, but I think the team sacrifices too much offensively when they play together. Much like deciding on which forwards to go with I have no idea how Nowak fills in his lineup card for the midfielders.

Fortunately, there is no such issue as it relates to his goalkeeper and back four. Week in and week out it must be incredibly comforting to write in the names Mondragon, Harvey, Califf, Valdes, and Williams.

As much as I feel for the Union in terms of the short week it's nothing when compared what Kansas City has faced thus far this season. Tonight will be their 12th road game. They actually played their first ten games of the season on the road as they waited for Livestrong Park to be completed. All things considered it's fairly remarkable that they've gone unbeaten in their last five games (2-0-3).

Offensively SKC is led by Kei Kamara and Teal Bunbury. Graham Zusi has been productive of late, scoring two goals and picking up an assist over the last two games. Former Mexican international Omar Bravo has also contributed two goals in just seven appearances.

Defensively KC coach Peter Vermes relies heavily on keeper Jimmy Nielsen and center back Matt Besler.

Tonight is the first in a mini two game homestand. The Union face another quick turnaround when they host Chivas USA on Saturday.

Here’s the lineup I hope we see today: Mondragon, Harvey, Valdes, Califf, Williams, Mapp, Nakazawa, Carroll, Le Toux, McInerney, Mwanga.

Final Score Prediction: The Union bounce back from a bad loss at Vancouver with a clean sheet and a 1-0 win.

The Toni Stahl Memorial Union Player Most Likely To See Red: I am tiring of the discipline this team has showed. Where are the blatant elbows to the jaw? Where are the clear jersey-grabs on a clear breakaway? Come on already. Someone have a meltdown. Please. Since I am obliged to select someone I'll go with Seba Le Toux, who may gently pat a SKC player on the head a la Thierry Henry and see red. 

Best of NBA: Heat stun Warriors on Dion Waiters' 3 with 0.6 seconds left

Best of NBA: Heat stun Warriors on Dion Waiters' 3 with 0.6 seconds left

MIAMI -- Dion Waiters' 3-pointer with 0.6 seconds left capped his 33-point effort, and the Miami Heat beat Golden State 105-102 on Monday night to end the Warriors' seven-game winning streak.

The Heat wasted a 10-point lead in the final 4 minutes, and Kevin Durant tied the game on a dunk with 11.7 seconds left. With no timeouts, Waiters walked the ball up the court and drilled what became the game-winner over Klay Thompson.

Stephen Curry missed a 3-pointer as time expired for the Warriors (see full recap).

Rivers, Crawford lead Clippers past Hawks
ATLANTA -- Austin Rivers scored 27 points and Jamal Crawford broke out of a shooting slump with 19, helping the Los Angeles Clippers beat the Atlanta Hawks 115-105 on Monday night.

Crawford had eight points in the fourth quarter, including a driving basket after Atlanta cut the Clippers' lead from 24 to five points.

Kent Bazemore led the Hawks with 25 points. Dennis Schroder had 21, and Dwight Howard added 16 points and 12 rebounds (see full recap).

Wizards beat Hornets behind Wall’s 24
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- John Wall firmly believes the Washington Wizards are a good team with plenty of playoff potential.

The key, he said, "is we just got to believe it every time we step on the court."

Wall had 24 points and seven assists, and the Wizards looked plenty confident as they continued their run up the Eastern Conference standings with a 109-99 win against the Charlotte Hornets on Monday night (see full recap).

Kings snap skid with win over Pistons
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- DeMarcus Cousins had 22 points and 14 rebounds, and the Sacramento Kings snapped a five-game losing streak with a 109-104 victory over the Detroit Pistons on Monday night.

Ty Lawson added 19 points and helped Sacramento turn the game around with a strong second quarter. Lawson scored nine points in the second, and the Kings outscored the Pistons 37-24 in the period to take a 65-62 lead into halftime.

A 3-pointer by Lawson put Sacramento up 101-90 in the fourth, and the Kings held on from there to stop Detroit's three-game winning streak (see full recap).

Jones, Holiday lead Pelicans past Cavs
NEW ORLEANS -- Terrence Jones filled in brilliantly for injured All-Star Anthony Davis, scoring a season-high 36 points, grabbing 11 rebounds and blocking LeBron James' dunk attempt in the fourth quarter, and the New Orleans Pelicans beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 124-122 on Monday night.

Jrue Holiday added 33 points and 10 assists for the Pelicans, and Langston Galloway capped a 12-point night with a clean steal on James' drive in the final minute, preventing the Cavs from erasing a deficit they had trimmed from 22 late in the first half to three with 1:32 left in the game.

Kyrie Irving scoring 35 of his 49 points in the second half, but the Cleveland fell to its fifth loss in seven games. James had 26 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds (see full recap).

Best of NHL: Henrik Lundqvist's 36 saves leads Rangers past Kings

Best of NHL: Henrik Lundqvist's 36 saves leads Rangers past Kings

NEW YORK -- Henrik Lundqvist stopped 36 shots to lead the New York Rangers over the Los Angeles Kings 3-2 on Monday night.

Brandon Pirri, Matt Puempel and Mats Zuccarello scored to help New York win its third straight since a three-game skid.

Jordan Nolan and Kyle Clifford scored, and Jeff Zatkoff finished with 14 saves for Los Angeles, which has lost four straight and five of seven.

Lundqvist has given up just four goals on 84 shots during the winning streak -- including a 1-0 shutout at Detroit on Monday -- after allowing 20 on 113 shots the previous four games.

The veteran goalie needed to be at his best in this one as the Kings, who last played Saturday across town against the Islanders, seemed a step faster from the start and controlled play for most of the first two periods (see full recap).

Caps top 'Canes to extend point streak to 14 games
WASHINGTON -- Defenseman Dmitry Orlov scored twice and the Washington Capitals kept the offense rolling to beat the Carolina Hurricanes 6-1 on Monday night and extend their point streak to 14 games.

Orlov doubled his goal output for the season and Justin Williams, Evgeny Kuznetsov, T.J. Oshie and Lars Eller also scored for the Capitals, who have won three in a row and haven't lost in regulation since Dec. 27. Washington scored on six of its 25 shots on Cam Ward and handed Carolina its fourth consecutive loss.

Braden Holtby made 25 saves for his 23rd victory of the season. The only goal he allowed came from Jordan Staal on the power play in the first period.

The Capitals allowed the first goal for the first time in 11 games but scored six unanswered to continue their winning ways. They've scored 44 goals in their past eight games (see full recap).

Kadri reaches 20 goals as Leafs beat Flames
TORONTO -- Nazem Kadri scored twice to tie his career high with 20 goals this season, Frederik Andersen stopped 26 shots and the Toronto Maple Leafs ended a two-game winless streak with a 4-0 win over the Calgary Flames on Monday night.

Kadri beat Brian Elliott twice, and Andersen captured his second shutout as a Leaf.

Rookies Mitch Marner and Zach Hyman also scored for Toronto, which sits third in the Atlantic Division with 53 points.

Elliott gave up four goals on 28 shots, dropping his fourth consecutive start.

The Flames have lost three in a row and five of the past six. They are a point up on Vancouver for the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference (see full recap).