MLS players coming and going while Union sit by and watch

MLS players coming and going while Union sit by and watch

"I'll take TWO (new left backs)," says Union manager John Hackworth.

So, this is the first Philadelphia Union post in a while. Have I decided to stop writing about the Union for The Level? No. Am I too busy dealing with a 2-year-old and a pregnant wife to write about the Union? Well ... yes .. but, no.

All has been quiet on the Union front because absolutely, positively nothing is happening down at PPL Park.

While the rest of the league shuffles the deck -- including archrival D.C. United trading for U.S. National Team player Eddie Johnson (a likely lock for next summer's World Cup roster) on Tuesday -- the Union are sitting idly by. A few players are on their way out, like Kleberson and Rogger Torres, and just one player -- midfielder Corben Bone, who was acquired from the Chicago Fire in the re-entry draft -- is on his way in so far (there are a few interesting names in Wednesday's second stage of the re-entry draft -- maybe former Red Bull defender Heath Pearce? -- but it's not really the place to make waves).

(Homegrown midfielder and Dresher native Zach Pfeffer may also be a new face for many Union fans, but he's been under contract with the Union since 2010. He has just returned from a long loan in Germany, and could be a player to watch if he earns a roster spot this season.)

So, John Hackworth, Why so quiet? Hackworth said just a few months ago that change was needed, and given the team's late-season collapse, it definitely is.

One reason for the Union to wait could be next month's MLS SuperDraft (Jan. 16 at the Pa. Convention Center). The Union have the second pick and sixth pick in the first round, two picks in the second round, three picks in the third round and one in the fourth.

With all those picks, I've been trying to withhold judgment on the Union offseason until after the draft. There's no way the Union will use all eight picks on players they plan to keep. And I know there are probably discussions already underway involving those picks that won't be finalized until draft day.

All those picks are great, but the Union fanbase is not looking for more players who have tons of potential but are years away from contributing. It's put up or shut up time for the Union in 2014. It's time to be a contender. And there are players out there -- from potential European designated players to experienced MLS veterans -- who would immediately make this team better.

Every day the Union sit on the sidelines, another one of those players finds a new home. I'm not saying Eddie Johnson was the answer for the Union (he is not), but the fans in Philly are tired of watching the big names go elsewhere while asking, "Who is Corben Bone? (A: a once-promising midfielder who played just 18 games since 2010.

So, the Union have draft picks to deal, holes to fill and PLENTY of Allocation Money to spend (I won't even try to explain allocation money -- Major League's Soccer's mysterious currency -- since I understand it only slightly better than Bitcoins). They need a playmaking midfielder, an upgrade at left back, some depth on defense and many, many other pieces.

If nothing else, a juicy player rumor or two would be nice.

Eagles-Redskins predictions by our (cough) experts

Eagles-Redskins predictions by our (cough) experts

The Eagles (5-7) come into Sunday's game against the Redskins (6-5-1) on a three-game losing streak.

The Redskins exposed the Eagles' defense the last time these two teams met almost two months ago on Oct. 16.

Here are our (cough) expert predictions for this Week 14 matchup.

Dave Zangaro (4-8)
After losing three straight games, I couldn't pick the Eagles against just about any team in the NFL. Maybe Cleveland. Maybe Chicago. 

But against Washington? Nah. Can't do it. 

Sure, I know Washington comes into the Linc on a two-game losing streak, and they're clearly not a top team in the NFC. It just doesn't matter. Kirk Cousins is a decent quarterback and Washington clearly has enough weapons to shred the Eagles like they did for 493 yards in the first meeting. 

For the Eagles' offense, Carson Wentz hasn't looked good in a long time and this week he enters with a few of his skill position players banged up. 

This looks like another loss to me. 

Washington 26, Eagles 20

Derrick Gunn (5-7)
The Eagles are an embarrassed, desperate team, and a win over the Redskins could lift the weight of what has been a downward spiral. Ryan Mathews and Jordan Matthews returned to practice this week, but can they jolt this offense back to life? Carson Wentz has played like a rookie the last three games, and the once stout defense has crumbled.

So here come the Redskins, losers of two in a row but still very much in the playoff conversation. The Redskins' defense is beat up and could be missing several key players, but unfortunately for the Eagles, Washington's offensive weapons are relatively healthy, except for tight end Jordan Reed, who's listed as questionable with an AC joint sprain. Matt Jones and Robert Kelley pack a punch out of the backfield. 

Quarterback Kirk Cousins has been in a zone. Over their last six games, Cousins has averaged 352.6 passing yards, plus he's thrown 12 touchdown passes and only two interceptions. 

The Eagles remember what Washington did to them back in Week 6, but I feel their revenge motives will fall short.

Redskins 27, Eagles 17

Ray Didinger (5-7) 
With all the talk this week about effort and players dogging it, I fully expect the Eagles to come out focused and fired up at home Sunday. Here's the problem: I just don't know if they are good enough to win the game. Motivation is one thing, but talent is another and right now, the Eagles are lacking in that area.
 
The players have been called out by their coach, by the media and by the fans so if they have any pride at all they will come out and play hard against the Redskins but I look at the matchup of this Eagles' secondary against the Washington receivers — especially a hot DeSean Jackson (25.3 yards per catch the last three games) — and I don't see a happy result.
 
Redskins 24, Eagles 17

Corey Seidman (5-7)
Close game, better performance from Carson Wentz and an awakening in the run game, but not enough defensive talent to shut down what Washington will try to do deep with DeSean Jackson and Jamison Crowder, over the middle with Jordan Reed and short with Pierre Garcon.

Redskins 31, Eagles 27

Andy Schwartz (5-7)
It's simply come to this. I can't pick the Eagles to win a game the rest of the season until they do.

I want to think the offense will benefit from the return of Ryan Mathews and Jordan Matthews. And I want to think the defense will play with desperation and break out of its "slump" and make some big plays.

But I won't believe it until I see it.

Redskins 24, Eagles 16

Shayne Gostisbehere suffers bone bruise on right hand in win over Stars

Shayne Gostisbehere suffers bone bruise on right hand in win over Stars

Flyers defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere took a shot off his right hand in the second period Saturday and has a bone bruise. 
 
The Flyers will watch it because sometimes the swelling prevents wearing a glove comfortably the next day.
 
Ghost, who has five points – all assists – over his past six games, was hit with a puck in the second period of a 4-2 win over the Stars. He went to the bench and tried to shake it off, but left for the dressing room shortly after a Flyers power play began in the period’s final three minutes.
 
He participated for part of the power play, then left the ice and did not return until the start of the third period.
 
“It was good by then,” he said. “Obviously, it hurt a bit.”
 
The Flyers play in Detroit on Sunday night. 
 
Ghost has 16 points (four goals) in 29 games this season. X-rays were negative, he said, adding he was not worried about the hand, which was badly swollen after the game.