Real Madrid-Celtic FC Kick Off Another Big Soccer Weekend in Philly

Real Madrid-Celtic FC Kick Off Another Big Soccer Weekend in Philly

Growing
up a soccer fan in Delco, it was rare I got to see much of the game on
TV much less in person. Today, after watching the Olympic gold medal
match on TV, we'll rush up to the Linc, where the global force that is
Real Madrid will take on deeply rooted Celtic FC. Tomorrow night, we have the
regularly scheduled Union home match against Chicago Fire at PPL Park.
Not a bad way to spend a Saturday and Sunday if you're into the
beautiful game. Even better, neither match really interferes with the
Phils-Cardinals series at Citizens Bank Park. 

The Madrid-Celtic match was slotted for 1:30 pm to
alleviate congestion in the sports complex, clearing out before all but
the Phillies tailgating early birds show up for tonight's 7:05 start.
Tomorrow, the slots reverse. A summer weekend filled with sports either
in person or on TV… I'll take it. 

Cristiano Ronaldo and Real Madrid return to Philly
for a second straight summer visit since the Union became a franchise.
Last year, we were treated to a fantastic friendly between the Union and
Madrid. Despite taking the loss, the Union showed well, with a
memorable chip goal by Michael Farfan as he formally announced his
ascendency.  

In the 2012 visit, Madrid face Celtic FC, who have
also played the Union locally, down at PPL Park. It may seem a minor
thing, but it speaks volumes to me about the growth of the game in this
region that two of the most recognized clubs in the world will play here
in recent years, along with a number of other teams visiting.
Milan train here, and Celtic recently announced plans for a local
international development academy.

Aside from a report
that Celtic defender Glenn Loovens didn't care for the area (unclear as
to whether he meant the one surrounding PPL Park, where he played
against the Union in 2010, or Philadelphia on the whole), some players
from global powerhouses that have come through Philadelphia in recent
years have left speaking about how it is top class. The Eagles
organization has done a good job of providing comfortable training
facilities and making the Linc a soccer destination despite it being
geared much more toward American football, and the Union's fan support
and new soccer-specific stadium seem to leave a favorable impression
even to opposing teams. 

While the match itself is an off-season friendly,
many stars will be out today. Joseph D'Hippolito takes a nice look at
the firepower Real brings here
.

Each club represents one half of two of soccer's
most passionate rivalries. Celtic and Glasgow Rangers are Scotland's
famous Old Firm
, a rivalry deeply rooted in religion, politics, and
violence.
Real Madrid and FC Barcelona's rivalry, played out each year in El
Clasico, also has profound roots off the pitch. Rev put together a great
primer on it earlier this year
. These
days, the focus is mostly on which Spanish powerhouse will rule the
world, but the rivalry represents not only two large cities, but the
"clash of Castillian nationalism and Catalan pride; and a rivalry of
cultures forged in the Spanish civil war and the reign of General
Franco," as Will Tidey of CNN put it in 2011

If you're interested in the rich history of these
rivalries and many other social and economic components to soccer, I
highly recommend Franklin Foer's book, How Soccer Explains the World.
It's absolutely brilliant and eye-opening. 

But today, we're just expecting a fun display
between two respected clubs. Each should be well represented at the
Linc, so far from their home grounds.

Joel Embiid to play Monday vs. Nuggets; Jahlil Okafor questionable (illness)

Joel Embiid to play Monday vs. Nuggets; Jahlil Okafor questionable (illness)

Joel Embiid will play Monday night against the Nuggets at the Wells Fargo Center.

The reigning Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month is still unable to play back-to-back games. He'll likely be out Tuesday night when the Sixers travel to Memphis to play the Grizzlies.

The home crowd will get see Embiid but they may not get to see him paired with fellow big man Jahlil Okafor. Okafor is questionable on Monday with an illness. The pair played together for nearly 13 minutes in last Friday's blowout loss to the Magic. They each recorded a double-double.

Robert Covington, who sprained his left knee in the loss to Orlando and is now battling the flu, is out against Denver. Jerryd Bayless, who's missed the last four games while stilling battling a left wrist injury, is also out on Monday.

For the season, Embiid leads all rookies with averages of 18.7 points, 7.9 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per game in 13 games. 

Penalties the only consistent theme for Doug Pederson's Eagles

Penalties the only consistent theme for Doug Pederson's Eagles

CINCINNATI — There’s one thing the Eagles are very consistent at, and it’s nothing to be proud of.

The Eagles continue to be one of the most penalized teams in the NFL, and with 10 more infractions in their 32-14 loss to the Bengals on Sunday, they increased their 12-game total to 100 — second-most in the NFL this year.

Five times they’ve been called for 10 or more penalties, and that’s one shy of the most games in franchise history with double-digit penalties in a season.

And there’s four games to go.

The Eagles have been cited for penalties seven or more times in all but three games. They’re on pace for the third-most penalties in franchise history.

Earlier this year, the Eagles committed seven or more penalties in four straight games for the first time in six years. The last month, they did that again.

This is not a disciplined football team. Not remotely.

“The penalties are hurting us,” said Brandon Graham, who was called for a personal foul after a low hit on Andy Dalton Sunday. “You kind of get frustrated a little bit and sometimes a lot of stuff starts happening. But we have to clean that up.”

The Eagles are on pace for 133 penalties. The franchise high is 138, set in 1994 by a Rich Kotite team that lost its last seven games. The 2005 team — torn apart by the Donovan McNabb-Terrell Owens feud — committed 134.

The only team with more penalties than the Eagles this year is the Raiders with 112. They always lead the league in penalties and at least this year they’re winning anyway.

The Eagles aren’t. Their lack of discipline has contributed greatly to their current stretch of seven losses in a nine-game span.

For the Eagles, it’s been just another part of the season that’s gotten away from coach Doug Pederson and his players.

“Penalties have got to stop,” Pederson said Sunday night. “Obviously, the turnovers and things like that too. It’s just not characteristic of how we coach and how we play.”

But it’s how this team has played. Consistently.

Only against the Bears, Cowboys and Giants have the Eagles committed fewer than seven penalties. When they commit 10 or more, they’re 1-4

“Some of it is focus, and some of it is anticipating the snap count,” Pederson said. “Some of it is a little on the quarterback, because we’re using so many snap counts and cadences to get indicators from the defense to tip their hat a little bit.

“Guys are geared up. We’ve got to focus in on that, because it’s something we work on every single week. Obviously the silent count we work on every week.”

Here’s a breakdown of the Eagles’ 100 penalties:

12 — Jason Peters

8 — Jason Kelce

7 — Nolan Carroll

6 — Zach Ertz, Allen Barbre

5 — Jalen Mills, Fletcher Cox

4 — Dorial Green-Beckham, Brandon Graham, Carson Wentz, Malcolm Jenkins

3 — Nigel Bradham, Rodney McLeod, Najee Goode, Marcus Smith, Brent Celek

2 — Jaylen Watkins, Brandon Brooks, Lane Johnson, Isaac Seumalo, Destiny Vaeao, Trey Burton, Matt Tobin

1 — Kenjon Barner, Darren Sproles, Ron Brooks, Jordan Matthews, Wendell Smallwood, Vinny Curry, Kamu Grugier-Hill, Donnie Jones, Bennie Logan, Chris Maragos, Leodis McKelvin, Halapoulivaaati Vaitai.

And here’s a breakdown of the types of penalties the Eagles have been hit with:

22 — False start

16 — Offensive holding

10 — Unncessary roughness

8 — Defensive pass interference, offensive pass interference

7 — Defensive offsides

4 — Delay of game, illegal formation, defensive holding

3 — Roughing the passer, facemask, neutral zone infraction

2 — Chop block, defensive 12 men on the field, encroachment, illegal contact, running into the kicker

1 — Unsportsmanlike conduct, horse collar tackle, illegal block above the waist, illegal shift, offensive 12 men on the field, offensive offsides, illegal use of hands