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

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

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

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
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.

Best of NBA: Dwyane Wade hits dagger 3-pointer in Bulls debut

Best of NBA: Dwyane Wade hits dagger 3-pointer in Bulls debut

CHICAGO -- Dwyane Wade scored 22 points in a triumphant Chicago debut, Jimmy Butler had 24 and the Bulls won their season opener, beating the Boston Celtics 105-99 on Thursday night.

Wade nailed a 3 from the corner in the final minute to make it a five-point game. Taj Gibson added 18 points and 10 rebounds, and the new-look Bulls got off to a winning start after missing the playoffs last season for the first time since 2008.

Isaiah Thomas led Boston with 25 points. Avery Bradley had 16, and Jae Crowder 14 points, but the Celtics came up short after opening with a win over Brooklyn the previous night.

The Bulls remade their roster in the offseason, jettisoning one hometown superstar and welcoming another when they traded Derrick Rose to New York and signed Wade to a two-year deal worth about $47 million in a move that stunned Miami.

The three-time NBA champion and 12-time All-Star is off to a good start with the Bulls after 13 seasons with the Heat.

Wade hit 4 of 6 3-pointers in this game after making just seven all of last season (see full recap).

New-look Hawks roll past Wizards
ATLANTA -- Dwight Howard dominated the boards in his Atlanta debut, Paul Millsap scored 28 points and Tim Hardaway Jr. ignited the new-look Hawks to a 114-99 victory over the Washington Wizards in their season opener Thursday night.

Howard grabbed 19 rebounds to go along with 11 points, just what the Hawks expected from their new center, and it certainly wasn't unusual for three-time All-Star Millsap to lead the way in scoring.

But Hardaway's performance was totally unexpected given the way he struggled in his first season with the Hawks, when he was largely confined to the bench and even forced to spend time in the D-League.

He scored 21 points, matching his high in an Atlanta uniform, and broke open a close game with back-to-back 3-pointers in the fourth. The Hawks, who led only 81-80 heading to the final period, outscored the Wizards 33-19 over the final 12 minutes (see full recap).

Best of NHL: Canadiens rally past Lightning for 6th straight win

Best of NHL: Canadiens rally past Lightning for 6th straight win

MONTREAL -- Max Pacioretty scored the tiebreaking goal in Montreal's three-goal third period as the Canadiens beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 3-1 Thursday night for their sixth straight win.

Alex Galchenyuk and Torrey Mitchell also scored to help Montreal improve to 7-0-1. Carey Price made 29 saves to win for the fourth time in four starts this season.

Alex Killorn scored the lone goal for the Lightning, who lost against an Eastern-Conference opponent for the first time this season. Ben Bishop stopped 23 shots.

With the scored tied 1-1, Pacioretty got the go-ahead goal at 10:23 by beating Bishop glove-side. Blown coverage by the Lightning left the Canadiens' captain all alone on the edge of the face-off circle, and Bishop couldn't see the shot with Andrew Shaw posted firmly in front of goal.

Montreal remains the only NHL team still undefeated in regulation (see full recap).

Crosby's late goal gives Penguins win over Islanders
PITTSBURGH -- Sidney Crosby scored the tiebreaking goal late in the third period to lead the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 4-2 victory over the New York Islanders on Thursday night.

Patric Hornqvist, Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel also scored -- each getting his third of the season -- to help the Penguins win for the third time in four games and improve to 5-0-1 at home.

Crosby, playing for the second straight game after missing the first six with a concussion, scored with 2:25 left as he caught a pass from Scott Wilson at the top of the crease and quickly turned to his forehand to put the puck behind Islanders goalie Jaroslav Halak.

Kessel added a power-play goal to cap the scoring 32 seconds later.

Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 35 shots while starting for the eighth straight game.

Travis Hamonic and Shane Prince scored for the Islanders, and Halak finished with 31 saves (see full recap).

Streaking Red Wings win marathon shootout vs. Blues
ST. LOUIS -- Henrik Zetterberg scored in the eighth round of a shootout to give the Detroit Red Wings a 2-1 victory over the St. Louis Blues on Thursday night.

Zetterberg's goal gave the Red Wings a six-game winning streak.

In the shootout, St. Louis' first shooter, Alexander Steen, scored but then Vladimir Tarasenko, Kevin Shattenkirk, David Perron, Nail Yakupoc, Robby Fabbri, Patrick Burgland and Dmitrjij Jaskin all came up short.

Gustav Nyquist scored on Detroit's second attempt but Frans Nielsen, Dylan Larkin, Andreas Athanasiou, Tomas Tatar, Riley Sheehan and Darren Helm all missed.

St. Louis had the better chances in overtime. Center Jaden Schwartz missed a wide-open net early in the extra session. Jori Lehtera was stopped on a breakaway midway through the period by Detroit goalie Petr Mrazek (see full recap).