Relive the best moments of a long, memorable and ultimately disappointing Philadelphia Union season

Relive the best moments of a long, memorable and ultimately disappointing Philadelphia Union season

With the Union’s 2013 campaign ending with a whimper (two straight losses and a 3-6-3 record over the final three months effectively knocked them out of playoff contention), it might be hard to remember the good times.

The MLS regular season, after all, is an eight-month marathon and how are we expected to remember what happened back in March when our attention spans are … SQUIRREL!

Luckily, I’m here to provide some highlights of some of the Union’s best goals and moments. (And before you think we’re getting soft, feel free to reference Steve Moore’s recent post on the team’s blown chances and all of the other cynical and negative articles that exist about a team that, while setting a franchise record for wins, did sort of crash and burn down the stretch.)

Here now are the top highlights from each month of the season:

MARCH

Don’t ask me how but in the second game of their season, the Union somehow went on the road and picked up a rare win over a playoff team (Colorado) after the game was postponed because of a blizzard. The contest also featured Amobi Okugo’s first career goal, as well as an awkwardly subdued celebration from Philly’s rising star.

APRIL

The first three months of the season were very good to Jack McInerney, who scored a whopping 10 goals by June 1 before hitting a wall. And no game was better for the 21-year-old star striker than the Union’s 3-2 win over rival D.C. United on April 21 when McInerney scored twice, including this delicious goal where he managed to split a pair of D.C. defenders. Make sure to watch the video, if only to hear the announcer exclaim, “The Jack Mac Attack has done it again!”

MAY

In another one of the season’s did-that-really-just-happen moments, much-maligned midfielder Danny Cruz managed to score twice in a one-minute span, spurring the Union to a 2-2 home draw with the Seattle Sounders on May 4. To put that in perspective, Cruz finished the season with three goals and had a total of two goals all of last season.

JUNE

This was a good month for the Union, who picked up two 3-0 home wins – over Columbus and eventual Supporters’ Shield winner New York. But of all of the goals scored in those two exciting victories, none was as cool as defender Sheanon Williams’ vs. Columbus – not only because he scored on an acrobatic side-volley that landed him on SportsCenter’s Top 10 plays but also because he decided to hug a random fan afterwards.

JULY

The Aaron Wheeler-to-Antoine Hoppenot goal that led to the Union’s 1-0 road win in Vancouver on July 27 was impressive but few goals were as memorable (or weird) as Michael Farfan’s vs. Chivas USA on July 12. In the rarely seen indirect kick, Farfan rocketed one into the top of the net from about seven yards out as Chivas defenders charged at him. The goal was Farfan's only one of the season and it came in a game in which he played opposite his twin brother, Gabriel.

AUGUST

The Union only scored four total goals in five August games – and two of them came from one guy in the same game. The brace from Conor Casey helped the Union pick up a 2-0 home win over shorthanded D.C. United at PPL Park on Aug. 10 – and continued to show the value of Casey, who finished with 10 goals in his first season with Philly.

SEPTEMBER

Despite tumbling down the standings over the final couple of months, the Union still managed to pick up an unlikely 1-0 road win over Eastern Conference powerhouse Sporting Kansas City on Sept. 27. It was an impressive performance from the Union’s defense and from goalie Zac Macmath, who made five saves to earn the shutout, including one huge one on star midfielder Graham Zusi. The contest also featured quite the move from Cruz that set up the game's only goal.

OCTOBER

PPL Park has never been as loud as it was on Oct. 5 when Kleberson scored a beautiful free-kick goal in the final minutes to send the Union to a thrilling 1-0 win over Toronto FC. The goal was the first in MLS for the Brazilian World Cup veteran, who had been buried on the bench for most of the season. Kleberson also had a couple of assists in October but, sadly for the Union, this win would be their last of the year. It was still, perhaps, one of the best moments in franchise history.

Kris Jenkins shared video of Villanova doing Running Man Challenge at White House

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Kris Jenkins shared video of Villanova doing Running Man Challenge at White House

Tony Hawk has skateboarded at the White House. Women's lacrosse champions have worn fliflops at the White House.

Now, the Villanova Wildcats have done the Running Man Challenge at the White House.

The video was shared on Kris Jenkins' Instagram account this afternoon. They don't call him "Big Smooth" for nothing.

Officially ending this Runningman challenge. Presidential edition. #GameBlouses #NovaSzn

A video posted by Kris Jenkins (@bigsmoove2) on

In case you missed it earlier, President Obama welcomed the 2016 NCAA Champion Villanova Wildcats to his crib and called Jay Wright the, "George Clooney of coaches." He's not wrong.

Despite rocky offseason, Eagles QBs have "a really good relationship"

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Despite rocky offseason, Eagles QBs have "a really good relationship"

Sam Bradford says Carson Wentz is a great kid. Carson Wentz says his relationship with Sam Bradford is special.

So much for them hating each other.

Bradford and Wentz both spoke glowingly of each other Tuesday after an OTA practice at the NovaCare Complex.

And both spoke equally highly of Chase Daniel, the Eagles’ other quarterback.

Turns out they all like each other.

Boring? Yeah. Drama? No. But they all say that’s the reality.

“They’re great dudes,” Bradford said. “We have a really good room. Having Chase in the room for me and Carson has been great because he’s been in the system for what, three? This is his fourth year in the system? So he understands some of the smaller details.

“Like when we watch tape, he’s able to point out, ‘Hey, this play looks like this against this coverage,’ or, ‘You can short-cut this read and (throw) here a little quicker against this coverage.’ So I think having him in the room with me and Carson has been really good.

“Carson, he’s been great. He’s a great kid, he’s really talented. It’s been fun working with him, trying to help him, trying to just share bits of information that I’ve picked up.”

It was the Eagles’ decision to trade up to No. 2 in the draft and take Wentz that led Bradford to leave voluntary practices for two weeks and demand a trade.

It wasn’t until he returned earlier this month that he even met Wentz, the former North Dakota State star.

But Wentz said there’s been no tension between the two. The opposite has been the case.

“It’s been great working with Sam, working with Chase,” Wentz said. “We’ve got an awesome quarterback room. A lot of really good discussions about the play book, about life. It’s been great.

“And then on the practice field, it’s been great for me. We all have a really good relationship. Nothing but great things to say about those guys.”

Head coach Doug Pederson has maintained that Bradford is the starter going into the regular season. Offensive coordinator Frank Reich said there’s open competition.

Whatever happens in September, it’s only a matter of time until this is Wentz’s team.

But Daniel said so far everybody is handling a tricky situation just fine.

“You know what, business is business,” Daniel said Tuesday. “Like I’ve said before, everyone handles (those situations) a little bit differently. For me, there’s no awkwardness. I know I’ve talked to Sam, there’s no (awkwardness).

“It’s you check your ego at the door, it’s time to go to work. Let’s go to work.”

If there are any hard feelings, these three quarterbacks are certainly hiding them very well.

“The relationship we have with us three is huge,” Wentz said. “We’re not out there to get each other, we’re out there to make the team better. (That) not only uplifts the team but makes us individually better.

“Being able to work together and not have to worry and stress out about the other stuff. At the end of the day makes the team better.”

Bradford is the incumbent starter. Daniel is the most experienced in Pederson’s offense. Wentz is the hot-shot rookie.

It’s a better story if they hate each other. But so far at least, they seem to be getting along just great.

“For me and the rest of the quarterbacks, we view every day as an opportunity to get better,” Wentz said.

“We have a little friendly competition among ourselves to make us better. If we’re all pushing each other, working together, it only makes the team better, and I think that’s something we have going on here that’s really special.”

President Obama praises Villanova at the renamed 'Blue and White House'

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AP Photo

President Obama praises Villanova at the renamed 'Blue and White House'

Villanova’s memorable victory tour continued Tuesday as noted basketball fan and President of the United States Barack Obama welcomed the Wildcats to the White House -- or, as he called it, “the Blue and White House today.” 

You should definitely watch the whole video but here are some highlights from the very cool ceremony: 

  • Obama said that Vice President Joe Biden, whose wife Jill Biden got a Master’s degree from Villanova, picked the Wildcats to win it all. “That’s the type of wise counsel you’re looking for in a vice president. Unfortunately, I didn’t follow the counsel so my bracket was busted,” said Obama, who picked Kansas to win it all and didn’t even have ’Nova in the Final Four.
  • Obama called Jay Wright the “George Clooney of coaches” and “the best dressed man in college basketball.” We’ve reached out to George Clooney’s reps for comment (no we haven’t).
  • He pointed out that leading scorer Josh Hart went to the same high school -- Sidwell Friends -- as his daughter Malia, who will graduate from there next week. “It’s good to see a Sidwell kid do well.”
  • It was fun to hear the president call Daniel Ochefu and Kris Jenkins by their nicknames -- “The Chef” and “Big Smooth,” respectively.
  • He purposefully sped through Ryan Arcidiacono’s name “in case I didn’t say it right” -- and he didn’t. “I’m just gonna call him Arch,” Obama said, learning an important lesson for Villanova fans, college basketball writers and world leaders everywhere.
  • Was that a Charles Barkley weight joke? After comparing Kris Jenkins’ famous game-winner to Christian Laettner’s shot vs. Kentucky in 1992 and N.C. State’s buzzer-beater in the 1983 title game, Obama said “Charles Barkley apparently jumped out of his seat, which he doesn’t do very often these days.”
  • He praised Villanova’s off-court achievements, including the fact that they ranked in the top 10 percent nationally in grades and all five seniors graduated (continuing a trend of every four-year Villanova player graduating since the 1970s). And he discussed how Ochefu and Arcidiacono surprised a young ’Nova fan with cancer by hiding in his playhouse -- “which seems a little scary but their hearts were in the right place.”
  • He didn’t hold back about the epic ending to the NCAA tourney, calling it “as memorable of a championship game as I can remember” and “maybe the best title game of all time,” before adding that “just the last few seconds could be a documentary.” 

After Obama’s remarks -- good job, speechwriters! -- Wright took his turn at the podium to present the president with a Villanova jersey from their game at Pearl Harbor last December and to thank him for his leadership.

“Nothing is as big as this,” Wright said. “This is big time. This is a great day for Villanova University.”

Well said, Coach Clooney.