Union, Soumare put impending break-up on hold

Union, Soumare put impending break-up on hold

CHESTER, Pa. – Imagine you’re living with someone who doesn’t treat you how you think you deserve to be treated. So you tell this person you want to leave. And this person, though a little bit surprised, doesn’t want to change and decides to help you look for a new place to live.

Now imagine that after a couple of months of trying to coexist in the same house while essentially broken up, you both realize maybe it’s in your best interests to stay together – at least in the short term until you both find something better.

No, this isn’t the plot to a cheesy movie. (Or maybe it is? Did I just describe “The Break-Up” with Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughn? That movie didn’t really make a lasting impression on me.) It’s pretty much the sports equivalent of what’s going on right now with the Philadelphia Union and high-priced center back Bakary Soumaré.

Despite asking for a trade very early in the season because of a lack of playing time – and the Union telling him they’d grant that that request – Soumaré is poised to make his season debut Saturday against the Chicago Fire because of a hamstring injury to starting center back Jeff Parke and a one-game suspension to right back Sheanon Williams (who can also play center back).

To be clear: Soumaré still wants to be traded to a team where he can play regularly. And it seems unlikely Soumaré plays so well Saturday that manager John Hackworth opts to reshuffle the lineup and make him a full-time starter ahead of staring center backs Parke and Amobi Okugo.

But here’s the part that’s sort of interesting: there doesn’t seem to be any animosity between the two sides. Soumaré says he’s content with how the Union have shopped him around and is very excited to get back on the field and wear the Philadelphia uniform this weekend. And Hackworth seems happy that Soumaré has still worked hard in training for the past two months, thus making him ready to come off the bench and fill the void created by Parke’s injury.

Take a look at this Hackworth quote from Wednesday’s press conference when he was asked about the relatively good relationship he’s maintained with Soumaré despite the trade request:

“I think that speaks volumes to both sides and how we approach this. The term I would use is it’s a professional approach. We tried to leave personal agendas out of it. And from both ends, you have to look at it from a business side and what it means for our team. And you have to look at it on a personal level and what it means to a player. And you come to a point where both sides are working diligently to get something done. And then you have a little bit of respect that at least the process is going according to how it should be.”

Yes, it’s still sort of silly that the team’s second-highest paid player (behind Kléberson, another guy that doesn’t play) is being used as a backup until he’s traded. But, hey, it probably could have been worse. Maybe Soumaré could have simply decided to stop showing up to training until a trade is completed. Or maybe the Union could have decided to completely ice him out as a punishment for going public with his trade request, which has probably made the act of trading him more difficult.

Take a look at this quote from Soumaré, who seemed to be in very good spirits after Wednesday’s practice:

“If I’m called upon, I’ll be ready. Just like I was ready the week before. Just like I’ve been ready. The thing with Hack, it’s always been that we’re trying to trade you but you’re still a part of this team and if we need you we’re going to call on you so be ready. And this is what’s happening now.”

It seems likely that Soumaré will still end up playing elsewhere at some point this season. But I think it’s also fair to say this could have been a much messier break-up. Like in that movie “The Break-Up.” Or something.

Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com and CSNPhilly.com. Email him at djzeitlin@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter at @DaveZeitlin.

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).