Union beat first-place Sporting KC (yes, really) and make big statement in support of their manager

Union beat first-place Sporting KC (yes, really) and make big statement in support of their manager

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Well, no one was really expecting that one, right?

The Philadelphia Union entered Wednesday night's game on the road against the best team in the Eastern Conference without a win in their last nine games. They were also without their captain (Brian Carroll) and their star midfielder (Maurice Edu)

And they won.

Not only did the Union beat Sporting Kansas City, 2-1, on Wednesday night, they watched their 1-0 lead disappear in the second half and immediately took the lead back off the ensuing kickoff.

Unlike the coma-inducing snoozefests we've been treated to at PPL Park recently, this game had countless talking points. Chief among them was the team's celebration following Danny Cruz's second-half goal that gave the team a 1-0 lead.

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The team clearly had a plan to run all the way to the opposite sideline and wrap John Hackworth in a huge group hug, showing very visible support for a coach whose seat could not be hotter.

Other notable talking points:

  • Zac MacMath made two ENORMOUS saves in the first half to keep the Union in the match, both on Sal Zizzo. MacMath has to be the frontrunner to start the MLS All-Star Game, I'd think.
  • Andrew Wenger was stellar as the (sorta) lone forward in the 4-3-3 formation. He had a great assist on Maidana's second goal (see below), but he was great all night holding the ball up and fighting off two of the better defenders in the league, including one who is a likely starter for the United States in the World Cup. If you've doubted the trade that brought Wenger in and sent Jack McInerney to Montreal, just wait a bit longer. Wenger brings a lot of skills that McInerney lacked.

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  • Without Carroll and Edu, Amobi Okugo played in his more natural role as the center defensive midfielder. Not only was he strong all night, but Austin Berry and Sheanon Williams did a nice job in the center on the back line. We'll see if Hackworth has the cojones to leave Okugo there should Carroll be healthy on Saturday against New England (7 p.m. - Comcast Network).
  • WHO'S UP: Cristian Maidana shook off a very shaky first half to shine in the second half. Other strong performances were turned in by Ray Gaddis and -- of course -- Vincent Nogueira -- who would easily be the team MVP so far if not for MacMath.
  • WHO'S DOWN: Leo Fernandes looked lost all night, and Fabinho made a few big mistakes that nearly cost the team dearly. He also earned a yellow card, meaning he can't play Saturday against the Revs.

The most unique performance was turned in by Corben Bone, who came in for Nogueira in the 89th minute. He left the game 54 seconds later after earning a red card with a dangerous slide tackle (video below). With the result going the Union's way, it was something to laugh about, as Okugo proved after the game:

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Best of NHL: Penguins beat Panthers in Sidney Crosby's debut

Best of NHL: Penguins beat Panthers in Sidney Crosby's debut

PITTSBURGH -- Sidney Crosby scored in his season debut as the Pittsburgh Penguins rallied to beat the Florida Panthers 3-2 on Tuesday night.

Crosby, who scored on a power play, missed the team's first six games with a concussion. Carl Hagelin and Eric Fehr also scored for the Penguins, who extended a seven-game unbeaten streak against the Panthers.

Marc-Andre Fleury, who has started the first seven games of the season for Pittsburgh, stopped 20 shots. Matt Murray, who backstopped the Penguins to a Stanley Cup in June, served as the backup to Fleury after missing the first six games with a broken hand.

Reilly Smith scored a power-play goal and Mark Pysyk also scored for the Panthers, who have lost 11 of 12 against the Penguins in Pittsburgh.

James Reimer made 19 saves in his second start of the season (see full recap).

Kings top Blue Jackets in overtime
LOS ANGELES -- Alec Martinez scored 1:14 into overtime, and the Los Angeles Kings rallied to beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-2 Tuesday night for their third straight victory.

Drew Doughty scored the tying goal with 5:57 left in regulation for the Kings, who won their third straight overtime game after an 0-3-0 start to the season. Captain Anze Kopitar also scored, and third-string goalie Peter Budaj stopped 19 shots in his third consecutive win.

Cam Atkinson scored a tiebreaking power-play goal late in the second period, and Sergei Bobrovsky made 27 saves for Columbus. Brandon Saad also scored for the Jackets, who had won two straight after an 0-2-0 start.

Martinez ended it by putting a rebound into an open net for the defenseman's second goal of the season (see full recap).

Lightning strike for seven goals in win
TORONTO -- Steven Stamkos matched a career-high with four points -- two goals and two assists -- and the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 7-3 on Tuesday night.

Frederik Andersen gave up seven goals on only 24 shots, the third time in five starts he has allowed at least five goals and fourth time he's allowed four or more. The 27-year-old has an .851 save percentage so far this season.

Alex Killorn, Victor Hedman, Nikita Kucherov, Vladislav Namestnikov and Jonathan Drouin added goals for Tampa Bay, while Ben Bishop made 40 saves.

William Nylander, James van Riemsdyk and Auston Matthews scored for the Maple Leafs, who outshot the Lightning 43-24 (see full recap).

Report: Eagles make inquiry about Bears WR Alshon Jeffery

Report: Eagles make inquiry about Bears WR Alshon Jeffery

The Eagles could be looking for a bigger name outside.

In need of a deep threat — and reportedly in talks about a trade for 49ers wideout Torrey Smith — the Eagles are interested in Bears wide receiver Alshon Jeffery and attempting to make a move for the 2013 Pro Bowler, according to a report Tuesday night by Benjamin Allbright of Mile High Sports Radio.

We followed up with Allbright, who clarified the Eagles simply made an inquiry.

Jeffery, much more of a do-it-all, dynamic wide receiver than the one-dimensional Smith, is 26 years old and can become a free agent at season's end. He'll warrant good money, but would make the Eagles better in more ways than one compared to Smith.

The 6-foot-3, 218-pounder put up 89 catches for 1,421 yards and seven touchdowns in 2013, followed by 85 catches, 1,133 yards receiving and 10 scores in 2014.

This season, he has 520 yards receiving and has yet to find the end zone playing for the quarterback-challenged Bears, who are 1-6 and more than likely thinking about next season.