Union Finally Back At It - Host San Jose

Union Finally Back At It - Host San Jose

The Union are finally back in action today after agreeing to reschedule last week's match with Real Salt Lake (who lost a heartbreaking CONCACAF Champions League Final to Monterrey). San Jose visits PPL Park (4PM/6ABC), where they picked up a 2-1 win last season.

The time off provided Peter Nowak's club a chance to get healthy and to hopefully figure out a way to jump-start their struggling offense. Brian Carroll, who has been nursing a hamstring injury, is listed as probable and should return to the starting lineup. Whether the offense can finally get things going remains to be seen.

San Jose sits at the bottom of the Western Conference with just five points from six matches (1-3-2). The Earthquakes have dropped two straight, including a 2-1 loss to Chivas last week.

Chris Wondolowski, who won the 2010 Golden Boot, has scored three of San Jose's six goals this season. Wondo scored San Jose's lone goal last week, a header from a difficult angle following a corner kick.

Penn Charter product Bobby Convey returns to his hometown fully fit, having played in every minute of every game this season. Convey picked up 10 assists last season, good enough for fifth in MLS, en route to winning the 2010 MLS Comeback Player of the Year Award. His ability to provide service from the wing will pose a challenge for Sheanon Williams on the outside. 

San Jose, which is in the midst of a four game winless streak, may mix things up a bit today. Head coach Frank Yallop promised changed following their loss to Chivas, saying "… I need to shake it up now, because that ain’t good enough. Not even  close. ... There might be a few [new] guys starting. We’ll see."

The Union, who after the week off sit in third place in the East with ten points (3-1-1), need to figure out a way to generate more offense. To date they've gotten results thanks to a vastly improved defense. However, plodding along at a goal a game pace is not going to cut it if they hope to make the playoffs.

How can they improve the attack? Well, playing Roger Torres a bit more would certainly help. He's really the only creative midfield presence on the roster (which is one of the reason I was clamoring for them to claim Benny Feilhaber). Torres has bailed them out off of the substitutes bench all too often thus far. Why not plug him into the starting lineup? Whatever deficiencies he has defensively should be covered up by the return of Carroll.

It would also help if Carlos Ruiz, Sebastien Le Toux, and Danny Mwanga could figure out a way to play together. They've combined to score just two goals this season, and Ruiz has both of them. Now, if you would have told me before the season started that the Union would be 3-1-1 with neither Le Toux nor Mwanga scoring a goal I'd of said no shot. It's a obviously a credit to their defense, but they need to get those two going.

Unlike San Jose I can't imagine Peter Nowak will tinker with his starting lineup too much. I expect we'll see Mondragon, Harvey, Califf (aka "The Sheriff"), Valdes, Williams, Mapp, Carroll, Miglioranzi (although I wish Torres would start here), Daniel, Le Toux, and Ruiz.

Final Score Prediction: The Union miraculously score two (count 'em two!) goals and take home the three points with a 2-1 win.

The Toni Stahl Memorial Union Player Most Likely To See Red: Thanks to the Union being all "disciplined" (air quotes) I am fearing it may be time to retire this bit, but I'll go with Justin Mapp, who is the most likely player on the team to hit the fourth official with a wayward cross and be sent off for making contact with an official.

Photo Credit: Some really dedicated Califf fans who sat near me at the Union/NYRB game. Oh, and Califf tossed them his sweaty jersey. Cheers!

Best of NHL: Canadiens score 10 goals in rout of Avalanche

Best of NHL: Canadiens score 10 goals in rout of Avalanche

MONTREAL -- Max Pacioretty had four goals, Brian Flynn scored twice during a six-goal first period and the Montreal Canadiens routed the Colorado Avalanche 10-1 on Saturday night.

Flynn, Pacioretty and Artturi Lehkonen each scored against Calvin Pickard in the opening 7:12, and then Pacioretty, Paul Byron and Flynn each had a goal among the first four shots on Semyon Varlamov.

Pacioretty completed his hat trick in the second period and added another in the third to give the captain seven goals in his last four games.

Alexander Radulov and Jeff Petry also scored for Montreal, which has shown no drop-off without injured scoring leader and first-line center Alex Galchenyuk. Montreal outshot the Avs 36-16 (see full recap).

Malkin, Crosby lead Penguins past Lightning 4-3
TAMPA, Fla. -- Sidney Crosby had another eventful night.

The Penguins star returned after passing concussion protocol following a first-period hit to get his 20th goal, and that stoked Pittsburgh's rally for its latest victory.

Crosby and Evgeni Malkin both scored their second goals on third-period power plays, helping the Penguins come back to beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-3 on Saturday.

Crosby was shaken up by Luke Witkowski's check with eight minutes to go in the first but returned for the start of the second period (see full recap).

Late barrage helps Blue Jackets beat Islanders 6-2
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Jack Johnson, Cam Atkinson and Seth Jones each had a goal and an assist as the Columbus Blue Jackets beat the New York Islanders 6-2 on Saturday night for their sixth straight win.

Josh Anderson, Brandon Saad and Lukas Sedlak also scored for Columbus and Sergei Bobrovsky had 25 saves.

Josh Bailey and John Tavares scored for New York, which had earned a point in a season-high five straight games (4-0-1). Jaroslav Halak made 32 saves until he was pulled after the Blue Jackets scored four consecutive goals in the third period.

Anderson put Columbus ahead 3-2 at 2:19 when he picked off a defensive pass and banged it in from the slot seconds after coming onto the ice for his shift (see full recap).

Matthews, Hyman score in 2nd, Maple Leafs beat Bruins 4-1
BOSTON -- The Toronto Maple Leafs found a way to overcome a poor opening period.

Auston Matthews and Zach Hyman scored in the second period, Frederik Andersen made 32 saves and the Maple Leafs beat the Boston Bruins 4-1 on Saturday night.

"The last three games the first period kind of did us in," Toronto coach Mike Babcock said. "We didn't start on time. We were able to hold on. It still wasn't the first period we wanted, but we didn't give up the goals and we were able to execute a little bit."

After managing only two shots on goal in the first, Toronto was happy to get to the dressing room with the game scoreless (see full recap).

Best of NBA: Grizzlies dominate throughout, crush Warriors

Best of NBA: Grizzlies dominate throughout, crush Warriors

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Marc Gasol and Tony Allen scored 19 points each and the Memphis Grizzlies rolled over the Golden State Warriors 110-89 on Saturday night for their sixth straight win.

The Grizzlies led by as many as 30 points in the second half - the biggest advantage by any Warriors opponent this season. Seven Memphis players finished in double figures.

Kevin Durant led Golden State with 21 points, while Stephen Curry added 17 points and Ian Clark finished with 10 points. Curry and backcourt starter Klay Thompson (eight points) were a combined 8 of 28 from the field, including 3 of 14 outside the arc.

Memphis built a double-digit lead early, led 61-38 at halftime and kept building in the third quarter (see full recap).

Butler, Wade lead Bulls to 105-100 win over Heat
CHICAGO -- Jimmy Butler scored 31 points, Dwyane Wade added 28 against his former team and the Chicago Bulls held off the struggling Miami Heat 105-100 on Saturday night.

Butler scored Chicago's final 10 points to help the Bulls come out on top after Miami pulled within one.

Wade keyed a big third-quarter run in his second game against the Heat, and the Bulls hung on after handing San Antonio its first road loss two nights earlier.

Goran Dragic led Miami with 21 points and 11 assists. An energetic Hassan Whiteside added 20 points after being benched for part of Friday's blowout loss in Cleveland. Tyler Johnson scored 15, but the Heat dropped their fifth straight (see full recap).

LeBron scores 44, reaches assist mark as Cavs down Hornets
CLEVELAND -- LeBron James scored 17 of his season-high 44 points in the fourth quarter and reached another career milestone as the Cleveland Cavaliers won their fourth straight, 116-105 over the Charlotte Hornets on Saturday night.

James did it all, adding 10 assists and nine rebounds in 43 minutes. He took over in the fourth quarter, scoring 13 straight during one stretch to help the Cavs hold on.

As the final seconds ticked off, James stood at midcourt and spun the ball on his index finger as the crowd roared.

James, who moved into ninth place on the career scoring list Friday, recorded his 7,000th assist in the first half, becoming the first frontcourt player in NBA history to reach the plateau. James is the only player with 27,000 points and 7,000 assists (see full recap).

George has 37 points to lead Pacers over Blazers 118-111
INDIANAPOLIS -- Paul George scored a season-high 37 points to lead the Indiana Pacers over the Portland Trail Blazers 118-111 on Saturday night.

George made five 3-pointers, and Thaddeus Young hit six 3s while getting 24 points and nine rebounds. Myles Turner added 14 points for the Pacers, who had lost five straight regular season games to Portland.

C.J. McCollum made a career-high seven 3-pointers and had a season-best 34 points for the Trail Blazers. Damian Lillard had 33 points behind five 3s.

George scored 13 straight points in the fourth quarter for Indiana. He was fouled on the go-ahead basket with 4:36 remaining and completed the three-point play to give the Pacers a 108-105 lead (see full recap).