Union have plenty of chips to play on SuperDraft day in Philly

Union have plenty of chips to play on SuperDraft day in Philly

Georgetown's Steve Neumann -- here at last week's MLS Combine -- is an interesting draft target for the Union, since he's a Council Rock North graduate and his family holds Union season tickets. He's already expressed a desire to play at PPL Park.

So, any news out there on the Union front?

It's been a weird 24 hours for the Union, what with trading their best center back for another center back and trying to sign a high-priced star only to have the league say they can't.

The Maurice Edu saga is not complete as of this writing, and may not be over by Thursday at noon when the 2014 Major League Soccer SuperDraft kicks off at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. That, in and of itself, is a shame. A shame because of course it would be nice to unveil Edu in front of what should be a throng of Union fans, but mostly because the Edu situation will impact what the Union do with their eight (EIGHT!) draft picks.

However, while WE may not know the conclusion of the Edu situation, I have to think Nick Sakiewicz and John Hackworth will at least have an idea how it will shake out before the draft. So from that standpoint, we'll just have to wait and see.

With that in mind, a few quick-hitters on Thursday's draft as well as one or two other rumors making the rounds:

  • The draft begins at noon at the Pa. Convention Center. If you're a Union fan who wants an excuse to day drink and have a great time, join the Sons of Ben at the Field House (inside the Convention Center and Market East Station) at 8:30 a.m. Admission to the draft is free. You can also meet the Union draft picks after the draft at the team's post-party at BRU, a few blocks from the Convention Center.
  • If you can't make it, the draft will air live at noon on ESPNNews or on the WatchESPN app.
  • As of right now, the Union will pick second and sixth in the first round, followed by picks at No. 25, 27, 44, 46, 52 and 63. I don't expect the Union to end the day with eight new players, however. Trades will happen.
  • Our friend Dave Zeitlin broke down a few names to look for in the first round. Since college soccer players are not household names, we'll save your time and really break it down tomorrow after we know for sure who's coming to town.
  • That being said, if you want to sound like you know your stuff and impress your friends: After trading Jeff Parke Tuesday, I'd expect the Union to take one of the two California center backs -- Steve Birnbaum or Christian Dean -- with the No. 2 pick. However, if they feel like one of them -- or another defender they like -- might fall to No. 6, maybe they take a chance on Maryland forward Patrick Mullins at No. 2. Mullins is a two-time reigning Hermann Trophy winner (soccer's Heisman) and, as Jay Bilas would say, likely has the greatest "upside" in the draft. He'd also be the 643rd Maryland grad on the roster.
  • Steve Neumann

    An interesting name on the board is midfielder Steve Neumann from Georgetown. Neumann is a Council Rock North graduate whose family has Union season tickets. He has said he would love to play for the Union, and that is not a factor I would take lightly if I were John Hackworth. A desire to play here and a comfort level here are not unimportant. Also: His mustache game is absolutely on point (see right).

  • A phrase you might hear a lot is "Generation adidas." This year, there are seven Generation adidas players in the draft. These are promising young players who have already agreed to contracts with the league. Why does this matter? If you draft one of these guys, his salary DOES NOT COUNT toward your salary cap for at least a year or two, until a player "graduates" from the program by playing enough minutes, etc. Christian Dean and Patrick Mullins ARE Generation adidas players. Birnbaum and Neumann are not. Just keep that in mind.
  • Don Garber

    If the league's apparent "blocking" of the Edu deal turns out to be true, MLS Commissioner Don Garber shouldn't count on an especially warm welcome from the Sons of Ben on Thursday. We've included a handy picture of Mr. Garber, in case you wish to boo him on the Broad Street Line.

In non-draft and non-Edu news:

Flyers-Sabres 5 things: Forget about Monday's final result

Flyers-Sabres 5 things: Forget about Monday's final result

Flyers vs. Sabres
7:30 p.m. on CSN, Pregame Live starts at 6:30

After a hard-luck 3-1 loss in Montreal to the Canadiens on Monday, the Flyers (2-3-1) return home Tuesday to the Wells Fargo Center to face the Buffalo Sabres (1-2-1) for the first time this season.

The Sabres are struggling early on this year, so Tuesday night could be a prime opportunity for the Flyers to get back on the winning side of things.

Let’s take a closer look at the matchup.

1. It’s a new day
Despite the result, the fact of the matter is the Flyers played a very good road game on Monday in Montreal against the Habs. Shots on goal were just about even (Montreal held a 33-32 advantage) and the Flyers had excellent opportunities to tie late in the game, but a fully healthy Carey Price had other ideas. Steve Mason was great with 31 saves, many of the difficult variety, and he had no chance on Brendan Gallagher’s winning deflection late in the third. It was a seesaw battle and the Habs wound up on top when the final buzzer sounded. It goes that way sometimes.

But Tuesday is a new day, and the Flyers have a chance strike right back against the Sabres. Forget Monday’s final result. If the Flyers play the way they did Monday, they’re going to win plenty of games.

“Overall we played a pretty good game,” head coach Dave Hakstol said after Monday’s loss. “Certainly we can do better, obviously not coming out with the points. We’ve got to turn the page real quick and get ready to go for a home game tomorrow night some 19 to 20 hours from now.”

Even though Monday night’s result is still fresh, sometimes it’s good to get right back out there and try and keep the momentum of strong play going.

And the Flyers will get some reinforcements on the blue line Tuesday as Radko Gudas will return from his six-game suspension and be in the lineup. No word yet on who will sit.

2. Can’t stop Jake
Move aside Matt Read and Wayne Simmonds. Jake Voracek is the new hottest Flyer.

With his slick deflection on Monday, Voracek now has three goals in his last two games and is riding a four-game point streak. As matter of fact, he has a point in all but one of the Flyers’ six games this season. He’s posted three goals and five assists for eight points so far, which is tied for fourth in the NHL in the early going.

Perhaps most encouraging about Voracek’s play early is the fact that he’s shooting the puck frequently. A natural passer, the 27-year-old forward has 21 shots on goal so far this year, which ties him for 10th most in the league. He has a nice shot when he wants to use it and he’s certainly using it this year.

Considering Voracek’s struggles last season, it has to feel good for him to get off to this kind of solid start. And it has to be reassuring for Hakstol and the Flyers. The second line with Voracek, Sean Couturier and Travis Konecny is playing well as a unit, too.

3. What’s up with Buffalo?
Things got off on the wrong foot, almost literally, for the Sabres the day before the regular season started when stud sophomore and franchise pivot Jack Eichel went down during practice with a high ankle sprain. He’s likely out for about another month or so.

And things haven’t gotten much better as the Sabres have scored just 11 goals in four games this season. Those 11 goals are tied for second least in the entire league and six of them came in one game in Edmonton. It’s tough to judge the Sabres based on the small sample size of games they’ve played so far, but it’s not a good sign when more than half of a team’s goals come in one game.

Starting goalie Robin Lehner is out of Tuesday’s game with an undisclosed illness. Backup Anders Nilsson will make his first start of the regular season. Nilsson has played in three games against the Flyers in his career and owns a 2-0-0 record against them with a 2.26 goals-against average and .906 save percentage.

4. Keep an eye on
Flyers: Brayden Schenn has had the Sabres’ number with six goals against them in 14 career games. That said, Schenn is still trying to find his footing this season as he’s pointless in three games since returning from his three-game suspension that opened his season. Tuesday could be a perfect time for the Flyers’ 24-year-old forward to have the breakout game he’s been looking for.

Sabres: Buffalo’s offense begins and ends with Ryan O’Reilly. He leads the Sabres with three goals this season and is tied for the team lead in points with five. He’s got nine points (six goals and three assists) in 10 career meetings with the Flyers.

5. This and that
• The Flyers went 1-1-1 last season against the Sabres. The Sabres did win in Philadelphia in overtime last October.

• The Sabres enter Philadelphia on the end of a four-game road trip that saw them tour Western Canada. But the Sabres have had four days off while the Flyers played Monday night in Montreal and had to travel home.

• The Flyers haven’t lost to the Sabres at home in regulation in the regular season since March 5, 2011.

• The Flyers have been lethal in the second period this season, scoring 13 of their 20 goals.

• He hasn't found the back of the net yet this year, but Claude Giroux comes into Tuesday’s matchup on a five-game point streak with six assists over that stretch.

Watch: The Phillie Phanatic trashes ESPN, Skip Bayless

Watch: The Phillie Phanatic trashes ESPN, Skip Bayless

The Phillie Phanatic is just like you and me. He hates being stuck in an office.

ESPN posted the below video of the Phanatic being forced to wait around an office for some sort of interview and an idle Phanatic is a mischievous Phanatic.

He starts out by trashing former ESPNer Skip Bayless, finds some Mets' swag to desecrate, and finishes off by going all Office Space on a desk chair.

It's fun for the whole family.

Not sure why the ESPN people didn't just let him post for the Body Issue like the people over at Sports Illustrated.