Union Head to Texas to Face F.C. Dallas

Union Head to Texas to Face F.C. Dallas

The Union, who played the Galaxy to a 1-1 draw at home on Wednesday, have a short turnaround and are on the road tonight in Frisco, Texas where they'll play F.C. Dallas (8:30PM/The Comcast Network).

On Wednesday the Galaxy were without David Beckham. Tonight F.C. Dallas will be without reigning MLS MVP David Ferreira who suffered a gruesome broken ankle on April 23rd against Vancouver. At the time of the injury Ferreira was leading Dallas in scoring with three goals in six games.

With Ferreira out Dallas has been forced to rely on a more balanced
attack. They've had six players (other than Ferreira) score goals so far
this season, which helps to explain how they're tied for third in the
Western Conference despite playing without the league MVP.

A couple of familiar names appear on the Dallas roster. Former Union players Andrew Jacobson and Chris Seitz now wear the Dallas red and white. Seitz has yet to play, but Jacobson has appeared in seven games, starting six of them.

For the Union the story remains the same. It's lockdown defense and an offense missing in action. The game on Wednesday provided little in the way of evidence that things are going to change any time soon.

For 80+ minutes the Union had zero offense to speak of. It took yet another botched pass by an opposing player - this time it was Sean Franklin, against New York it was Tim Ream - for the Union to score a goal.

Yes, it was encouraging to see Danny Mwanga calmly beat Donovan Ricketts and open his account, but the offense didn't exactly show many positive signs. They struggle to connect on passes, are seemingly unable to put together any combination play, and appear unwilling to run at people. They've been entirely too negative in their play.

How futile has the Union offense been? Well, they're the lowest scoring team in Major League Soccer.

It's funny, I was at the game on Wednesday and had a "they've arrived as a true Philadelphia team" moment when the fans around me were yelling and pleading for the Union to go forward. They'd had enough and saw one too many back passes.

It reminded me of the fans at Flyers games who yell at the team to shoot while on the power play, or the people at Eagles games who scream at Andy Reid to run the ball. In this instance the fans in my section just wanted to see some positive play.

Fair or not their ire was mostly directed at Justin Mapp. When he arrived I wrote that he was a very talented player who had a tendency to drift for long stretches. Well, he's certainly lived up to the "drift for long stretches" part. He's been providing absolutely nothing out on the flank. I think it may be time to make a change there. Hopefully Peter Nowak watched the tape when he returned from Poland and has the same feeling.

Also, why not juggle things up top and insert Jack McInerney in place of Carlos Ruiz. They need to be more athletic up front. Ruiz just constantly sloooooooowwwwwsssss things down. You are not sacrificing anything defensively if you remove Ruiz. Please, for the love of offense make the change.

One final note. Although not listed on the injury report Mondragon suffered a groin injury on Wednesday. He managed to finish out the game, but it bears monitoring this evening. If he's unable to go the full ninety then we may see rookie first round pick Zac MacMath.

Here’s the lineup I hope we see tonight:
Mondragon, Harvey, Valdes, Califf, Williams, Daniel, Okugo, Carroll, Le
Toux, Mwanga, McInerney.

Final Score Prediction: Although I think the game could end 0-0 it goes against my offensive sensibilities to predict such a score line. So, with recent history as my guide, let's say 1-0 Union.

The Toni Stahl Memorial Union Player Most Likely To See Red: Faryd Mondragon. A goalie? Really? Well, hopefully he's fully fit, but watch out if Mondragon is forced to come out of his net to challenge a Dallas player in behind the Union back line. Pulling a player down in the box, seeing red, and giving up a PK would be the ultimate in the history of this award.

Temple cracks Top 25 in final CFP rankings, will play in Military Bowl

ap-temple.jpg
The Associated Press

Temple cracks Top 25 in final CFP rankings, will play in Military Bowl

After winning its first American Athletic Conference championship Saturday, Temple learned its postseason fate Sunday and it does not involve a New Year's Six bowl game.

The Owls will play Wake Forest in the Military Bowl on Dec. 27 in Annapolis, Maryland. Temple also finished No. 24 in the final College Football Playoff rankings and No. 23 in the AP poll.

At 10-3, Temple has its first back-to-back 10-win season in program history. It's also the first time the Owls have been ranked in consecutive seasons. Head coach Matt Rhule now has 28 wins as Temple's head coach, tying him with Bruce Arians' for the sixth-most in school history.

Wake Forest finished the season 6-6 and on a three-game losing streak, but two of those three loses came to No. 2 Clemson and No. 13 Louisville. The Deamon Deacons have lost five of their last six games.

Flyers-Predators 5 things: Going for longest win streak since 2014

Flyers-Predators 5 things: Going for longest win streak since 2014

Flyers (13-10-3) at Predators (11-8-4)
6 p.m. on CSN and CSNPhilly.com

The Flyers have won a season-high four games in a row. They'll try to make it five Sunday night when they visit the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena for the second game of a back-to-back set.

Let's take a look at five things you need to know.

1. Streaking like 2014?
Not only do the Flyers have a chance to extend their season-best winning streak, but they're also looking to win their most consecutive games since March 15-22, 2014, when they also won five straight.

The Flyers have put up strong showings in the back ends of back-to-backs, going 4-1-1 thus far.

“You just have to have the work ethic night in and night out," Steve Mason said Saturday after the Flyers' 3-1 win over the Blackhawks. "And, I think we were struggling to find that. There are games when we were swarming and giving teams no other option, and other nights we were chasing the puck.

"We have another tough test going to Nashville to play. So, we’re going to have to follow up with another great effort.” 

2. A Provorov encore?
Ivan Provorov's confidence has to be at his highest of the season.

In Saturday's win, the 19-year-old blueliner scored two goals in a 31-second span to double his goal total through the first 25 games.

Provorov said he thinks defense first, but the offensive production is a good sign.

“Score one goal in a game, it’s a good feeling. Score two in one shift, it’s unbelievable,” Provorov said.

“Every time you score, it’s like a confidence booster."

3. Predators finding stride
After losing eight of their first 11 games, Peter Laviolette's Predators have gotten on track, going 8-3-1 since.

Nashville ranks in the top half of the league in goals per game (3.00 — tied for fifth), goals against per game (2.61 — 15th), power-play percentage (22.6 — sixth) and penalty-kill percentage (84.5 — 10th).

Last time out, the Predators blew a 4-1 lead in the third period for a 5-4 overtime loss to the Devils on Saturday, so they should be extra focused.

4. Keep an eye on ...
Flyers: On Saturday, Brayden Schenn scored just his second goal in his past 18 games. Schenn can be streaky so maybe he feeds off that goal. He's also a career plus-4 against the Predators, with two goals and three assists in eight games.

Predators: Let's go P.K. Subban, who isn't exactly a favorite among Flyers fans. He's off to a nice start in his first season in Nashville with six goals and 10 assists, and eight points (three goals, five assists) in his last eight games.

5. This and that
• Flyers goalie Steve Mason is 7-7-5 with a 2.42 goals-against average and .916 save percentage in 20 career games against the Predators.

• Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne is 3-2-2 with a 2.91 goals-against average and .906 save percentage in seven career games against the Flyers.

• Claude Giroux is four assists away from passing Rick MacLeish (369) and Eric Lindros (369) for fifth on the Flyers’ all-time list.