Union Head West Looking to Go to the Top of the Eastern Conference Table

Union Head West Looking to Go to the Top of the Eastern Conference Table

The Major League Soccer schedule makers did Peter Nowak's team no favors when they decided to send the Union cross country for a Sunday night game on the heels of a midweek match at home against D.C. United. Fresh off of their 3-2 win over D.C. on Thursday, the Union visit the Home Depot Center where they'll face Chivas USA (8PM/The Comcast Network).

These two teams last met June 25th, when the Union topped Chivas USA 3-2 at PPL Park. Each team has made a significant change to its crop of fowards since that late June game in Chester. Carlos Ruiz, who scored the second Union goal that day, is no longer with the team. Juan Pablo Angel, who was a member of the L.A. Galaxy that day, now wears the red and white striped Chivas kit.

Angel has rediscovered his form since joining the Goats. He's coming off of consecutive two-goal games. He's scored six goals in six games since being traded to Chivas in mid-August. Angel is not the only goal scorer riding a recent hot streak into this game.

Sebastien Le Toux has been nothing short of ridiculous over the last month and half, scoring nine goals over his last eight games - including two goals on Thursday against D.C. Le Toux's confidence is apparent with every touch of the ball. Combine that confidence with his off the charts work rate and you've got one of the more dangerous players in MLS right now.

Speaking of in-form players, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the recent play of Michael Farfan. Whether it's lofting long balls over the opposing back line, or burying game-winning shots from outside the box, Farfan has been fantastic. True, he did a poor job of marking United's Dwayne De Rosario on a corner kick, but Michael Farfan brings a ton to the table. He's responsible defensively, and is creative going forward.

Including tonight, the Union only have four games left in the regular season. With a win tonight the Union can take sole possession of first place in the East.

Lineup I'd Like to See Tonight: Zac MacMath, Gabriel Farfan, Danny Califf, Carlos Valdes, Sheanon Williams, Brian Carroll, Amobi Okugo, Roger Torres, Michael Farfan Sebastien Le Toux, Veljko Paunovic.

Final Score Prediction: This is an incredibly difficult spot for the Union. A cross-country flight following a mid-week game? The Union are just 3-6-5 on the road this season. Three points would be nice, but I see this one ending 2-2.

The Toni Stahl Memorial Player Most Likely to See Red: They've been so well behaved recently. I am not sure where to go with this one. I'll say MacMath pulls down Angel on a clear goal scoring opportunity.

Tonight's lineup: Aaron Altherr bats 5th for Phillies in season debut

Tonight's lineup: Aaron Altherr bats 5th for Phillies in season debut

Aaron Altherr, activated by the Phillies Thursday afternoon, bats fifth and plays right field in his season debut in Atlanta. 

Sometimes one hitter can make a lineup look much different. Altherr's presence in the middle of the Phillies order provides them with three power hitters, something they've seldom had this season. He provides some protection out of the five-hole for Tommy Joseph and Maikel Franco, who precede him.

Cesar Hernandez remains in the leadoff spot for the Phillies after going 3 for 4 with a walk Wednesday to raise his batting average to .290. 

Cody Asche may soon lose playing time as the Phils' outfield picture gets more crowded, but for now his lineup spot appears safe. With Peter Bourjos on the DL, Asche gets the start in left field and bats eighth.

1. Cesar Hernandez, 2B
2. Odubel Herrera, CF
3. Maikel Franco, 3B
4. Tommy Joseph, 1B
5. Aaron Altherr, RF
6. Carlos Ruiz, C
7. Freddy Galvis, SS
8. Cody Asche, LF
9. Aaron Nola, P

Phillies reinstate Aaron Altherr, place Peter Bourjos on 15-day DL

Phillies reinstate Aaron Altherr, place Peter Bourjos on 15-day DL

The player who was projected to be the Phillies' opening day rightfielder and No. 5 hitter is finally ready to play. The Phils on Thursday reinstated outfielder Aaron Altherr from the disabled list after he missed the season's first 103 games with a wrist injury.

Altherr takes the 25-man roster spot of Peter Bourjos, who was placed on the 15-day DL with a right shoulder sprain.

Altherr, 25, impressed with power late last season, hitting .241/.338/.489 for the Phillies with 11 doubles, four triples, five home runs and 22 RBIs in 161 plate appearances. 

He tore a tendon sheath in his wrist on a diving catch attempt early in spring training, had surgery and missed about four months in total. The Phils were patient with Altherr during his rehab assignment, giving him the full 20 days before making the decision to add him to the active roster. In 13 games at four different levels during the rehab stint, Altherr went 14 for 41 (.341) with two doubles, a homer and seven walks.

Bourjos injured his shoulder running into the wall at Marlins Park earlier this week. The injury will keep him from being traded ahead of the Aug. 1 non-waiver deadline, but Bourjos could be moved in August. He hit .410 in June but was slumping before the injury, hitting .148 over his last 14 games.

Marlins reinstate 2B Dee Gordon after 80-game drug ban

Marlins reinstate 2B Dee Gordon after 80-game drug ban

MIAMI — Miami Marlins second baseman Dee Gordon issued an apology on Twitter addressed primarily to his young fans as he returned from an 80-game suspension for a positive drug test.

"I know I let you down, and I'm sorry," Gordon said in a video. "Complacency led me to this, and I'm hurt. I urge you guys to be more responsible than I am about what goes into your body. I wouldn't wish this on anyone."

Gordon, who won the NL batting and stolen base titles last year, was reinstated before Thursday's game against St. Louis.

Gordon tested positive for two performance-enhancing substances and was suspended in late April. Gordon acknowledged in April that he unknowingly took the banned substances.

Marlins president David Samson said then that the second baseman had betrayed the team and its fans. On Wednesday, Samson said the Marlins are glad to have Gordon back.

"I believe that America and our fans and our players and us, we're a pretty forgiving society," Samson said. "It's important Dee ask for that forgiveness, and he has, and he'll receive that. He's got to continue to work to get himself back in with his teammates and the fans and my son."

In his video, the 5-foot-11, 170-pound Gordon said he learned from his mistake.

"I thought being the smallest guy I would never fail a drug test," he said. "I didn't pay attention at all and I didn't meet the standards. That's my fault and no one else's. But don't give up on me."

To make room on the roster for Gordon, the Marlins designated for assignment infielder Don Kelly, who had two triples in Sunday's victory. Even without Gordon, the Marlins have remained in contention for their first playoff berth since 2003.

Last year Gordon batted .333, stole 58 bases, became an All-Star for the second time and won his first Gold Glove. The season earned him a $50 million, five-year contract in January.