Vancouver Whitecaps In Town For Union Home Opener

Vancouver Whitecaps In Town For Union Home Opener

I have to admit that after looking at it for the first time it was a
bit jarring to see the Union listed at the top of the Eastern Conference
table. Sure, it's been just one game, but it certainly was different
seeing a 0 in the loss column. Being on the good side of .500 for the
first time in franchise history isn't bad at all.

They'll put their first ever winning record on the line today against
the expansion Vancouver Whitecaps (4PM/6ABC). Vancouver is coming off
one of the more impressive debuts ever. They thrashed Toronto 4-2 in
front of a raucous home crowd. Under the radar designated player Eric
Hassli paid immediate dividends scoring two goals for the Whitecaps.

The Union season opener in Houston was notable for a number of reasons.
First, they picked up a road win, which was all too rare last season.
Second, they kept a clean sheet. Third, they won a game where they had
little possession and even fewer quality scoring chances. That would
have never happened last season.

Despite only being forced to make two saves I feel confident in
saying that the clean sheet does not happen without Faryd Mondragon in
goal. I know I was more confident simply watching the game with him in
net. With that being said I cannot imagine the calm the Union players
felt with the big keeper between the sticks.

Mondragon expertly managed his back four. He controlled his box. At
one point he even pulled Carlos Valdes away from a small pushing match.
The guy was in total control. Again, it's only been one game, but if
this is what we can expect the signing will be an incredible success.

Another bright spot was the central midfield combination of Stefani
Miglioranzi and Brian Carroll. They did a nice job of patrolling the
center of the pitch and making life difficult for the Dyanmo. The
flipside to that was the frightening regularity with which Brad Davis
roamed free down the flanks. The Union need to shut down those sorts of
runs.

Offensively the Union did not have much punch. I am not a huge fan of
playing Sebastien Le Toux up top, and would much prefer he played in an
advanced midfield role. Will Peter Nowak pair Danny Mwanga and Carlos
Ruiz up front today? With Justin Mapp ailing with a hamstring injury
it's likely that Le Toux will indeed move to a midfield position.

Regardless of who Nowak puts there they won't have to deal with Jay
DeMerit, who will be in New Jersey on national team duty as the U.S.
host Argentina in a friendly. Michael Boxhall, who started against
Toronto alongside DeMerit in the center of the backline, will also be
missing as he's away representing New Zealand during this international
window.

Davide Chiumiento, who was all over the field for the Whitecaps,
helping to create a ton of chances and picking up two assists, is
alternately listed as doubtful/out for today (hamstring strain). Shea
Salinas, the former Union man, also will not play as he deals with a
knee sprain.

This is a tough spot for the Whitecaps. They are coming off the high
of the first win in franchise history. They had to hop on a plane and
travel from one coast to the other. They're also facing a team Union in
front of a rabid home openining crowd.

Final Score Prediction: The U reward the PPL faithful with a 2-1 home win.

The Toni Stahl Memorial Union Player Most Likely To See Red: I'll go with Valdes, who showed a bit of a temper last week.

Carson Wentz goes through lengthy pregame warmup in Indy

Carson Wentz goes through lengthy pregame warmup in Indy

INDIANAPOLIS -- Carson Wentz isn't playing on Saturday night against the Colts, but the No. 2 overall pick might have a chance to play in the preseason finale on Thursday, which has been the hope all along. 

Wentz went through a lengthy pregame warmup -- about an hour -- on Saturday as his teammates prepared to face Andrew Luck and the Colts. Long after Sam Bradford and Chase Daniel went into the locker room, Wentz continued to throw. 

This week's pregame warmup was much more intense than the one he was put through last week in Pittsburgh. On Saturday, he dropped back to throw and looked smooth throwing on the run, even across his body. Quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo put Wentz through the hour-long workout on Saturday. Leaving the field after the workout, offensive coordinator Frank Reich agreed that Wentz looked good. 

The real test will be the X-ray, because no matter how good he feels or how much he lobbies, he'll need to be cleared before he's allowed to return. Shortly after the injury, Wentz said practice would be determined by his pain tolerance and game action would be determined by medical personnel. If he doesn't play against the Jets, it could be a while before Eagles fans get to see their quarterback of the future. 

Another hurdle is the short week of practice thanks to a Thursday game coming after a Saturday game. 

"It's interesting because next week we only got really two days of practice," Doug Pederson said earlier in the week. "We'll see. We'll evaluate him through the weekend. [We’ll] take him on this trip and work him out a little bit when we get to Indy [Indianapolis], and then again next Monday and Tuesday. We've got to at least get a day's work with him in order for him to go in the game next Thursday."

Along with Wentz, there are several other Eagles who won't play against the Colts: Aaron Grymes, Alex McCalister, Joe Walker, Jordan Matthews, Isaac Seumalo and Mike Martin.

Tonight's Lineup: After hitting 6th Friday, Odubel Herrera moves up to 2-hole

Tonight's Lineup: After hitting 6th Friday, Odubel Herrera moves up to 2-hole

After watching his club get smacked around in a 9-4 loss to the Mets on Friday, Phillies manager Pete Mackanin has tinkered with his lineup for Saturday's game at Citi Field.

Odubel Herrera moves up to the two-hole after hitting sixth Friday, while Aaron Altherr goes from second to third and Jimmy Paredes gets the start in left and bats seventh. Ryan Howard starts again at first base and bats fifth.

Herrera, who has been struggling since the All-Star break with a .257 average, has lost his leadoff spot to Cesar Hernandez but is starting to find his swing again.

In the last seven days, Herrera is 5 for 17 with a double and a run scored. In August, the centerfielder is hitting .288 with two homers and five RBIs.

Altherr, who played left field Friday, moves over to right field and Peter Bourjos gets the night off. Altherr is hitting .255 with four home runs and 19 RBIs on the season.

Here is the full Phillies lineup:

1. Cesar Hernandez, 2B
2. Odubel Herrera, CF
3. Aaron Altherr, RF
4. Maikel Franco, 3B
5. Ryan Howard, 1B
6. Cameron Rupp, C
7. Jimmy Paredes, LF
8. Freddy Galvis, SS
9. Jeremy Hellickson, P

For more on tonight's's game, check out Steven Tydings' game notes.

Jake Metz, Soul credit strong 4th-quarter defensive effort for championship win

Jake Metz, Soul credit strong 4th-quarter defensive effort for championship win

GLENDALE, Ariz. – Despite the Soul leading by three touchdowns early in ArenaBowl XXIX, there was little cheering from the their bench.

Given the volatility that is Arena League football and the frequency from which teams can strike, the approach remained resolute and determined. Defensive tackle Jake Metz kept the mindset of a scoreless game and could not stop hearing words coming from Ron Jaworski, a highly vocal partner in the Soul’s ownership.

“He kept yelling that offense gets headlines but defense wins championships,” said Metz, who currently lives in Schwenksville, Montgomery County, and went to Shippensburg University. “That resounded with me, and brought the championship.”

Metz and his defensive teammates then went out and shut down a highly hazardous and explosive Arizona Rattlers offensive unit en route to a 56-42 win (see story). Led by quarter Nick Davila, the only three-time MVP in Arena Football League history, the Rattlers could manage only seven points in a critical fourth quarter.

At the same time, Metz recovered a fumble by Davila with the Soul holding a slim six-point margin with just under six minutes to play. That turnover was the key point in the Soul’s eventual win, and cemented the role of the defense as a shut-down unit.

On the subsequent possession, Soul quarterback Dan Raudabaugh connected with Shaun Kauleinamoku on a 30-yard scoring strike. That created a 14-point comfort zone and the final margin of victory.

“These players deserve this championship,” Soul head coach Clint Dolezel said. “This is a first class organization and ownership gives the players a first-class experience. That way, we can attract great players, and with great players comes success.”

In capturing the league title Friday night, the victory was the second in franchise history. In 2008, the Soul and Phillies each won championships, and that was the last time a professional team captured a title in Philadelphia.

Metz remembers the Phillies' win over the Rays, and pointed out, “I went to those games as a kid.” That championship stuck with the 6-foot-6, 265 pounder, and helped to forge a championship mentality.

Early in the fourth quarter, Arizona caught the Soul at 42-42. From that point, Raudabaugh directed two scoring drives, and along with Metz’s important fumble recovery, carried the Soul to the title.

“It’s all about how you respond,” said Raudabaugh, who finished with 20 for 36 for 278 yards and six touchdowns. “Granted, they have a very explosive team, but we were never out it. They did come back, but we had an answer for them.”

The answer was a strong defense which Dolezel indicated was playing at their peak just prior to the title game.

Defensive back Tracy Belton, the AFL defensive player of the year and DB Dwayne Hollis, whose fumble recovery for a touchdown early in the game was another key defensive play, clearly showed how a defense can carry a team to a league title. That was the effort the Soul brought together in an environment as unpredictable as the Arena Football League.