"We traded who?!?": Why you shouldn't panic about the Union trading Jack McInerney

"We traded who?!?": Why you shouldn't panic about the Union trading Jack McInerney

Andrew Wenger, right, lunges for the ball as Seattle Sounders' DeAndre Yedlin looks on.

Even if you're the most casual Union fan, the name you know is young striker Jack McInerney. I'd guess if you asked any Philly sports fan to name one Union player, he's the name you'd get 90 percent of the time.

As of today, he's no longer a Union player.

On Friday, the Union shipped the 21-year-old striker to the Montreal Impact in exchange for 23-year-old striker Andrew Wenger.

McInerney bid a heartfelt farewell to Union fans, with a perfect understanding of how he expects to be received upon his return (August 9).

 

On the surface, this seems like a strange move to many Union fans. At this time last year, McInerney was scoring at will, on his way to a team-high 12 goals for the year. Things were very different, though, at the end of the season. McInerney scored just twice after June 1, and only started four of the last nine Union games. McInerney finished with 25 goals in his Union career, but...

 

Wenger (on Twitter @andrewwenger), who is from Lancaster and played for Reading United (now a minor league affiliate of the Union), was the first overall pick of the 2012 MLS SuperDraft and tallied six goals in 18 starts.

(The Union now have three No. 1 overall picks on the roster: Wenger (2012), Maurice Edu (2007) and Andre Blake (2014)).

Those numbers won't wow you, but Wenger also was never "the man" in Montreal, often playing alongside Marco Di Vaio, who doesn't exactly love sharing the ball.

You may be upset with McInerney leaving, and I'm not saying it's a total "win" trade yet either. But let's put it this way, fans have been begging for years for the Union to live in the now and stop always focusing on the future.

That's exactly what they're doing with this trade. Anyone who tries the "typical Union, getting rid of a player everyone likes" argument is not paying attention. Hackworth was quite candid in his call with the media on Friday (quotes from our friend Dave Zeitlin).

"It’s one of those days that this business requires, that’s the way i’ll put it. You don’t like some of the moves you have to make in order for your team to be successful. But if you believe you’re doing the right thing, you have to do it. We want to wish Jack well in everything he does in the future and at the same time we’re excited. We have a player in Andrew Wenger that we feel will be really good for us now and in the long term.

The move has everything to do with the "right here, right now" attitude that John Hackworth is operating under this season. This is it for him, and he knows it. He doesn't have to win a title this year to keep his job, but he can't wait around for McInerney to figure out whatever has ailed him for the last 10 months, or learn to play in the team's new 4-3-3 formation.

For the first time in the Union's short history, the team has a steady formation and relatively set lineup that seems to be working. The only part that isn't working is the finishing in the final third. Wenger won't score 20 goals this year, but it was time for a change.

After years with an evolving midfield, the Union are now midfield-centric. With Edu, Vincent Nogueira and Cristian Maidana on the squad, it's now time to build around them. And the 4-3-3 formation is generating possession in the midfield and chances on the attack. In fact, many of the good chances in the last few games have come from midfielders like Nogueira.

Even before the season started, I (and many others) wondered if McInerney could work in the 4-3-3 formation. After four games, that worry has only grown stronger. I don't pretend to know much about Wenger, but people who do seem to think he could be a better fit in the 4-3-3. Hackworth clearly agrees

Right now we it as a straight swap -- forward for forward. He is more of a prototypical No. 9 than Jack was or is. That’s where we see him. But he is versatile enough, which we really like. You could put him on the left or right, or drop him into the midfield and he’d be effective. I’ve watched him for a long time.

FYI: Wenger is suspended this week after a red-card tackle last week. So you'll likely see Casey start against Chicago on Saturday (5 p.m. - Comcast SportsNet). Amobi Okugo gave him a gentle ribbing Friday for the tackle.

 

Finally, there seem to be many who think McInerney already had his eyes on bigger and better things, even if his recent play doesn't scream "Europe." It was also understood by those "in the know" that McInerney was going to ask for a hefty raise to stay here when his contract was up.

The longer McInerney tried to play in the 4-3-3 formation, the more his flaws (at least in that formation) were going to be exposed. And the more his flaws were exposed, the more his value was going to plummet. In fact, if Conor Casey is truly fully healthy, I was about to call for McInerney to be left out of the starting XI. Not that I think Casey is ideal in the 4-3-3, either, but it was time for a change of pace.

So, Friday's trade may not be a popular move, especially with many casual fans, and I'm not 100 percent sold just yet. But it's nice to see the Union living in the now, instead of angling for more allocation money.

Trace McSorley named Penn State's starting quarterback

Trace McSorley named Penn State's starting quarterback

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Trace McSorley will start at quarterback for Penn State when the Nittany Lions open against Kent State on Sept 3.

Coach James Franklin settled on the sophomore after McSorley battled redshirt freshman Tommy Stevens for the job through the spring and summer.

"We're excited what he brings to our offense," Franklin said Wednesday. "I think the biggest thing is he's been the backup quarterback for two years. He has game experience and there's value in that. You've been able to see it already, you're not projecting as much."

McSorley will make his first career start at home against Kent State.

"It's a lot of weight off my shoulders," McSorley said. "Over the whole offseason, Tommy and I were pushing each other. This team will be better because of how this competition went with us pushing each other."

Both quarterbacks are strong runners, but McSorley's experience gave him the edge.

His shiftiness was utilized in practice throughout his tenure as Christian Hackenberg's backup. He usually led the scout team against the top defense, offering a similar look to the opposing running quarterbacks Penn State would play.

Although he's played sparingly on Saturdays in that time, McSorley saw meaningful snaps in Penn State's bowl game in relief of an injured Hackenberg. Then, McSorley completed 14 of 17 passes for 142 yards and two touchdowns, ran seven times for 31 yards and nearly led a comeback against Georgia.

Now, McSorley will try and turn around a unit that's ranked 105th and 114th in total offense the last two seasons. He'll do so in a spread-based offense designed for a mobile quarterback and led by new offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead.

"I think the best thing about the way he runs the ball is he's savvy," linebacker Jason Cabinda said. "He sets up his cuts. You play a guy who's a statue in the pocket and you cover well, he gets sacked. Now we have another element. Not only do you have to worry about covering guys, but when that four or five seconds is up there's that option of scrambling, another aspect of the play you have to worry about."

NBA Notes: City officials declare Kobe Bryant Day in Los Angeles

NBA Notes: City officials declare Kobe Bryant Day in Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES -- Lakers fans packed Los Angeles City Hall chambers to witness the mayor and other officials declare Kobe Bryant Day in honor of the retired NBA superstar.

Councilman Jose Huizar said Wednesday's declaration is the city's way of thanking Bryant for his excellence on the court and philanthropic efforts across Los Angeles.

Bryant attended with his pregnant wife and their two daughters. He called the experience "surreal" and jokingly said someone would have to explain to his unborn daughter why "daddy has a day named for him."

Fans cheered and chanted Bryant's name as he was presented a framed proclamation by Mayor Eric Garcetti and council President Herb Wesson.

Bryant played his entire 20-season career with the Lakers, leading them to five NBA championships.

Lakers: No. 2 pick Brandon Ingram, vet Yi Jianlian signed
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- The Los Angeles Lakers have signed top draft pick Brandon Ingram and Chinese NBA veteran Yi Jianlian and re-signed center Tarik Black.

Ingram was the No. 2 overall pick in this summer's draft. The Duke product's rookie contract is expected to be worth more than $23 million over four years.

The 28-year-old Yi hasn't played in the NBA since 2011-12 with Dallas. The former No. 6 overall draft pick by Milwaukee spent five seasons in the NBA, averaging a career-best 12.0 points and 7.2 rebounds for New Jersey in 2009-10.

Yi spent the past four seasons with the Chinese Basketball Association's Guangdong Southern Tigers. He is an eight-time MVP of the CBA, winning four championships.

The 6-foot-11 Yi averaged 20.4 points per game for China at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

Black has averaged 5.3 points and 5.2 rebounds in two seasons with the Lakers.

Timberwolves: Towns chosen as face of 2K mobile app
MINNEAPOLIS -- Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns has been tabbed to be the face of 2K's mobile companion application to NBA 2K17 video game, which is set to launch on Sept. 8.

The reigning rookie of the year will be the icon cover athlete for MyNBA2K17, the latest in a series of high-profile endorsements for Towns. The NBA 2K franchise has been the No. 1 selling NBA video game for the last eight years.

"I've been a dedicated NBA 2K fan since I was young, and being selected as the face of MyNBA2K17 is an incredible milestone this early in my career," Towns said on Wednesday. "Playing MyNBA2K and NBA2K is an essential part of my offseason and keeps me grounded during the season with all my travel. I love that I will have the opportunity to connect further with my fans through MyNBA2K17."

The free app connects players to the NBA 2K17 console game and includes facial scanning technology. That allows fans to design players for the game on Xbox One or PlayStation 4 using their own facial features. The app also allows users to watch 2KTV on their mobile devices and play quick games and season tournaments against users around the world.

Towns also has deals with Nike and Samsung among others and made a guest appearance on the Disney television show "Gamer's Guide to Pretty Much Everything" this summer.

On the court, he is teaming with Andrew Wiggins, Zach LaVine, Ricky Rubio and Kris Dunn to try to end the Timberwolves' 12-year playoff drought.

Questions loom for Mark Sanchez entering Broncos' 3rd preseason game

Questions loom for Mark Sanchez entering Broncos' 3rd preseason game

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- The Denver Broncos face critical decisions two weeks before the Super Bowl champions open the season.

They have more questions than answers heading into the third preseason game, none more glaring than at quarterback. Trevor Siemian was named the starter ahead of veteran Mark Sanchez for the game against the Los Angeles Rams on Saturday, and the full-time job appears to be his to lose.

Siemian, in his second year out of Northwestern, said he isn't looking beyond the Rams.

"I'm not reading too much into it," he said of his second straight start.

Siemian was limited in practice Tuesday because of a bruised right shoulder but he was throwing Wednesday. Coach Gary Kubiak said Siemian did 80 percent of his usual workload and is still on track to be the starter against the Rams.

"He looked good," Kubiak said. "I think he was a little sore coming out but he worked through it and hopefully he'll be better (Thursday)."

Siemian was 10 of 14 for 75 yards and led the Broncos to a touchdown on their first drive of Saturday's game against San Francisco. He dinged his shoulder when he tried to make a tackle on safety Ed Reid, who intercepted him and returned it for a touchdown early in the second quarter.

"I was a little sore and it got a little more sore as it went on. I didn't feel anything right away," Siemian said. "I've gotten better each day. If I'm playing (Saturday) I won't be holding back."

Sanchez struggled in last Saturday's loss to San Francisco. He was 10 of 17 for 120 yards, fumbled twice and was nearly picked off. He said after the game that he "squandered an opportunity" to separate himself from Siemian as the No. 1 quarterback. He clarified that comment Wednesday.

"Squandered an opportunity that game," he said. "It wasn't like, `OK, that's it, throw in the towel.' A lot of people interpreted it that way. That's never been my attitude. I don't quit. I'll take this thing down the wire if that's what it takes, and that's what it looks like, so let's go."

Sanchez wouldn't speculate when asked if this is his last chance to be a starter in the NFL.

"That's a big-picture question," he said. "I'm still in the moment."

The offensive line is still unsettled, most notably right guard. Ty Sambrailo was the projected starter but a hyperextended elbow has sidelined him for most of training camp. Darrion Weems was playing well in place of Sambrailo but suffered a concussion against San Francisco.

Sambrailo is still wearing a brace and has not taken part in practice. Weems is in the concussion protocol.

C.J. Anderson is the clear No. 1 running back but veteran Ronnie Hillman's spot on the roster is in jeopardy because of the play of rookie Devontae Booker and second-year back Kapri Bibbs.

Hillman led the Broncos in rushing last year with 863 yards but Anderson was the main back in the postseason. Anderson rushed for 90 yards and a score in the Super Bowl while Hillman had just five attempts for no gain.

Hillman has responded after being pushed by Booker and Bibbs.

"I thought Ronnie had his most productive game and week last week," Kubiak said. "Ronnie is pushing hard. Kapri has been consistent and Kapri has been a really good special teams player. Those are the things that are really important."

Notes
WR Bennie Fowler had the brace removed from his fractured right elbow and did some work on the field before practice Wednesday. Kubiak said Fowler could be ready for the season opener against Carolina. ... C James Ferentz is out for a few weeks after having a knee scoped Monday. ... DE Derek Wolfe missed his second straight practice to deal with a family issue, Kubiak said. ... CB Aqib Talib returned to practice after missing Tuesday due to illness.