What They're Saying: Two New Union Faces

What They're Saying: Two New Union Faces

We're not going to pretend we know much about either Faryd Mondragon or Carlos Valdes, but we do know how to link to stories with more information if you're interested in learning more about the two Colombian players the Union welcomed to Philadelphia with a nice little ceremony at Fado yesterday (I'm still waiting for the Phillies to have their Cliff Lee welcome home ceremony at Good Dog).

While it sounds as though these two veterans will help to shore up two problem areas for the Union from last season, our guess is their name recognition won't factor for much with casual fans or be enough on the back of the jersey to counter the Bimbo on the front and help to boost merch sales. But will their presence on the pitch lead to a few more wins and possibly a shot at a second-season playoff bid? That's probably the more important question.

CSNPhilly.com has the quotes from Union leader Peter Nowak: “With Faryd and Carlos, I believe that will be enough to really shut this door defensively and stop conceding so many goals,” said Union coach Peter Nowak, during the team’s official press conference at Fado Irish Pub in Center City. “We know that defense was an issue in the past and we wanted to make sure that in every game we make it tough for the other team to score goals.”

The Delco Times outlines where exactly Mondragon has played throughout his career: "An experienced goalkeeper hails from Cali, Colombia and has played in some of the world’s most recognizable leagues. He began his professional career in 1990 with Deportivo Cali of the Colombian First Division, and subsequently joined several other Colombian teams before landing with Argentinean First Division club Atletico Independiente in 1995. After his time in Colombia and Argentina, Mondragón moved to Europe where he starred in Spain’s La Liga (Real Zaragoza FC, 1999), the French Ligue 1 (FC Metz, 2000-‘01), the Turkish First Division (Galatasaray S.K., 2001-’07, won titles in 2002 and 2006), and finally the Bundesliga (FC Cologne, 2007-’10)."

Bob Grotz notes how the Union fans have a tendency to get a tad overexcited: "The way the fans carried on Thursday at Fado Irish Pub, you would have thought the Philadelphia Union just agreed to terms with David Beckham, not Faryd Mondragon, the 39-year-old goalkeeper from Colombia."

Philly Socer Page has a photo gallery (see photo above) of yesterday's affair at Fado.

Finally, and a bit unrelated, but the Brotherly Game notes that our favorite name on the Union may not return. So long, Fred?

No. 16 Villanova vs. No. 23 Albany: With or without Bednarczyk, can Wildcats rebound?


No. 16 Villanova vs. No. 23 Albany: With or without Bednarczyk, can Wildcats rebound?

No. 16 Villanova (5-2, 3-1) vs. No. 23 Albany (4-2, 1-2)
Villanova Stadium, Villanova, Pa.
Saturday, 3:30 p.m.

Fresh off a rare loss, Villanova looks to get back on track during its homecoming game against another nationally ranked foe. Here’s a look at the matchup:

Scouting Villanova
The Wildcats saw their five-game winning streak snapped in resounding fashion as they were shut out for the first time since 2004 in a 23-0 loss to Richmond. Sophomore quarterback Zach Bednarczyk left the game in the second quarter with an injury, a big reason why the Wildcats finished with just 222 yards of total offense. But despite the final score, Villanova’s defense played well again with Austin Calitro and Rob Rolle each hitting double digits in tackles. The unit is ranked fifth in the FCS in scoring defense (16.3 points per game) and sixth in total defense (237.9 yards per game) and has scored four defensive touchdowns.

Scouting Albany
After winning their first four games, the Great Danes lost their next two, a 36-30 triple-overtime heartbreaker to Richmond followed by a 20-16 setback to Maine. Sophomore quarterback Neven Sussman led Albany with 187 passing yards and 75 rushing yards. But for the season, their offensive strength has been with sophomore running back Elijah Ibitokun-Hanks, who’s second in the CAA in rushing, averaging 105 yards per game. Albany’s defense is only behind Villanova in points allowed per game (19.3) in the CAA, but interestingly enough is last in total defense (420.2 yards per game). The Great Danes lead the league in turnover margin (plus-15), led by linebacker Michael Nicastro and safety Mason Gray with three interceptions apiece.

Series history
Villanova has only played Albany twice, beating the Great Danes, 48-31, in 2014 and steamrolling it, 37-0, last season. 

Storyline to watch
The big question going in is whether Bednarczyk will play with Villanova saying it will be a game-time decision after the QB suffered a concussion last week. If he can’t go, Adeyemi DaSilva will get the start in his place after replacing him in the second quarter vs. Richmond. DaSilva is a promising player but Bednarczyk was coming into his own this season and his absence would naturally be a difficult one. Of course, the Wildcats have been through this before with Bednarczyk taking over as the starter last season when star John Robertson went down with an injury of his own.

What’s at stake?
Villanova still has a chance to win the CAA but probably can’t afford a second loss in the league. And of course, there’s nothing better than winning in front of a homecoming crowd.

A lot depends on whether Bednarczyk can play … but even if he doesn’t, the Wildcats’ dominant defense may be enough to get the job done. 

Villanova 20, Albany 17

Anthem singer at Sixers-Heat game kneels during performance

Anthem singer at Sixers-Heat game kneels during performance

MIAMI — A woman performing the national anthem before an NBA preseason game in Miami on Friday night did so while kneeling at midcourt, and opening her jacket to show a shirt with the phrase "Black Lives Matter."

The singer was identified by the Heat as Denasia Lawrence. It was unclear if she remained in the arena after the performance, and messages left for her were not immediately returned.

Heat players and coaches stood side-by-side for the anthem, all with their arms linked as has been their custom during the preseason. Many had their heads down as Lawrence sang, and the team released a statement saying it had no advance knowledge that she planned to kneel.

"We felt as a basketball team that we would do something united, so that was our focus," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "Throughout all of this, I think the most important thing that has come out is the very poignant, thoughtful dialogue. We've had great dialogue within our walls here and hopefully this will lead to action."

The anthem issue has been a major topic in the sports world in recent months, starting with the decision by San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick to not stand for its playing. Kaepernick cited racial injustice and police brutality among the reasons for his protest, and athletes from many sports -- and many levels, from youth all the way to professional -- have followed his lead in various ways.

"All I can say is what we've seen in multiple preseason games so far is our players standing for the national anthem," NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in New York earlier Friday, at a news conference following the league's board of governors meetings. "It would be my hope that they would continue to stand for the national anthem. I think that is the appropriate thing to do."

The NBA has a rule calling for players and coaches to stand during the anthem.

Heat guard Wayne Ellington often speaks about the need to curb gun violence, after his father was shot and killed two years ago. He had his eyes closed for most of the anthem Friday, as per his own custom, though was aware of Lawrence's actions.

"At the end of the day, to each his own," Ellington said. "If she feels like that's the way she wants to stand for it, then more power to her."

Making a statement in the manner that Lawrence did Friday is rare, but not unheard of in recent weeks.

When the Sacramento Kings played their first home preseason game earlier this month, anthem singer Leah Tysse dropped to one knee as she finished singing the song.

Tysse is white. Lawrence is black.

"I love and honor my country as deeply as anyone yet it is my responsibility as an American to speak up against injustice as it affects my fellow Americans," Tysse wrote on Facebook. "I have sung the anthem before but this time taking a knee felt like the most patriotic thing I could do. I cannot idly stand by as black people are unlawfully profiled, harassed and killed by our law enforcement over and over and without a drop of accountability."