You Go Call Your Crew

You Go Call Your Crew

Two months. It's been two months since the Union last won a league game. They are in the midst of an eight game winless streak. Somehow they sit third in the Eastern Conference. Amazingly, if the season ended today they'd qualify for the MLS playoffs.

Tonight they face the Columbus Crew, who sit atop the Eastern Conference, five points clear of the Union (7:30PM/The Comcast Network).

Peter Nowak's side will face a shorthanded Crew team. Tony Tchani, Eddie Gaven and Emilio Renteria are out due to injury. Emmanuel Ekpo is out due to a red card suspension. Chad Marshall, although likely to play tonight, is coming off of a hip injury which forced him out of Wednesday's 2-2 tie against Houston.

[Update: Starting Lineup Released and Listed After The Jump...]

If ever the Crew were susceptible, it's tonight. The question remains whether the struggling Union can take advantage and pick up their first ever win against Columbus.

As Yogi Berra said, it's getting late early for the Union. After tonight the Union have just five games left on the schedule. They need to figure things out and get a move on.

Can they finally play a complete game? They'll need to if they hope to gain ground on the conference leader. Many people are calling this the biggest game in franchise history.

What can they do to win tonight? Well, finishing their chances would be nice. They certainly had the better of play last week against Portland, but were unable to score and settled for a 0-0 tie.

They'll also need their midfield to be active and actually be a conduit from the back line to the forwards. Their midfielders will need to provide some width and play dangerous balls into the box. Finally, they'll need to show a killer instinct in the final third.

The Union are running out of time to figure things out. Someone needs to step up and take ownership of this team. Sebastien Le Toux has been their most dangerous player offensively. Someone, anyone, needs to raise their game and take over.

It may be a bit much to ask of him considering he only joined the team a little over a month ago, but Freddy Adu needs to provide that creative attacking presence. The back line needs to play like they did last week in front of rookie keeper Zac MacMath.

The margin of error in Major League Soccer is not that great. In order to win you need to do the little things. Doing the little things is what made the Union so successful early in the season. If they have any hope of making it to the postseason they desperately need to get back to doing those little things.

Lineup I'd like to see tonight: Zac MacMath, Sheanon Williams, Danny Califf, Carlos Valdes, Gabe Farfan, Brian Carroll, Freddy Adu, Kyle Nakazawa, Roger Torres, Sebastien Le Toux, Danny Mwanga

Final Score Prediction: Desperationc carries the day as the Union finally earn the three points with a 2-1 win.

The Toni Stahl Memorial Player Most Likely To See Red: Brian Carroll. Because why not?

UPDATE: The Union announced their starting lineup. It looks like this: MacMath; G. Farfan, Califf, Valdes, Williams; Carroll, Adu, Torres, Pfeffer; Le Toux, M. Farfan.

Yes, Peter Nowak is starting 16 year old homegrown player Zach Pfeffer in one of the most important games in the young history of the franchise. Wow. No pressure, Zach. Also, Michael Farfan is getting the starting nod up top ahead of Danny Mwanga and Veljko Pauno. Okkkkkkk, experimenting with the lineup.

 

Best of NBA: Wall, Wizards top Knicks for 4th straight win

Best of NBA: Wall, Wizards top Knicks for 4th straight win

NEW YORK -- John Wall had 29 points and 13 assists, scoring Washington's final four points in the last 32 seconds as the surging Wizards beat the New York Knicks 113-110 on Thursday night.

Otto Porter Jr. made six 3-pointers for the second straight night and added 23 points, but the Wizards needed big plays from Wall down the stretch to win their fourth in a row.

He made two free throws to put Washington back on top after New York had rallied to take a 110-109 lead, then rebounded Carmelo Anthony's miss and left all the Knicks in his dust as he raced down the floor for a dunk with 13.7 seconds to play.

Anthony finished with 34 points but Wall stole the ball from Brandon Jennings to prevent the Knicks from attempting a 3-pointer that could have tied it (see full recap).

Leonard scores 34 to lead Spurs over Nuggets
SAN ANTONIO -- Kawhi Leonard scored 34 points, rookie Dejounte Murray added a season-high 24 and the San Antonio Spurs overcame a pregame injury to Pau Gasol in beating the Denver Nuggets 118-104 on Thursday night.

Denver's three-game winning streak was snapped despite a career-high 35 points from Nikola Jokic.

Leonard had his fifth straight 30-point performance, right after learning he will start for the Western Conference in the All-Star Game for the second consecutive season.

The Spurs were unexpectedly without Gasol, Tony Parker and then coach Gregg Popovich. Gasol and Parker were both late scratches due to injury, and Popovich was ejected for the first time this season.

Gasol broke the ring finger on his left (non-shooting) hand by jamming it against Kyle Anderson's shoulder during pregame warmups while attempting a running hook. The 16-year veteran center immediately clutched his hand and left the court.

X-rays revealed the break, and the Spurs said there is no timeline for Gasol's return.

Irving, James lead Cavs over Suns
CLEVELAND -- Kyrie Irving scored 26 points, All-Star teammate LeBron James had 21 points and 15 assists, and the Cleveland Cavaliers looked more like themselves at home in a 118-103 win over the Phoenix Suns on Thursday night.

The Cavs were back in Quicken Loans Arena following a six-game road trip (their longest of the season) that concluded with an embarrassing 35-point loss at Golden State. But on their home floor, they had better offensive balance and ball movement while improving to 30-11 -- the same record Cleveland had at the halfway point of its 2016 NBA championship season.

Channing Frye scored 18, Iman Shumpert 17 and James Jones 14 while filling in for star forward Kevin Love, still bothered by back spasms.

Tyson Chandler had 22 points and 16 rebounds, but the Suns lost for the fourth time in five games (see full recap).

Best of NHL: Surging Capitals rock Blues in St. Louis

Best of NHL: Surging Capitals rock Blues in St. Louis

ST. LOUIS -- Andre Burakovsky, T.J. Oshie and Evgeny Kuznetsov each had a goal and an assist to lead the Washington Capitals to a 7-3 victory over the St. Louis Blues on Thursday night.

Jay beagle, Brett Connolly, Marcus Johansson and Justin Williams also scored, and Alex Ovechkin and Daniel Winnik each had two assists to help Washington earn at least a point in its 12th straight game (10-0-2) for an NHL-best 66 points.

Braden Holtby bounced back from his roughest outing of the season with 22 saves. Holtby was pulled after giving up a season-high five goals on 26 shots in an 8-7 overtime loss at Pittsburgh on Monday. He improved to 22-8-4 and 5-0 lifetime against St. Louis (see full recap).

Grabner scores 2 goals, Rangers top Leafs
TORONTO -- Michael Grabner scored two goals against his former team, helping the New York Rangers snap a three-game losing streak with a 5-2 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday night.

Pavel Buchnevich, Brady Skjei and J.T. Miller added goals for New York, and Henrik Lundqvist made 23 saves following a series of rough outings.

Tyler Bozak and Zach Hyman scored for Toronto, which had a three-game winning streak stopped. The Maple Leafs had earned 21 of a possible 26 points in their previous 13 games (10-2-1). Frederik Andersen gave up four goals on 40 shots (see full recap).

Tavares leads Islanders to shutout of Stars
NEW YORK -- Getting a new coach this week didn't change things much for the Islanders -- and oddly enough, that's a good thing for New York.

John Tavares narrowly missed out on his second hat trick in a week, Thomas Greiss got his second straight shutout and the Islanders beat the Dallas Stars 3-0 on Thursday night in their first game since firing longtime coach Jack Capuano.

New York canned Capuano in the middle of his seventh season Tuesday, replacing him on an interim basis with Doug Weight (see full recap).

Niederreiter, Wild dodge letdown, edge Coyotes
ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Nino Niederreiter had two power-play goals and an assist, including the go-ahead score for the Minnesota Wild with 7:06 remaining in a 4-3 victory over Arizona on Thursday night after the Coyotes came back from a two-goal deficit.

With Shane Doan in the penalty box for hooking, Niederreiter knocked in a nifty redirect of Mikael Granlund's slap shot for the winner. Devan Dubnyk stopped 20 shots for the Wild, who are 18-2-2 in their last 22 games.

Louis Domingue made 21 saves for the Coyotes, who lost their fourth in a row and fell to 2-12-1 in their last 15 games starting with a 4-1 loss to Minnesota in Arizona on Dec. 17 (see full recap).