Union have plenty of chips to play on SuperDraft day in Philly

Union have plenty of chips to play on SuperDraft day in Philly

Georgetown's Steve Neumann -- here at last week's MLS Combine -- is an interesting draft target for the Union, since he's a Council Rock North graduate and his family holds Union season tickets. He's already expressed a desire to play at PPL Park.

So, any news out there on the Union front?

It's been a weird 24 hours for the Union, what with trading their best center back for another center back and trying to sign a high-priced star only to have the league say they can't.

The Maurice Edu saga is not complete as of this writing, and may not be over by Thursday at noon when the 2014 Major League Soccer SuperDraft kicks off at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. That, in and of itself, is a shame. A shame because of course it would be nice to unveil Edu in front of what should be a throng of Union fans, but mostly because the Edu situation will impact what the Union do with their eight (EIGHT!) draft picks.

However, while WE may not know the conclusion of the Edu situation, I have to think Nick Sakiewicz and John Hackworth will at least have an idea how it will shake out before the draft. So from that standpoint, we'll just have to wait and see.

With that in mind, a few quick-hitters on Thursday's draft as well as one or two other rumors making the rounds:

  • The draft begins at noon at the Pa. Convention Center. If you're a Union fan who wants an excuse to day drink and have a great time, join the Sons of Ben at the Field House (inside the Convention Center and Market East Station) at 8:30 a.m. Admission to the draft is free. You can also meet the Union draft picks after the draft at the team's post-party at BRU, a few blocks from the Convention Center.
  • If you can't make it, the draft will air live at noon on ESPNNews or on the WatchESPN app.
  • As of right now, the Union will pick second and sixth in the first round, followed by picks at No. 25, 27, 44, 46, 52 and 63. I don't expect the Union to end the day with eight new players, however. Trades will happen.
  • Our friend Dave Zeitlin broke down a few names to look for in the first round. Since college soccer players are not household names, we'll save your time and really break it down tomorrow after we know for sure who's coming to town.
  • That being said, if you want to sound like you know your stuff and impress your friends: After trading Jeff Parke Tuesday, I'd expect the Union to take one of the two California center backs -- Steve Birnbaum or Christian Dean -- with the No. 2 pick. However, if they feel like one of them -- or another defender they like -- might fall to No. 6, maybe they take a chance on Maryland forward Patrick Mullins at No. 2. Mullins is a two-time reigning Hermann Trophy winner (soccer's Heisman) and, as Jay Bilas would say, likely has the greatest "upside" in the draft. He'd also be the 643rd Maryland grad on the roster.
  • Steve Neumann

    An interesting name on the board is midfielder Steve Neumann from Georgetown. Neumann is a Council Rock North graduate whose family has Union season tickets. He has said he would love to play for the Union, and that is not a factor I would take lightly if I were John Hackworth. A desire to play here and a comfort level here are not unimportant. Also: His mustache game is absolutely on point (see right).

  • A phrase you might hear a lot is "Generation adidas." This year, there are seven Generation adidas players in the draft. These are promising young players who have already agreed to contracts with the league. Why does this matter? If you draft one of these guys, his salary DOES NOT COUNT toward your salary cap for at least a year or two, until a player "graduates" from the program by playing enough minutes, etc. Christian Dean and Patrick Mullins ARE Generation adidas players. Birnbaum and Neumann are not. Just keep that in mind.
  • Don Garber

    If the league's apparent "blocking" of the Edu deal turns out to be true, MLS Commissioner Don Garber shouldn't count on an especially warm welcome from the Sons of Ben on Thursday. We've included a handy picture of Mr. Garber, in case you wish to boo him on the Broad Street Line.

In non-draft and non-Edu news:

Instant Replay: No. 22 Butler 74, No. 2 Villanova 66

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USA Today Images

Instant Replay: No. 22 Butler 74, No. 2 Villanova 66

BOX SCORE

VILLANOVA, Pa. – No. 22 Butler scored 18 straight points down the stretch and stunned No. 2 Villanova 74-66 Wednesday night at the Pavilion.

The loss was the third this year for the defending national champs and the second to Butler. It was also Villanova’s first loss on campus in more than four years.

Villanova led by as many as eight points early in the second half and by seven at 49-42 with 9½ minutes left before Butler scored 18 straight points over a 5½-minute span to take a 60-49 lead with four minutes left.

Villanova went scoreless from 10:35 left in the game to 4:05, a span of 6½ minutes.

Villanova cut the lead from 11 to four in the final minute but Butler made its final eight foul shots to secure its first win ever on the road against the Wildcats.

The loss was the first ever on campus for Villanova’s seniors. Villanova hadn’t lost at the Pavilion since February of 2013.

Sophomore Jalen Brunson shot 9 for 13 after his 7 for 7 against Seton Hall Saturday and finished with 24 points.

The rest of the Wildcats shot a combined 16 for 44.

Josh Hart scored 18 points on 7 for 18 shooting.

Kris Jenkins shot just 1 for 8 and 1 for 5 from three for three points, and Mikal Bridges also had three points on just 1 for 3 from the field.

Butler led 8-0 after 3½ minutes before Villanova outscored the Bulldogs 44-28 over the next 22½ minutes to take their biggest lead, 44-36, with 13 minutes left.

What it means 
Butler, which beat Villanova 66-58 on Jan. 4 in Indianapolis, completed a season sweep of Villanova. Butler was 0-7 before this year against the Wildcats.

Villanova fell to 26-3 and 13-3 in the Big East. Butler improved to 22-6 and 11-5, keeping alive its hopes of winning the Big East regular-season title.

One more Villanova win or Butler loss and Creighton loss would deliver the conference title and No. 1 seed in the conference tournament to the Wildcats.

The loss ended Villanova’s record 48-game winning streak at the Pavilion. The Wildcats’ last loss on campus was by a 55-52 score to Providence on Feb. 3, 2013.

Stat of the day
Hart, a 79 percent foul shooter, was 0 for 4 from the foul line and missed two front ends of one-and-ones.  

Turning point
The Wildcats led by six when Kelan Martin and Tyler Lewis made threes 45 seconds apart to tie the game at 49 and start that 18-0 run. Villanova never got the momentum back.

By the numbers
• Martin led Butler with 16 points and Kamar Baldwin added 15 before fouling out.

• Butler shot 7 for 13 from three in the second half and 10 for 25 overall.

• Villanova was just 5 for 19 from three.

• Villanova committed 10 of its 15 turnovers in the first half 

• Villanova shot just 10 for 16 from the foul line, with seven of the 10 makes coming in the final 79 seconds 

• Butler had 21 assists on 27 baskets, Villanova had eight assists on 23 baskets 

• Villanova scored 17 points in the game’s final 4:05 

• Senior post Darryl Reynolds, Villanova’s second-leading rebounder at 5.5 per game, sat out a fourth straight game with a rib injury. He’s considered day to day.

What’s next
On Saturday afternoon, Villanova plays its final game at the Pavilion until November of 2018, facing Creighton at 3 p.m.

Villanova will play most of its home games at the Wells Fargo Center next year.

The Wildcats finish the regular season at Georgetown on March 4 and open play in the Big East Tournament five days later.

Instant Replay: Capitals 4, Flyers 1

Instant Replay: Capitals 4, Flyers 1

BOX SCORE

Fresh off their poor Western Canada road trip, the Flyers faced the top team in the NHL for a Wednesday Night Rivalry tilt at the Wells Fargo Center.
 
The last time the Washington Capitals met the Flyers in mid-January, the Caps humiliated them, 5-0, in D.C.
 
No rout this time, but the Caps still defeated the Flyers, 4-1, as more precious points slipped away in the search for a wild card. 
 
Evgeny Kuznetsov had two goals for the Caps. His second was a crusher, coming in the final 2:01 of the second period to give Washington a 3-1 lead.
 
The Flyers are 3-6-1 since coming out of the All-Star break and 9-15-4 since their 10-game win streak.
 
Coach’s challenge
Barry Trotz challenged Jakub Voracek’s goal 23 seconds into the game for goaltender interference. It was an easy goal to overturn, too, as Dale Weise clearly pushed Braden Holtby aside before Voracek scored.
 
No goal
Trailing 2-0, Flyers rookie defenseman Ivan Provorov thought he scored in the opening minute of the second period. The game stopped and the Flyers celebrated while the officials huddled. Replays showed the puck hit the crossbar.
 
Points
Nick Backstrom’s first-period goal was his fifth goal and 15th point in his last 10 games.
 
Notable goals
Kuznetsov’s power-play goal went in and out of the net so quickly, no one was really certain it was a goal. That is why Sean Couturier remained in the box a good 30 seconds after it was scored.
 
Goalie report
Michal Neuvirth was making his fifth straight in goal.

Holtby had an excellent stop on Pierre-Edouard Bellemare’s backhander at the right post with 6:18 left in the first period.
 
Power play
The Flyers were 0-for-2. They mixed up their first unit and changed the personnel back to its former self, even putting Shayne Gostisbehere back on the point and Voracek back at the half-wall. Their second power play had several passes just a hair off for a clean shot.
 
Penalty kill
The Caps had the Flyers chasing their passes all over the ice on their power play. They were 1-for-2 in the game.
 
Injuries
The Caps lost defenseman Matt Niskanen in second period with a lower-body injury.
 
Fights
There were several scrums on one board play in the second period but no fights.
 
Scratches
Forwards Jordan Weal (concussion) and Travis Konecny (left ankle and knee), defensemen Nick Schultz (healthy) and Michael Del Zotto (healthy).
 
Up next
The Flyers practice on Thursday 11 a.m. at Skate Zone. They leave later that day for Pittsburgh and will practice Friday at 5 p.m. at Heinz Field for the Stadium Series outdoor game against the Penguins on Saturday.