Union Head to Texas to Face F.C. Dallas

Union Head to Texas to Face F.C. Dallas

The Union, who played the Galaxy to a 1-1 draw at home on Wednesday, have a short turnaround and are on the road tonight in Frisco, Texas where they'll play F.C. Dallas (8:30PM/The Comcast Network).

On Wednesday the Galaxy were without David Beckham. Tonight F.C. Dallas will be without reigning MLS MVP David Ferreira who suffered a gruesome broken ankle on April 23rd against Vancouver. At the time of the injury Ferreira was leading Dallas in scoring with three goals in six games.

With Ferreira out Dallas has been forced to rely on a more balanced
attack. They've had six players (other than Ferreira) score goals so far
this season, which helps to explain how they're tied for third in the
Western Conference despite playing without the league MVP.

A couple of familiar names appear on the Dallas roster. Former Union players Andrew Jacobson and Chris Seitz now wear the Dallas red and white. Seitz has yet to play, but Jacobson has appeared in seven games, starting six of them.

For the Union the story remains the same. It's lockdown defense and an offense missing in action. The game on Wednesday provided little in the way of evidence that things are going to change any time soon.

For 80+ minutes the Union had zero offense to speak of. It took yet another botched pass by an opposing player - this time it was Sean Franklin, against New York it was Tim Ream - for the Union to score a goal.

Yes, it was encouraging to see Danny Mwanga calmly beat Donovan Ricketts and open his account, but the offense didn't exactly show many positive signs. They struggle to connect on passes, are seemingly unable to put together any combination play, and appear unwilling to run at people. They've been entirely too negative in their play.

How futile has the Union offense been? Well, they're the lowest scoring team in Major League Soccer.

It's funny, I was at the game on Wednesday and had a "they've arrived as a true Philadelphia team" moment when the fans around me were yelling and pleading for the Union to go forward. They'd had enough and saw one too many back passes.

It reminded me of the fans at Flyers games who yell at the team to shoot while on the power play, or the people at Eagles games who scream at Andy Reid to run the ball. In this instance the fans in my section just wanted to see some positive play.

Fair or not their ire was mostly directed at Justin Mapp. When he arrived I wrote that he was a very talented player who had a tendency to drift for long stretches. Well, he's certainly lived up to the "drift for long stretches" part. He's been providing absolutely nothing out on the flank. I think it may be time to make a change there. Hopefully Peter Nowak watched the tape when he returned from Poland and has the same feeling.

Also, why not juggle things up top and insert Jack McInerney in place of Carlos Ruiz. They need to be more athletic up front. Ruiz just constantly sloooooooowwwwwsssss things down. You are not sacrificing anything defensively if you remove Ruiz. Please, for the love of offense make the change.

One final note. Although not listed on the injury report Mondragon suffered a groin injury on Wednesday. He managed to finish out the game, but it bears monitoring this evening. If he's unable to go the full ninety then we may see rookie first round pick Zac MacMath.

Here’s the lineup I hope we see tonight:
Mondragon, Harvey, Valdes, Califf, Williams, Daniel, Okugo, Carroll, Le
Toux, Mwanga, McInerney.

Final Score Prediction: Although I think the game could end 0-0 it goes against my offensive sensibilities to predict such a score line. So, with recent history as my guide, let's say 1-0 Union.

The Toni Stahl Memorial Union Player Most Likely To See Red: Faryd Mondragon. A goalie? Really? Well, hopefully he's fully fit, but watch out if Mondragon is forced to come out of his net to challenge a Dallas player in behind the Union back line. Pulling a player down in the box, seeing red, and giving up a PK would be the ultimate in the history of this award.

Eagles Mailbag: Bennie Logan, top WRs in draft, Jeremy Maclin return?

Eagles Mailbag: Bennie Logan, top WRs in draft, Jeremy Maclin return?

There hasn't been much Eagles talk recently. The last few weeks have been pretty dead. 

That's about to change soon enough. Next week, the football world will take over Indianapolis for the combine and just after that, free agency will begin on March 9. After that, the draft isn't too far away. 

So let's jump into your mailbag questions: 

Yeah, I think there's a real chance Bennie Logan isn't an Eagle next year. Howie Roseman has been pretty consistent in saying he wants Logan to return, but it's fair to wonder about the price. Logan has now proven that he can play in a 4-3 or a 3-4 scheme, so there will be plenty of teams interested. 

If the Eagles lose Logan, their defense will take a big hit. There's not really a way around that. He's a good player and has been an important part of the line. But with a ton of money devoted to the defensive line over the next few years -- even assuming Connor Barwin isn't back -- will the Eagles pay another? I'm not so sure. 

And I agree that Logan was really good against the run last year. But I think his real value is in being great against the run while also being able to generate some pass rush. I think Beau Allen can be a decent run-stuffer, but he's clearly not the same player as Logan. 

I can't give a real answer here. Sorry. While I don't wholeheartedly agree with the best player available notion, the Eagles also can't prioritize one need over the other in this scenario. There will be either 13 or 14 picks before the Eagles are on the board. 

Really, it's going to depend on which players are left. Are Mike Williams and Corey Davis on the board? How about the top corners? There's a lot of them. If the player the Eagles really want at one of those positions is off the board, they could look elsewhere. And it's not automatic they'll take a receiver or a cornerback. What if they opt for an edge rusher? 

But getting back to corner vs. receiver, there are a couple thoughts: 

1. They'll pick a corner because receivers are far from a sure thing. Roseman made it a point to talk about how the 2014 draft changed expectations for rookie receivers. And the Eagles haven't had much luck recently drafting receivers in the first round. And Roseman has also said that while it might make sense to grab a first-round corner in the second round because of depth, there's often a run at positions where a draft is strong. It would be better to just get the best one. 

2. On the flip side of that, maybe they'll pick a receiver with the idea that at least one really good corner will be on the board in the second round. That would maximize value, especially if they get the receiver they want in the first round. 

That's a long way to say: I don't think it'll be about position as much as it will be about the specific player at 14 or 15. 

This is a tough one. I really think the margin separating these two is so close that the combine could flip them for me. But for now, I'm going with Mike Williams. 

Clemson listed him at 6-3, 225 and I think he's going to come close to that at the combine. And he might not have Corey Davis' speed or quick twitch, but he makes up for it. I really want to see how he performs at the combine; I expect it to confirm my belief that he's the top receiver in the draft. Davis will reportedly not run at the combine because of an ankle injury. 

It's possible a team like the Eagles could fall in love with Davis' deep threat ability. That's clearly what they value right now. But ultimately, I think Williams is the top guy. 

I don't think Ryan Mathews will be back next season. He's 29, coming off a serious neck injury and is way too expensive. The Eagles can save $4 million by cutting him. I expect that to happen and for the Eagles to try to find some younger, healthier talent. 

Jeremy Maclin, DeSean Jackson, LeSean McCoy! Let's get the band back together! 

I understand why the Maclin questions are rolling in. An ESPN column recently suggested that the Chiefs could cut the former Eagle. Maclin is familiar with the Eagles' offense and Doug Pederson, which means the move would make some sense. 

But from a football standpoint, Jackson would give the Eagles what they need more than Maclin. Over the last couple years, Maclin has really been utilized in the slot, which happens to be where the Eagles' only decent receiver plays. Sure, Pederson will move around his receivers, but there are probably better fits out there for the Eagles than Maclin. If he does become a free agent, though, it's at least worth inquiring. 

Former Eagles linebacker DeMeco Ryans joins 49ers coaching staff

Former Eagles linebacker DeMeco Ryans joins 49ers coaching staff

About a year ago, while in Indianapolis for the combine, the Eagles cut veteran linebacker DeMeco Ryans. 

Ryans has finally found his next job ... as a coach. 

The 32-year-old former linebacker has been named a defensive quality control coach on Kyle Shanahan's staff in San Francisco. Shanahan was on the Texans' staff for the first four years of Ryans' pro career. Niners defensive coordinator Robert Saleh was also on that Houston staff. 

After the Eagles cut him last Feb. 24, Ryans was out of the league in 2016 after 10 NFL seasons. He played the first six years of his career in Houston, where he was a two-time Pro Bowler, before joining the Eagles through a trade in 2012. 

While the Eagles cut Ryans after the 2015 season to save $3.5 million in cap space, they made a point to go out of their way to praise him on his way out. He was very well-thought of in the locker room and throughout the building. 

While Ryans played one season under Andy Reid, he quickly became a favorite of Chip Kelly, who frequently called Ryans the "Mufasa" of the Eagles' defense. 

Kelly didn't forget about Ryans when he went to San Francisco to coach the 49ers for the 2016 season. In fact, in Kelly's questionnaire in the NFL's 2016 information guide, Kelly listed Ryans as a player who'd make a great head coach.