Union Head West Again, Face Champs

Union Head West Again, Face Champs

The Union (1-4) travel to Utah to face defending MLS Cup
Champions Real Salt Lake (2-3-1) (4PM/6ABC). This is the second cross country
trip in as many weeks for the Union, who were completely outclassed last week
in a 3-1 loss to the Galaxy in Los Angeles. Once again the Union will be
without the services of a starter, as midfielder Stefani Miglioranizi will
serve a one game suspension for his careless straight red card against LA last
week.

Goalkeeper Chris Seitz will be facing his former team for
the first time. Prior to joining the Union he served as the back-up to RSL’s
MLS playoff hero Nick Rimando. It remains unclear whether Sebastien Le Toux
will return to the lineup following the left knee injury he suffered a couple
of weeks ago in the US Open Cup loss to New York. It was obvious just how much
they missed Le Toux against LA. They sorely missed his tireless running and
finishing ability. If Le Toux’s unable to go will young Jack McInerney, fresh
off scoring his first MLS goal last week, get the starting nod?

RSL features a handful of recognizable players. Midfielder
Kyle Beckerman is probably their most complete player. Beckerman is their
string-puller in the middle of the field. He teams up in the central midfield
with Javier Morales, who leads RSL in goals scored with three. Up top RSL
“features” Robbie Findley, who did nothing with the extended chance USMNT Bob
Bradley gave him to impress as a potential replacement for Charlie Davies.
Simply put, Findley was invisible in his time with the USMNT. Apparently his
lack of form has continued as he has yet to find the back of the net for his
club side.

What should you look for from Peter Nowak’s boys? Well, a
simple goal (again) is to finish the game with eleven men on the field.
However, until they show they can stay away from the booking s on a consistent
basis I am rolling out a new feature in these game previews. I am going to
choose one player each game who I think is going to be sent off.

This week’s player
most likely to see red: Andrew Jacobson. Congrats, Andrew.

What else will I be looking for? Well, if Le Toux is unable
to go I want to see if his replacement is able to establish something
resembling the chemistry he has with Alejandro Moreno and Fred. Those three
guys combine incredibly well and always seem to have a sense as to what the
others are going to do in terms of the runs they’ll make, or balls they’re
likely to play. Also, who steps in and plays in place of Miglioranzi? I’d like
to see Kyle Nakazawa get some playing time. He was one of the lone bright spots
against LA. More likely though we’ll see a midfield of Fred, Jacobson, Shea
Salinas, and Roger Torres. The back four should remain unchanged with Jordan
Harvey, Danny Califf, Michael Orozco, and Cristian Arrieta.

My goals for the game? Keep eleven men on the field, do a
better job defending corners, let Torres play more than 50 minutes, and
continue to see what you can get out of Jack Mac.

Final Score
Predcition: 2-1 RSL

Pete Mackanin on Odubel Herrera's slump: 'He needs to battle his way out'

Pete Mackanin on Odubel Herrera's slump: 'He needs to battle his way out'

After an 0-for-5 day at the plate, Odubel Herrera isn't heading to the bench a day later.

He's leading off. 

Pete Mackanin chose to move the slumping centerfielder atop the lineup card for Friday's series opener against the Reds despite Herrera's striking out in all five plate appearances Thursday.

"I think he's a .290-plus hitter as a leadoff man and I'm not going to sit him," Mackanin said pregame. "He needs to battle his way out. You figure you're the leadoff hitter once a game. After that, it's wide open."

While he hasn't batted leadoff this season, Herrera spent the majority of his time in that spot last season. In 76 games there, he batted .285 with a .359 OBP and .417 slugging percentage. 

The leadoff hitter this season has been Cesar Hernandez, who has a day off with a groin pull he's dealt with the last 10 days. Herrera primarily has been the No. 3 hitter this season and his average is down to .226 with 49 strikeouts to just 11 walks. 

Mackanin hopes the leadoff role can help change Herrera's approach at the plate.

"He was drawing a lot of walks at leadoff, so whether he has that mindset or not, I'm not sure," the manager said. "I just want to get him as many at-bats as possible. We need to get him going. We need him and [Maikel] Franco to get going."

May specifically has been tough on Herrera. He has four hits in his last 36 at-bats and has seven strikeouts in his last two games. He has just seven hits in 22 games this month. 

"I think he's at the point where he's grinding and sometimes when you grind, sometimes there's that feeling where you get lost," Mackanin said. "I've been in situations as a hitter where I've gone up to the plate saying, 'I don't care where it is. I'm going up there and just hacking.' Because you start thinking and that's not working.

"And you look for a pitch and then all of a sudden you say I'm going to take a pitch to get a look at and it's strike one. Then he throws you a nasty slider and that's strike two and your plan is out the window. So I've gone up to the plate myself saying, 'I'm just looking down the middle and swinging. I'm not thinking.'"

When asked, Mackanin said the team had not discussed demoting Herrera or Franco to the minors to take pressure off the duo.

While Herrera tries to hit his way back into a groove, Howie Kendrick is in the midst of working his way back to the majors. He was hit by pitch twice in a rehab appearance Thursday but is back in the lineup Friday in left field. 

Mackanin said Kendrick needed four days minimum in his rehab assignment and will therefore play Friday and Saturday before the team sees how he feels.

The manager also said the team would give more playing time to backup catcher Andrew Knapp. He started consecutive games for the first time on Tuesday and Wednesday. 

"I'm going to try and see him as much as possible and keep him as sharp as possible instead of once a week," Mackanin said. "That's tough to hit, once a week. It's tough to hit twice a week if you don't hit back-to-back. There's no ulterior motive."

Report: Brett Brown accuses longtime friend of defrauding him of $750,000

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Report: Brett Brown accuses longtime friend of defrauding him of $750,000

Sixers head coach Brett Brown is in Australia this week, where he has accused longtime friend and former Australian men's national team assistant coach Shane Heal of defrauding him of $750,000, according to the Australian Associated Press.

Brown invested $250,000 into each of three companies for which Heal was the sole director. Brown wasn't given a legal title regarding the companies and didn't know the specifics of how the money would be used.

"I assumed that the money was going to be used for what Shane told me it was going to be used for," Brown said. "Because it was a friend that I had for 25 years."

Heal was charged last year by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission following an investigation relating to alleged misconduct in 2008, 2009 and 2010, according to the AAP.

The sides return to court in Brisbane on July 20.

Heal played in the NBA for the Minnesota Timberwolves in 1996-97 and was with the San Antonio Spurs in 2003.