Union's Edu named to preliminary United States World Cup squad

Union's Edu named to preliminary United States World Cup squad

Maurice Edu is headed to training camp with the USMNT.

When Maurice Edu signed with the Philadelphia Union over the winter, we hinted at the outside chance he might be bound for Brazil with the United States Men's National Team this summer for the World Cup.

Monday, that became more than just an outside chance.

Edu was named to the 30-man preliminary roster by head coach Jurgen Klinsmann. Those 30 players will report to Palo Alto, California on Wednesday, with 23 players making the final roster for Brazil. That squad must be announced by June 2.

This means Edu will miss Saturday's home date with New England -- not ideal for a team in the midst of its worst run in five years of existence.

UPDATE: Jake Kaplan of the Philly Daily News just tweeted:

The UMSNT has a warm-up game scheduled for May 27, which means all 30 players could still be with the team at that point. Should Edu make the 23-man roster, the Union will be without him for (at least) road games at LA Galaxy (May 25) and Chivas USA (May 31), and a home game with Vancouver (June 7).

Major League Soccer is taking a break during the group stage of the World Cup, but should the United States reach the knockout stage, Edu could also miss games against New England (June 28), FC Dallas (July 4) and Colorado (July 12).

Edu is one of ten midfielders on the preliminary roster.

Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Alejandro Bedoya (Nantes), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Joe Corona (Club Tijuana), Brad Davis (Houston Dynamo), Mix Diskerud (Rosenborg), Maurice Edu (Philadelphia Union), Julian Green (Bayern Munich), Jermaine Jones (Besiktas), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)

In my opinion, Beckerman, Bradley, Jones and Zusi are definite locks for the squad.  Landon Donovan is also on the squad, listed as a forward, but is usually midfielder.

That means Edu is competing with Bedoya, Corona, Davis, Diskerud and Green for spots.

Nine midfielders made the 2010 World Cup squad -- including Edu -- and his flexibility is definitely working in his favor, since he can play defense in a pinch. Right now, I think Diskerud, Davis and Green are all but guaranteed a spot, in addition to the four locks mentioned above. So, Edu could definitely be one of the seven men staying home.

I have a hunch -- nothing more than that, at this point -- that Edu's form and flexibility will earn a seat on the plane.

Steve Mason rediscovers himself in New York just before Flyers return

Steve Mason rediscovers himself in New York just before Flyers return

It had been a while since Steve Mason saw himself.

Walking into the Barclays Center on Sunday, the Flyers’ goalie was 0-6-2 with a 4.03 goals-against average and .844 save percentage over his last 10 appearances (see more recent Flyers numbers and stats).

A far cry from how Mason truly sees himself in net.

But heading into Wednesday’s rivalry clash with the Rangers, Mason will have something to build on, something he couldn’t say since Dec. 21 — the last time he had earned a victory. He’s fresh off his first win in over a month, a gigantic one for Mason considering all the key moments on Sunday the Flyers hope invigorate his confidence.

Without numerous clutch stops from their goalie, the Flyers don’t come back from two goals down to beat the Islanders, 3-2, in overtime. Mason made four saves  — three on four-time All-Star John Tavares — in just over a minute of a third-period power play. The Flyers ended up having to kill two New York man advantages in the final 10 minutes of regulation in order to force overtime.

The extra session is when Mason was just as good, if not better, stoning Tavares on a breakaway attempt that had game-winner written all over it. Mason made four saves in overtime after 13 in the third period.

“I was happy with the way that, personally, this game went for myself,” Mason said Sunday. “It’s been a tough stretch and this is more the type of game that I expect of myself. In recent games, the team was lacking the big saves and tonight it shows what kind of difference it can make.”

It was a massive performance heading into a massive three-game stretch against the Rangers, Maple Leafs and Hurricanes.

“Mase made some huge saves for us,” Simmonds said. “It allowed us to get back in that game.

“It’s not just Mase [with the] ups and downs. Everyone in here has been kind of fighting it and squeezing sticks pretty tight. That one felt good and I think Mase led the charge for sure.”

Mason understands just one game doesn’t turn around a season.

“It’s nice to feel good after a game,” Mason said. “At the same time, whether you’re winning or losing, you have to have a short mindset and get ready for the next one.”

That brings the Flyers to Madison Square Garden Wednesday to face the Rangers, who they’ve lost five straight games to dating back to last season. Mason hasn’t had much luck against New York this season, allowing seven goals in two losses with an .860 save percentage. However, in 2015-16, Mason put up a 1.74 goals-against average and .941 save percentage in five games against the Rangers.

“That’s going to be a tough game going into MSG,” Mason said Tuesday (see story).

The good thing: Mason was in New York two days ago, remembering what he can be.

Manute Bol's 7-foot, 17-year-old son dominates in HS season debut

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Manute Bol's 7-foot, 17-year-old son dominates in HS season debut

Bol Bol, the 17-year-old son of the late Manute Bol, is a top high school basketball prospect with offers from schools like Arizona, Kansas and Creighton. This highlight tape should give you an idea why.
 
Bol, whose father played in the NBA for parts of 12 seasons, including 215 games for the Sixers, now attends the famed Mater Dei High School in California and played in his first game of the season this past weekend. Listed as the No. 16 overall prospect in the 2018 recruiting class by Scout, Bol started his season off with a big 21-point, 10-rebound effort.
 
Take a look at the highlight tape from the 6-foot-11 Bol and expect to see him carry on his father’s legacy on the court at a major NCAA college basketball program soon.