Vancouver Whitecaps In Town For Union Home Opener

Vancouver Whitecaps In Town For Union Home Opener

I have to admit that after looking at it for the first time it was a
bit jarring to see the Union listed at the top of the Eastern Conference
table. Sure, it's been just one game, but it certainly was different
seeing a 0 in the loss column. Being on the good side of .500 for the
first time in franchise history isn't bad at all.

They'll put their first ever winning record on the line today against
the expansion Vancouver Whitecaps (4PM/6ABC). Vancouver is coming off
one of the more impressive debuts ever. They thrashed Toronto 4-2 in
front of a raucous home crowd. Under the radar designated player Eric
Hassli paid immediate dividends scoring two goals for the Whitecaps.

The Union season opener in Houston was notable for a number of reasons.
First, they picked up a road win, which was all too rare last season.
Second, they kept a clean sheet. Third, they won a game where they had
little possession and even fewer quality scoring chances. That would
have never happened last season.

Despite only being forced to make two saves I feel confident in
saying that the clean sheet does not happen without Faryd Mondragon in
goal. I know I was more confident simply watching the game with him in
net. With that being said I cannot imagine the calm the Union players
felt with the big keeper between the sticks.

Mondragon expertly managed his back four. He controlled his box. At
one point he even pulled Carlos Valdes away from a small pushing match.
The guy was in total control. Again, it's only been one game, but if
this is what we can expect the signing will be an incredible success.

Another bright spot was the central midfield combination of Stefani
Miglioranzi and Brian Carroll. They did a nice job of patrolling the
center of the pitch and making life difficult for the Dyanmo. The
flipside to that was the frightening regularity with which Brad Davis
roamed free down the flanks. The Union need to shut down those sorts of
runs.

Offensively the Union did not have much punch. I am not a huge fan of
playing Sebastien Le Toux up top, and would much prefer he played in an
advanced midfield role. Will Peter Nowak pair Danny Mwanga and Carlos
Ruiz up front today? With Justin Mapp ailing with a hamstring injury
it's likely that Le Toux will indeed move to a midfield position.

Regardless of who Nowak puts there they won't have to deal with Jay
DeMerit, who will be in New Jersey on national team duty as the U.S.
host Argentina in a friendly. Michael Boxhall, who started against
Toronto alongside DeMerit in the center of the backline, will also be
missing as he's away representing New Zealand during this international
window.

Davide Chiumiento, who was all over the field for the Whitecaps,
helping to create a ton of chances and picking up two assists, is
alternately listed as doubtful/out for today (hamstring strain). Shea
Salinas, the former Union man, also will not play as he deals with a
knee sprain.

This is a tough spot for the Whitecaps. They are coming off the high
of the first win in franchise history. They had to hop on a plane and
travel from one coast to the other. They're also facing a team Union in
front of a rabid home openining crowd.

Final Score Prediction: The U reward the PPL faithful with a 2-1 home win.

The Toni Stahl Memorial Union Player Most Likely To See Red: I'll go with Valdes, who showed a bit of a temper last week.

Phillies manager Pete Mackanin: Adam Morgan is a definite bullpen candidate

Phillies manager Pete Mackanin: Adam Morgan is a definite bullpen candidate

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Just pitch.
 
Don’t worry about the role.
 
Just pitch.
 
That’s Adam Morgan’s mindset this spring.
 
“I’m just trying to show whoever needs to see it that I can be an asset to this team,” the left-hander said after his spring debut against the New York Yankees on Saturday (see story). “I’m just keeping it simple that way. I’m not trying to go out for that fifth (starting) spot. If the fifth spot opens up, I’d be more than willing to do that. If they want to put me in the bullpen, I’d be more than willing to do that. If they want me to be the backup catcher, I’ll be the backup catcher.”
 
The Phillies have plenty of candidates for backup catcher.
 
And the top five spots in their starting rotation, barring an unforeseen development, are accounted for.
 
But there is a way for Morgan to make this team.
 
“He’s definitely a bullpen candidate,” manager Pete Mackanin said.
 
Mackanin is on record as saying he’d like to have two lefties in what likely will be a seven-man bullpen. It might not work out that way, but that would be Mackanin’s preference.
 
Morgan is one of what appears to be four candidates along with Joely Rodriguez, Cesar Ramos and Sean Burnett. Ramos and Burnett are experienced major-league veterans in camp on minor-league contracts. Rodriguez is the only pure lefty reliever on the 40-man roster. Morgan, of course, is on the 40-man roster, but he’s mainly been a starter in his career.

There’s a long way to go in spring training and it would not be surprising to see general manager Matt Klentak add to the list of lefty relief candidates with some type of pickup before the end of camp.
 
But for now, it’s just these four.
 
Morgan, who turns 27 on Monday, started and pitched two scoreless innings against the Yankees on Saturday and will likely continue to have his innings stretched out throughout the Grapefruit League season, just in case he’s needed as a starter.

Ramos and Rodriguez both pitched an inning Saturday. Ramos allowed a hit and a run. Rodriguez had a clean inning. Burnett was tagged for two hits and two runs on Friday.
 
Morgan made 21 starts for the Phillies last season. He also made two relief appearances and finished the season with a 6.04 ERA. He was sent to Triple A in July and returned in mid-August. He made nine starts after returning and pitched at least six innings and gave up two or fewer earned runs in four of them.
 
During his time in Triple A, Morgan started throwing a two-seam fastball or sinker. He’s continued to throw it this spring and believes it will help him.
 
“I learned to trust the two-seamer last year and that’s what I hope to keep moving forward with,” he said.
 
Will it take him to the Phillies’ bullpen?
 
He hopes so. He got a taste of relieving last season and liked it.
 
“Oh, yeah, I loved it,” he said. “Every time the phone rang down there, I was on high alert. It was awesome. It’s a rush.
 
“But wherever I land, I land. I’d be willing to play anywhere on this team.”