Saturday, March 31, 2012

Le Toux returns to PPL, Union play Vancouver to scoreless draw

By John McMullen

Chester, PA (The Phanatic Magazine) - Peter Nowak's Nightmare at PPL Park was about to cone true on the Delaware Riverfront in front of 17,189 fans on Saturday.

In the end, however, Freddy Krueger must have been in a giving mood.

Sebastien Le Toux was set up all alone in the area during the 83rd minute but sent an uncontested shot harmlessly over the crossbar.

Instead of piling on, the disfigured dream stalker only handed Nowak a run of the mill bad dream.

His nemesis, Le Toux, never tallied to rub salt in some pretty deep wounds and the Union finally earned a point in 2012, playing to a scoreless draw with Vancouver.

“I am disappointed with myself,” Le Toux said. “I didn’t do a good job and I rushed my shot.”

Gray skies, chilly temperatures and a nice ovation greeted Le Toux in his return to PPL. That and a Union team that hadn't recorded a point in their first three games without him.

A playoff team last season with the French striker, Philadelphia has looked anything but during an 0-3 start in which they have managed just two goals.

The popular Le Toux, of course, was traded to the Whitecaps in the offseason after an ill-fated trial with Bolton. He was by far the Union's leading scorer, netting 25 goals and adding 20 assists during the franchise's first two years. Perhaps, more importantly, he was also the public face of the franchise, something that seems to rub the often surly Nowak the wrong way.

With the pressure mounting on Nowak after the slow start, the team manager even butted heads with a Philadelphia Inquirer beat reporter this week, wondering why Le Toux's return was the story.

I, in turn, expected Andy Dufresne to show up from Shawshank and ask the Polish mentor why he was being so obtuse.


Le Toux returned to find a familiar Nowak team, one with wild lineup changes from week
to week.

Nowak was moderately successful with that approach when Le Toux, the one proven finisher in Philadelphia, was at his disposal  This season, Nowak's charges have found the back of the net a grand total of two times in 360 minutes of soccer and are 0-3-1.

Le Toux had a couple of opportunities in the first half, tracking through the Philadelphia area in the 27th minute but losing the ball while trying to center as two Union defenders converged.

In the 31st, Le Toux sent in a cross that Carlos Valdes was able to block and keep it in play for Zac MacMath to gather it up. By the 44th, the Frenchman crossed into the middle but no one was there.

The Union's best chance in the opening frame came in the 27th minute when Lionard Pajoy unleashed a well-struck shot from 20 yards out that went just wide of the post.

Philadelphia pressed early after intermission with Valdes getting a foot on and hitting the post off a Keon Daniel corner in the 47th minute.

Two minutes later Gabriel Gomez sent a curling cross to the far post, but Joe Cannon saved Brian Carroll's one-timer on the goal line.

In the 55th minute, Daniel was it again, cracking from distance but Cannon was up to the task again and Pajoy's rebound was off the mark.

Vancouver responded from there and had far more opportunities late but MacMath had his best game of the season, making sound and prudent decisions en route to his first clean sheet of 2012.

“Overall we progressed and that is not going to stop,” Nowak said.


A little self esteem can go a long way in life. In fact, successful people in any endeavor tend to have a healthy belief in themselves.

That said, too much of anything can turn things sour. Nowak is not the only Philadelphia coach to think he's the smartest guy in the room, he's just the latest. But, he's running the Union straight into the ground with a narcissistic approach laced with little self awareness.

A playoff team in just its second season, Philadelphia has taken a major step back in year 3 thanks in large part to the losses of veteran goalkeeper Fayrd Mondragon along with Le Toux, the only two All-Stars in Union history.

Blaming personnel moves on the team manager in MLS isn't always prudent. League transaction rules are far more complicated than the major U.S. sports and its conceivable that left to his own devices Nowak didn't want either Mondragon or Le Toux out of Chester.

What's incontrovertible is that someone did. In Mondragon's case, the Union attempted to paint it liked the veteran wanted to return to his native Columbia but it was also reportedly a money issue and moving on from a 40-year-old-guy to a teenager that was the No. 5 selection in the 2011 SuperDraft is probably a prudent decision, at least for the long term.

Le Toux's absence, however, is much tougher to explain but also all about money. According to the Frenchman, who was in on over 56 percent of the Union's scoring plays during their first two seasons, he was forced out.

With his modestly priced contract with MLS set to expire after this season, he wanted a raise. Philadelphia wasn't on board and with an eye on allocation money, sent him on a trial with Bolton.

Le Toux claimed the ill-fated trial was described to him as just a "visit." After he performed poorly, Nowak and the Union were incensed and shipped him out to Vancouver.


The Union get a bit of a breather, a fell two weeks off before hosting the Columbus Crew on April 14.

“I think we’re in a good way right now,” Nowak said. “We have a couple of weeks to polish things and I think we’re going to be more efficient.”

Scoring Summary:


Misconduct Summary:

PHL: Gomez Yellow ‘43
PHL: Carroll Yellow ‘56
VAN: Harris Yellow ‘65
PHL: M. Farfan Yellow ‘77

Philadelphia Union: MacMath, Williams, Califf, Valdes, Lopez (M. Farfan ’45), Carroll, Daniel (Mwanga ’86), G. Farfan, Pajoy, Hoffman (McInerney ’51)

Subs Not Used: Harrison, Albright, Okugo, Martinez


Vancouver Whitecaps: Cannon, DeMerit, Pyo Lee, Bonjour, Harvey, Thorrington (Koffie ’59), Watson, Davidson, Chiumiento, Le Toux, Harris (Tan ’70)

Subs Not Used: Knighton, Mitchell, Salgado, Koffie, Klazura, Franks


Sens steal point, dignity in matinee decision over Flyers

by Bob Herpen
Phanatic Hockey Editor

Jason Spezza notched the winner in the shootout, allowing Ottawa to escape with some dignity courtesy of a 4-3 victory over the Flyers in Philadelphia on Saturday afternoon.

He provided the difference to end the second round, skating in full bore on Sergei Bobrovsky, then sliding a low, hard shot off the base of the right post and in.

Craig Anderson wrapped up the game by closing off the right post to squash Danny Briere's attempt.

It was a shame for the way Briere played, notching a pair of assists and turning his shifts in overtime into his own personal chess match with the Ottawa defense and Anderson. It was his rush between two players as time ticked down to less than a minute in the extra session, the latter of whom -- Filip Kuba -- committed a hooking infraction with 48.6 seconds to play, which allowed the hosts one last burst of energy to try and close out their conference rivals.

"As it got later, we had a ton of chances to win it. We could have scored four or five goals there in overtime," said a dour Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette. "It just didn't drop."

But Anderson held the fort as the Orange and Black buzzed around him, then watched as his forwards won the breakaway contest.

Spezza, Daniel Alfredsson and Chris Neil tallied in regulation for the Sens, who looked foolish in squandering a 3-0 first-period lead but walked away with an extra point and took a four-point lead on eighth-place Washington.

Anderson, who had to hang on for dear life at times down the stretch, finished with 36 saves, while his counterpart Bobrovsky stopped 26 shots.

"Our team did a good job of being resilient and showing a little character and coming back," Senators coach Paul MacLean said.

Wayne Simmonds, Sean Couturier and Braydon Coburn found the net for the Flyers, who came to life over the final 40 minutes and stole a point which brought them within three of fourth-place Pittsburgh heading for a Sunday matinee showdown at CONSOL Energy Center.

While the opening 20 minutes painted a bleak picture which showed the Flyers hanging on for dear life down 3-0, the stats and the flow told a different story. Philly claimed a 15-12 edge in shots and had the best chances of the stanza.

Anderson was sharp to turn away Claude Giroux on a shorthanded breakaway roughly eight minutes in, as Matt Read sat for a tripping infraction, and then he stayed with the play as Jaromir Jagr fired two chances from in close during a 4-on-4 after Kuba was caught flipping the puck out of play following the Giroux opportunity.

It was after that when the wheels fell off.

Already ahead 1-0 thanks to an Alfredsson-to-Spezza connection, Ottawa tallied twice more, within a three-minute span, to take a commanding lead.

On the visitors' second goal, Erik Karlsson alertly dished to Alfredsson at the opposite point, and his blast appeared to deflect off a body in front and dip low inside the right post at the 11:39 mark.

Then, the only score of the game on Bobrovsky's ledger happened. Rob Klinkhammer intercepted a clearing attempt and sent the puck into the left corner. Neil picked it up, pivoted away from a checker, then fired from the top of the left circle. The puck trickled through between Bobrovsky's arm and body for a 3-0 game at 14:27.

Shocked to life, the hosts countered in the second period with three of their own.

It started just shy of the three-minute mark. Brayden Schenn deked his way into the Senators' zone before ripping a wrister from between the circles. The shot deflected up the stick of Ottawa defender Chris Phillips's stick, hit Simmonds in the face, and caromed in.

Schenn didn't even have time to celebrate before attending to his stricken teammate, who was taken to the locker room for evaluation. Simmonds, who netted his 26th of the year the hard way, needed seven stitches to close a gash that snaked above his right eyebrow down to the side of his nose.

"I saw it coming but there's not much I could do," said Simmonds, who wore a visor for his first three NHL seasons with the Kings but has not worn one yet this year. "I was just trying to take position for the shot and it was deflected off me."

The deficit was trimmed to one at 14:38 on another unexpected gift. Couturier blew by Sergei Gonchar on the left wing, cut in, and dribbled a shot through the crease, which rolled on edge to the right pipe and appeared to cross the goal line a fraction of a second ahead of Kuba lifting the net off its peg.

Though the score was initially waved off, a lengthy conference with the war room in Toronto was able to reverse the call, and it was 3-2.

Coburn produced the tying score, but it came thanks to good puck movement from Briere. Eric Wellwood gained control of the disc at the right point and fed ahead to Briere, who was able to move right onto the doorstep, waiting just long enough for his defenseman to sneak in. Anderson got his glove on the shot, but it still rolled over the goal line with 5:22 remaining in the second.

The comeback was desperately needed, as Kyle Turris was allowed to separate 30 feet ahead of the pack early in the third before being turned away by Bobrovsky. It was one of just five third-period Senators shots in a plodding final period which saw nine combined shots.

Two of the other four came with 1:20 remaining, when Spezza faced a half-open net only to push the puck into Bobrovsky's right pad twice in a row.

"We deserved a lot better than being down 3-0. For us, it was about sticking to the plan and things were going to fall into place," Briere said. "After making that comeback for the whole second period, we sat back too much in the third period. It's something in our game I'd like to find a way to change."

In the shootout, Read opened up by non-chalantly put one by Anderson, but Giroux tried to turn his back completely away from Anderson before lifting his chance well over the net.

Notes: Ottawa improved to 6-4 in the shootout and Philadelphia fell to 4-7 this season...Coming, in the Flyers had won seven of their last nine home games against Ottawa since January of 2008...The clubs split the four-game season series with both teams winning once at home and once on the road...Philly claimed a 17-14 goal differential...Pelle Eklund (1985-94), drafted by the Flyers in 1983, was in attendance...The Orange and Black fell to 5-10-3 this season in games starting before 7 PM...Couturier snapped an eight-game goal drought...After not scoring since March 4, Neil has notched goals in back-to-back games for the first time since January 8-10...Briere has nine points (2G, 7A) in the last four games...Alfredsson's two-point effort gave him 46 points (15G, 31A) in 52 career games against Philadelphia.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Eagles lose All-Pro Peters to Achilles injury

The Eagles have announced that All-Pro left tackle Jason Peters ruptured his Achilles tendon in his right leg on Tuesday, March 27, while training in Texas.

Surgery to repair the tendon is scheduled for April 3 in Philadelphia and will be performed by Dr. Steve Raikin of the Rothman Institute.

It's a nine to 12 month injury and Peters will likely miss the entire 2012 season.

"As we announced earlier, Jason Peters has sustained a ruptured Achilles tendon," Eagles coach Andy Reid said in a statement. "He had been working out in his hometown in Texas when this occurred. He alerted [head athletic trainer] Rick [Burkholder] and they quickly put together a plan of attack for his evaluation, surgery and subsequent rehabilitation.

"We all know how much Jason loves to play the game and how much he was looking forward to the start of the 2012 season. Jason is one of the best, if not the best, offensive tackle in the NFL. We don’t know when he will return to the field and we will not speculate on a timeline. We are just going to let the surgical process and the rehabilitation process play itself out.

"Howie and I will sort out the roster situation for the offensive line. We are glad to have King [Dunlap] back as a part of our offensive line and we will continue to scan the free agent market, also knowing the draft is less than a month away.”

Taylor meets Wilson for USBA cruiserweight crown

Atlantic City, NJ—Andres Taylor, who rarely fights far from his friends in his Johnstown, PA, backyard, is bringing his neighborhood with him when he boxes Garrett Wilson, of Philadelphia, PA, on Saturday evening, April 14, at Bally’s Atlantic City.

At stake in the scheduled 12-rounder will be Wilson’s United States Boxing Association (USBA) cruiserweight title as well as the vacant North American Boxing Federation (NABF) crown. The Wilson-Taylor championship contest tops a seven-bout card which begins at 7.30 pm. in the 1,500-seat Grand Ballroom.

Taylor (left) and Wilson met the first time on Sept. 11, 2010, in Johnstown, PA, in a scheduled eight-round fight which Wilson accepted on three days’ notice. The outdoor match was interrupted by rain after the fifth round and later resumed with one official voting for Wilson, one for Taylor, one for a draw.

Taylor, 33, has not lost since fighting Wilson, earning decisions over Rayshawn Myers, of Cleveland, OH; Kamarah Pasley, of Philadelphia, PA; Mike Alderete, ofAlbuquerque, NM, andGary Gomez, of Salt Lake City, UT.

A pro less than four years, Taylor is 20-1-2, 7 K0s. and rated No. 33 by the WBC. His last fight was Nov. 23, 2010, in Pittsburgh, PA, when he out-pointed Gomez over eight rounds.

Of his 23 pro fights, Taylor has boxed 18 times in Pennsylvania in places like Johnstown, York, Erie, Altoona, Monroeville and Pittsburgh. None of his five road trips took him farther than 200 miles from home. He boxed four times in Ohio (Youngstown, Akron, Campbell, North Olmstead) and once in Maryland (Hagerstown).

When he makes the 300-mile trip to Bally’s Atlantic City, Taylor will be bringing busloads of supporters and sponsors, including Mike Adams, defensive corner for the Denver Broncos, and Artrell Hawkins, former corner for the New England Patriots and New York Jets.

“Taylor is very popular in his backyard,” says agent Chuck Bayley. “He’s bringing a ton of people with him to Atlantic City. After this one, we’ll be in line to challenge for the world title.”

Eagles re-sign Dunlop, Peters may be hurt

The Eagles have agreed to terms with tackle King Dunlap on a one-year contract.

The move could be  areaction to an injury suffered by Pro Bowl left tackle Jason Peters, who may of suffered an Achilles injury in a recent according to Geoff Mosher.

Dunlap (6-foot-9, 330) has played in 38 games (seven starts) over the last three seasons after being selected by the Eagles in the seventh round of the 2008 NFL Draft.

He started five games in 2010 (two at LT, three at RT), and two games in 2011 (one at LT, one at LG), joining Jonathan Ogden and Ben Jefferson as the tallest players ever to play guard in the NFL, according to Stats Inc.

The 26-year old also contributes to the Eagles special teams units, and registered his first-career field goal block on a 45-yard attempt by David Akers vs. SF on 10/2/11. A native of Brentwood, TN, Dunlap appeared in 48 games with 20 starts during his collegiate career at Auburn.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Video: Nowak talks Le Toux

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Temple and Syracuse to meet at inaugural Gotham Classic

PHILADELPHIA – Two of the top 10 winningest men’s college basketball programs, Temple and Syracuse, will headline the field of the inaugural Gotham Classic, which culminates with the two teams facing each other at New York's Madison Square Garden on Saturday, December 22.

Tickets for the Gotham Classic go on sale Thursday, March 29 at 10:00 a.m.

Temple, which is the sixth winningest Division I program with 1,790 wins, returns two starters from last year's team in junior guard Khalif Wyatt (17.1 ppg.) and junior forward Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson (9.3 ppg.).  The Owls, who posted a 24-8 record in a 2011-12 season highlighted by the Atlantic 10 Conference regular season championship and a fifth straight NCAA appearance, also will return fifth-year senior forward Scootie Randall and junior forward Dalton Pepper, both of whom red-shirted last season.

Syracuse, which made its eighth NCAA Elite 8 appearance in 2011-12, ranks fifth on the NCAA alltime win list with 1,844 victories.  The regular season BIG EAST champions return three starters from a team that posted a 34-3 record. The Orange lead the all-time series with Temple, 16-13, but the schools have not met on the hardwood since Temple defeated Syracuse, 65-54, in the NIT third place game at Madison Square Garden on March 28, 2002.

The format for the inaugural Gotham Classic sees both Temple and Syracuse playing three games on campus beginning December 15 before taking on each other at the World's Most Famous Arena on Saturday, December 22. The other three teams in the event will travel to both Syracuse and Temple before facing each other, with one game at home and the other on the road.

Match-ups for the 2012 Gotham Classic, television details, and the entire field will be announced at a later date.

To purchase tickets to the Temple-Syracuse game, call the Temple ticket office at 215-204-8499

Pat Carroll to be inducted into the SJU Men's Basketball Hall of Fame

Former Saint Joseph's star Pat Carroll will be inducted into the SJU Men's Basketball Hall of Fame at the school's 57th Annual Men's Basketball Awards Banquet on April 13, at Drexelbrook Catering (Drexel Hill, Pa.).

Carroll, who starred for the Hawks from 2001-05, will be remembered as one of the finest perimeter shooters in Saint Joseph's history. He owns the school records for career 3-point field goals (294), 3-point percentage (44.5) and 3-point attempts (661), while setting the single-season marks in 2005 for 3-pointers (135) and attempts (311). The 6-5 forward tallied 1,324 points in his career, ranking him 25th on SJU's all-time list.

He put together his best season ever in a Hawk uniform in 2004-05 when he averaged 18.3 points per game while leading Saint Joseph's to a berth in the NIT Championship game. Carroll was named the Atlantic 10 Co-Player of the Year and an Associated Press Honorable Mention All-America that season, while also earning the Most Outstanding Player awards for the Atlantic 10 Championship and the Philadelphia Big 5.

The evening begins with a reception at 6 p.m., followed by dinner and the awards presentation at 7 p.m. Tickets for the banquet are $60 and can be reserved by contacting Clare Ariano at 610-660-1706 or via email at:

Stretching the Field: Loss of Stoudemire shouldn't concern Knicks

Stretching the Field: Loss of Stoudemire shouldn't concern Knicks

Bryz injury could put a chip in Flyers' playoff run - Hockey Wires -

Bryz injury could put a chip in Flyers' playoff run - Hockey Wires -

CSN announces Phillies coverage

PHILADELPHIA- (March 27, 2012) – The defending National League East Champion Philadelphia Phillies return to Comcast SportsNet for comprehensive coverage before, during and after every game on-air and online. Comcast SportsNet and The Comcast Network will air a total of 109 regular season games, all in high definition, with extensive Opening Day coverage, a weekly magazine show, pre and postgame coverage for every game and exclusive features only available on 

The five-time defending National League East Champion Philadelphia Phillies set two records in 2011: a franchise record 102 regular season victories, and maybe even more impressive, nine straight years of ratings growth on Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia.  In 2011, household ratings on Comcast SportsNet averaged a 9.12, up 10% over the 2010 season and a remarkable 176% since 2002.  The Phils 9.12 rating was the best in the country, beating out the St. Louis Cardinals 9.0 HH rating.

Broadcast Team Addition
New this season is the addition of Comcast SportsNet’s Gregg Murphy to the Phillies broadcast team of Tom McCarthy, Gary Matthews and Chris Wheeler. Murphy will bring the sights and sounds of the ballpark to life in his new role as field reporter.  In addition to his role with the Phillies, Murphy will occasionally provide analysis on Comcast SportsNet’s news and Phillies programs including “SportsNite,” “Daily News Live,” “Phillies Pregame Live,” and “Phillies Postgame Live.” 

The regular season debut of the new broadcast team will be on Thursday, April 5 when the Phillies open their 2012 season against the Pirates.  Comcast SportsNet will have a robust lineup for Opening Day including Phillies Pre and Postgame Live.

Comcast SportsNet Opening Day Schedule for Thursday, April 5
12 p.m.                                                  SportsRise
12:30 p.m.                                            Phillies Focus
1 p.m.                                                     Phillies Pregame Live
1:30 p.m.                                               Phillies vs. Pirates on PHL 17
4:30 p.m.                                               Phillies Postgame Live
5 p.m.                                                     Daily News Live
6 p.m.                                                     SportsNite

Comcast SportsNet Home Opener Schedule for Monday, April 9
12 p.m.                                                  SportsRise (live)
12:30 p.m.                                            Phillies Pregame Live
1 p.m.                                                     Phillies vs. Marlins
4 p.m.                                                     Phillies Postgame Live
5 p.m.                                                     Daily News Live
6 p.m.                                                     SportsNite
7 p.m.                                                     Phillies Encore: Phillies vs. Marlins
10 p.m.                                                  SportsNite

2012 Broadcast Enhancements
Comcast SportsNet will utilize state of the art Ultra-Mo technology with an adjusted frame rate camera to capture images in super slow motion with superior clarity. Statistical analytics will also assume a greater role with enhanced graphics and data appropriate to various storylines, while multiple robotic and point of view cameras will be deployed to bring the viewer closer to the action.

All The Bases Covered
Leslie Gudel (@LeslieGudel), Marshall Harris (@mharrisCSN) and Jim Salisbury (@JSalisburyCSN) team up for expanded Phillies coverage during the 2012 season. As’s Phillies Insider, Salisbury will report on the team both at home and on the road, providing feature stories, video blogs and Phillies chats for the website. Gudel and Harris will provide coverage on-air and online, including exclusive interviews and feature stories on the players, coaches and personalities that make the Phillies tick.  Harris will also host Phillies Clubhouse this season.

Pre and Postgame Coverage
In addition to live game coverage, Comcast SportsNet delivers pre and post-game coverage and analysis. Before every game on Comcast SportsNet and The Comcast Network, viewers can catch the latest team developments, game previews and opposing team analysis on “Daily News Live,” “SportsNite” and “Phillies Pregame Live.” 

Following each match-up, Phillies fans get a game breakdown with stats and highlights, and a look ahead to the rest of the season on “Phillies Postgame Live.” Other features include manager Charlie Manuel’s press conferences and reaction from the clubhouse. Phillies Postgame Live analysis will be provided by former Major League ball players Ricky Bottalico, Chris Coste and Ben Davis.
Bottalico returns for his fourth year as a Phillies analyst after playing 12 seasons in the major leagues, including seven with the Philadelphia Phillies.  Returning to the lineup this year are Coste, who played four seasons with the Phillies, and Davis, a catcher from Malvern Prep, who played seven seasons in the majors.

Phillies Clubhouse
Completing Comcast SportsNet’s Phillies lineup is the weekly 30-minute feature series Phillies Clubhouse. “Phillies Clubhouse” illustrates the deep bond between the Phillies and their fans with off-field player profiles, behind-the-scenes stories about fans and the people who make the team run, look into the future of the game with regular minor league updates, and relive great moments in Phillies’ history with the people who made it happen.  This season features “My Memory,” where Phillies players past and present recall the greatest moments in their career.  “Phillies Clubhouse airs most Mondays at 7 p.m.
Digital/Social Media’s Phillies Insider Jim Salisbury (@JSalisburyCSN) will provide exclusive player, coaches and management interviews, plus breaking news and in-depth features on He will also provide live reports for “Daily News Live” and “SportsNite.” columnist John Gonzalez (@GonzoCSN) and feature writer John Finger (@JFingerCSN) will also contribute to the site throughout the season.   

This year, launches a Phillies-themed online show, “Phightin Words” featuring Davis and Bottalico as they discuss the Phillies and respond to trends, answer fan questions from Twitter and Facebook and dissect upcoming series and player performance.  Fans can join the conversation by using the hashtag #PhilliesTalk.

The five-time defending National League East Champion Philadelphia Phillies set two records in 2011: a franchise record 102 regular season victories, and maybe even more impressive, nine straight years of ratings growth on Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia.  In 2011, household ratings on Comcast SportsNet averaged a 9.12, up 10% over the 2010 season and a remarkable 176% since 2002.  The Phils 9.12 rating was the best in the country, beating out the St. Louis Cardinals 9.0 HH rating.

Soul's Morgan named AFL Playmaker of the Week

PHILADELPHIA – The Arena Football League has announced that Philadelphia Soul WR Donovan Morgan  has been named the AFL Playmaker of the Week for his performance this past Friday in the Soul’s 84-59 victory against division rival, Pittsburgh Power.

Morgan finished the day with 12 catches for 112 yards and four touchdowns to lead the Soul receiving corps against the Power defense.  Morgan carried the offense early, accounting for all 14 of the Soul’s points in the first quarter.  He caught another touchdown with five minutes left in the second quarter and his final scoring play came two minutes into the fourth quarter on a 30-yard reception for a touchdown.

“Donovan is a vital piece of our offensive unit. I think his performance against Pittsburgh last weekend proved that,” said Soul head coach Doug Plank.  “He was a big contributor in 2011 and he’s carried that over into 2012.  He earned this award and we look forward to what he can do the remainder of the season.”

Through two games, Morgan has compiled 20 receptions for 198 yards and six touchdowns.  He is also the Soul’s leading rusher in terms of yards with 47 on six carries.  Morgan is tied at No. 4 in the league for receptions per game (10.0), No. 6 for receptions (20) and reception touchdowns (6), and No. 3 for rushing (47) and yards per rush (7.8).

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Holmgren presser on Bryzgalov and more

Courtesy of the Philadelphia Flyers

Q: Where on the foot is the chip fracture?

“You know what, I’m not sure.”

Q: Do you think it would matter where the injury is as far as when you look at the prognosis?

“Right now, Ilya wasn’t going to play on Thursday anyway. So we’re going to just leave him back and continue to get his treatment. We don’t think this is a serious injury. We’re hoping that he’ll be back on the ice practicing with the idea that he can play on the weekend. It’s just going to be a little bit of pain management for Ilya. He feels OK today. In fact, he’s going to come in and work out tomorrow and get treatment, and try to be ready to practice on Friday. Obviously when you’re dealing with something like this, it might be too painful to skate on Friday, but we’ll see. He doesn’t feel that bad today. We’ll see how it is. It’s not a thing that surgery is required, it’s nothing like van Riemsdyk’s broken foot or anything like that. It’s a chip off a weight-bearing bone, and the doctor has said it’ll be absorbed back into his system, the little chip that’s in there, and there’s no real risk here at all. It’s just he’s in a little bit of pain right now. Some of you guys I think saw him last night limping around, but this happened in warmup. He wanted to play, we had it x-rayed after warmup with his skate on, and nothing showed… we x-rayed it again after the game, it didn’t show… and the MRI revealed this small little chip in there. So we’re dealing with it. We’ll see how the next couple days go, but nobody’s really concerned about this.

Q: Did the doctors say that it had more to do with pain management than anything?


Q: Was there any thought last night to not letting him play?

“We had the x-ray, Ilya wanted to play. To be honest with you, I knew what was going on, I watched the game, and I didn’t see any issues. The goals they scored were good goals. The last one he wasn’t paying attention when Matt had the bobble at the side of the net. The other goals were good goals that you can’t really fault him on. I didn’t have any issues with how he played the game and I don’t think his foot was an issue during the game.”

Q: Was the MRI done yesterday or today?

“It was done today.”

Q: Are you looking for him to play this weekend?

“Yeah, it’s going to be how it goes over the next couple days. Ilya wants to play, he feels like he’ll be OK, but we’ll just see how it goes. I think we’ll have a better grasp on how he is tomorrow. He’s going to get some treatment here tonight and again come in tomorrow and work out and get treatment done. So we’ll have a better idea where we’re at tomorrow and then probably more on Thursday and Friday. As I said, nobody’s really concerned. The doctors are not concerned, Jimmy McCrossin’s not too concerned. He’s a little sore right now. So we’ve gotta get some of the swelling out of there, and you do that with ice and ibuprofen or whatever, and go from there.”

Q: He cannot make the trip to Toronto?

“We’re not going to bring him on the trip. It just makes no sense.”

Q: Will Michael Leighton be recalled?

“No, actually we’re going to recall Jason Bacashihua tonight.”

Q: Is Kimmo’s injury one where you’re going to need a call-up as well, or do you expect him to play?

“Kimmo’s not going to play on Thursday. This is kind of a maintenance thing we had planned. Tonight we’ll recall Marc-Andre Bourdon, and then we’ll see where Lilja is. He could possibly play on Thursday but we’re not sure. So we’ll have seven defensemen there, and if Lilja can play, we’ll probably make a decision on loaning Erik back or Marc-Andre.”

Q: Is Kimmo’s injury something you’re going to have to maintenance through the playoffs?

“When Kimmo missed the time earlier, it was kind of a planned thing where we wanted to give him some rest and do some rehab. This is also part of the plan. It’s just take this day off, he doesn’t have to fly up, he doesn’t have to play the game. He can rest and rehab and get ready to play on the weekend.”

Q: Ilya said this happened in the warmup right before the game – did he say how it happened?

“He was hit. He was looking the other way when I think it was Jakub Voracek shot a puck from the side, and it hit him in an exposed part of his foot. So that’s what happened.”

Q: Are you concerned that the injury will throw him out of his rhythm?

“No, I don’t think so. He’s played a lot over the last little while here. He’s missed days in practice and he hasn’t lost his rhythm. Obviously the team didn’t skate today, he probably won’t skate tomorrow… maybe he can skate on Thursday and practice on Friday. I’m not worried about that. Obviously there’s a little bit of concern with the pain and the swelling, but Ilya’s a tough kid, he wants to play, and we look forward to seeing him on the ice with the team at practice on Friday.”

Union to play Aston Villa at PPL Park

Chester, Pa. – The Philadelphia Union today announced the team will host English Premier League club Aston Villa on Wednesday, July 18 at 7:30 p.m. EST at PPL Park.

The match, featuring U.S. internationals Brad Guzan and Eric Lichaj and English internationals Emilie Heskey and Darren Bent, is included in the Union full season ticket package at no additional cost.  One of the oldest and most successful clubs in England, Aston Villa has won the FA Cup and First Division Championship seven times.

“It’s our ongoing commitment to bring world-class international competition to Philadelphia,” said Philadelphia Union CEO & Operating Partner Nick Sakiewicz. “We are very proud to host Aston Villa in what will be a challenge for our club and a treat for our fans. We’re also thrilled that this match will be a wonderful precursor to the 2012 MLS All-Star Game and its surrounding festivities.  This will certainly be an amazing week for not only our fans and PPL Park but also for cities of Chester and Philadelphia.”

Forward Danny Mwanga spent 10 days training with Aston Villa at the end of January prior to joining Union preseason in Florida in early February.

Temple's Fernandez and Moore to play in College All-Star Game

PHILADELPHIA – Temple University’s standout backcourt of seniors Juan Fernandez and Ramone Moore will have one more game together as the duo will compete as members of the East squad at the 2012 Reese’s Division I College All-Star game, which will be played as part of Final Four on March 30.

The game will be held at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome with tip-time slated for 5:35 p.m. ET and will be televised on a tape-delayed basis Saturday at 1:00 p.m. ET on TruTV.

Fernandez also has been invited to participate in the 2012 State Farm College Slam Dunk & 3-Point Championships, which airs live for the first time in its 24-year history at 9 p.m. ET Thursday on ESPN. The event will take place at Fogelman Arena on the campus of Tulane University in New Orleans.  Fernandez, who ended his career second on Temple’s alltime three-point list (.402, 207-515), will take part in the three-point shooting championship.

Joining Moore and Fernandez on the East squad are Scott Machado (Iona), Kevin Murphy (Tennessee), Jae Crowder (Marquette), John Shurna (Northwestern), Keith Wright (Harvard), Garrett Stutz (Wichita State), Henry Sims (Georgetown) and Mitchell Watt (Buffalo).

The West squad is comprised of Casper Ware (Long Beach State), Jorge Gutierrez (California), Dominique Morrison (Oral Roberts), Devoe Joseph (Oregon), Bradford Burgess (VCU), Wendell McKines (New Mexico), Storm Warren (LSU), Chace Stanback (UNLV), Robert Sacre (Gonzaga) and Ricardo Ratliffe (Missouri).

Shurna, Stanback and Burgess will join Fernandez will be join Fernandez in Thursday’s three-point championship. The entire three-point championship roster has not been finalized.

The Sixth Man: Bryant's 'benching' is being overblown | NBA - The News Tribune

The Sixth Man: Bryant's 'benching' is being overblown | NBA - The News Tribune

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Extra! Extra! Read all about it...Flyers clinch playoff berth by dumping Habs

by Bob Herpen
Phanatic Hockey Editor

With two bus loads of fans from Claude Giroux's hometown of Hearst, Ontario in attendance, the Philadelphia Flyers made the 17-hour trek by bus worth their while, clinching a berth in the postseason thanks to a 4-1 victory over the fading Montreal Canadiens on Saturday night.

For the 16th time since the first lockout triggered a change in the franchise's fortunes, the Orange and Black will play significant hockey into the Spring.

Danny Briere fueled the win by posting his first multi-goal effort since early January, while Giroux delighted his devoted followers with an assist that set up Kimmo Timonen's first-period tally. The hosts exploded for three power-play goals in five opportunities.

Ilya Bryzgalov stood tall once again, making 23 saves and improving to 10-1-1 in March. His acumen was never more needed than during a Canadiens' two-man advantage for 81 seconds in the middle portion of the third period, where he made several key stops on close chances.

Philly improved to 5-1-1 in its last seven games and closed within two points of the Penguins, who suffered an 8-4 defeat in Ottawa.

"I thought coach made a good point before the game," Jaromir Jagr said. "We want our games to mean something, and not get in a situation where it won't really mean much for our (playoff) position if we win games in the final week. I think this could go down to the final game."

The Flyers, who spent much of the latter portion of last season at or near the top of the standings, clinched on March 19 but struggled down the stretch. This year, it's a different story, as 96 points is only good enough for fifth spot.

Tomas Plekanec notched the lone score for the Habs, who have dropped five of their last seven and remained tied with the Islanders for last place in the East.

Peter Budaj was a surprise starter over Carey Price, and took the loss after allowing all four scores on 33 shots.

"It really comes down to special teams, both ways. I think our power play had the opportunity at the end to get us one and get us into it to pull us a little closer there and who knows what can happen after that," said Montreal head coach Randy Cunneyworth. "We made some choices in the first period which were to our benefit and the chances were there. We need to finish."

The Francophone still under the microscope, Briere, gave the hosts two key insurance tallies during man advantages in the second period which snapped a 1-1 tie.

On the first, with Alexei Emelin in the box for interference, Matt Carle unleashed a floating shot from the point which somehow made contact with Briere's stick as he stood to the left of price. The tally, his first non-empty-netter in more than two months, gave Philly the lead at 7:57.

For the latter, as Erik Cole stewed in the sin bin for high sticking, Jagr sent Briere on his way with a short lead pass along the right wing. The diminutive center slipped his shot under the crossbar on the short side for a two-goal margin at 17:38.

It came with a little help from Bryzgalov, who smartly hit Jagr with his own outlet pass while the Habs tried to switch up on the fly.

"The chances were always there, but I just couldn’t finish. I knew at some point it was going to turn,” Briere admitted.

Things threatened to get out of hand just after the midway point of the third, as Wayne Simmonds was hit with an extra minor for a scrap with Montreal's Ryan White and Bryzgalov was whistled for tripping Habs defenseman Andrei Markov after stoning the blueliner from in close 39 seconds later.

But the fort was held by an aggressive penalty killing unit aided by the Canadiens' hesitation, and the visitors squeezed off two shots which were hardly tough saves. The futility reached a crescendo when Lars Eller slipped on his one-timer from the right circle just as the one-man edge expired.

"We got careless out there at times, and he made some big saves for us," Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette said of his starter. "He's a big guy and he's been like a wall for us lately."

Matt Read capped a spirited shift inside of two minutes remaining in regulation. Denied his initial chance by Budaj, the rookie remained in the zone and found open space on the left wing, where he one-timed a Sean Couturier pass for the 4-1 final.

The Flyers produced the lone tally in an opening period defined by sloppy play on both ends -- a symptom of Montreal's slide to the bottom of the standings and Philadelphia's nervousness with the chance to lock up the playoff spot in front of the home crowd.

Only six seconds after Tomas Plekanec was sent off for slashing Carle, Giroux won a left-circle draw and chipped back to Timonen, who moved into position at the point and ripped a seeing-eye shot into the left corner of the net. The score, coming at 11:07, was the least probable chance of eight first-period shots.

Plekanec knotted the game with 3:44 gone in the second. He slipped between Braydon Coburn and Nick Grossmann up the middle, and, sprung by an Eller lead pass, rolled in alone and scored inside the right post with a backhander.

Notes: According to Elias Sports Bureau, Bryzgalov became the first Flyers goaltender to allow two or fewer goals in 11 straight starts since Bernie Parent during the middle portion of the 1974-75 campaign...Briere's two-goal night was his first since his hat trick against Ottawa on January 7...Flyers captain Chris Pronger made his first appearance in Philadelphia since his concussion, and was given a standing ovation when shown on the ArenaVision while sitting next to chairman Ed Snider...Philadelphia extended its league-high power-play goal total to 61...The Flyers won three of four in the season series, and have taken five of six here against Montreal since February of 2010.

Soul pull plug on Power in record-setting performance

PITTSBURGH  – In another record-setting night, the  Philadelphia Soul (2-0), led by Donovan Morgan, defeat the Pittsburgh Power (1-1),  84-59,  in front of 7,094 fans on Friday night.

The 84 points by the Soul were the most in franchise history.

“We really didn’t have enough game balls to hand out tonight,” said Soul head coach Doug Plank.  “This team has that ‘bounce back’ characteristic that winning team have.  I really like how this team has come together and its ability to fight through adversity.”

Morgan, who was named the National Guard MVP, Offensive Player of the Game and AFL Playmaker of the Game, led the team with 12 receptions for 112 yards and four touchdowns.  Derrick Ross had nine carries for 35 yards and three rushing touchdowns in addition to a 16-yard scoring reception, while Tiger Jones had three receptions for 56 yards and one touchdown.

Philadelphia quarterback Dan Raudabaugh finished by connecting on 19-of-29 passes for 207 yards, seven touchdowns and two interceptions.

Pittsburgh quarterback Bill Stull led the Power by connecting 26-of-42 passes for 299 yards, six touchdowns and three interceptions.  Wide receiver Randy Hymes was Pittsburgh’s leading receiver with seven receptions for 112 yards and two touchdowns.  Mike Washington added nine receptions for 80 yards and two touchdowns, while Tyre Young led in rushing yards with five carries for a gain of 23 yards.

Philadelphia started the scoring on their first drive when Raudabaugh found Morgan on a 6-yard scoring pass to take a 7-0 lead with the successful field goal by Phil Marfuggi.  Following a Pittsburgh touchdown by Washington and a failed kick by Collin Wagner, Pittsburgh recovered their own kick off bringing the score to 12-7 with another failed kick by Wagner. Morgan received a 12-yard scoring pass from Raudabaugh and Pittsburgh replied with a 5-yard scoring run by Young bringing the first quarter to end with Philadelphia trailing 19-14.

Second quarter scoring began with a 16-yard pass from Raudabaugh to Derrick Ross.  Morgan scored again and Pittsburgh was able to score twice, including a 27-yard pass from Stull to Hymes. Ross finished what he started, ending the quarter with a 2-yard run bringing the first half to a close with the Soul leading 41-33.

The Soul maintained the lead throughout the third quarter. After a 30-yard pass from Raudabaugh to Jones, the Soul recovered their own kick off, regaining a possession that resulted in a 12-yard touchdown pass to Larry Brackins.  Justin Parrish of the Power scored on a 40-yard fumble recovery, but Kent Richardson replied by recovering a blocked kick and running the length of the field for a touchdown that ended the third quarter with the Soul leading 57-53.

Morgan started off the fourth quarter with a 30-yard scoring reception. Pittsburg’s Lonnell Dewalt gained Pittsburgh’s final points with a 9-yard reception, followed by three more Philadelphia touchdowns including an onside kick return for a touchdown by Michaeux Robinson and a 37-yard interception return by Joe Goosby.

The Soul will face the Cleveland Gladiators in the 2012 home opener next Sunday night at 8 p.m. at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.  The game can be heard on 950 ESPN Radio.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Three Union players called to U-18 U.S. Men's National Team

Chester, Pa. - Philadelphia Union Homegrown midfielder Zach Pfeffer and Union Academy members goalkeeper Zack Steffen and defender Miguel Alves have been called up by the U-18 U.S. Men's National Team for a training camp at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif. from March 25-April 1, U.S. Soccer announced today.

Pfeffer, 17, signed as the Union's first Homegrown Player on December 22, 2010. He made his first official League appearance in 2011, starting in a 1-0 victory against the Columbus Crew on September 17. Pfeffer also started in Philadelphia's regular season finale against the New York Red Bulls.

Steffen, 16, helped lead the Union's U-18 squad to an undefeated fall season, the Academy's first full season of competition. In addition to participating in Philadelphia's academy system, Steffen plays for Youth Development Affilliate FC DELCO. He was also on the roster for Union Reserve League matches in 2011.

Alves, 16, also plays for a Youth Development Affiliate of the Union, Players Development Academy (PDA), and was recently invited to join Philadelphia's academy program.

Pfeffer and Steffen both represented the U.S. in the 2011 Mondial Minimes Montaigu Tournament in Montaigu, France from April 18-26. In 2012, Pfeffer, Steffen and Alves were called up for another U.S. U-18 training camp in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. from Jan. 2-9.

Cherry and White Game coming to the Linc

PHILADELPHIA – Temple football’s annual Cherry & White Game, the team’s final scrimmage of the spring season, will be held at Lincoln Financial Field on Saturday, April 14 at 11 a.m.

Admission is FREE. All fans must enter through the Pepsi Gate at Head House Plaza.

Parking is FREE in Lot K to all who arrive before 11 a.m.  Vehicles arriving after kickoff will be charged $15 to park due to the Phillies’ 4:05 p.m. game with the Mets.

This is the first time that the Owls have played their spring game at Lincoln Financial Field, their home stadium since 2003.  In years past, Temple hosted the Cherry & White contest at its on-campus practice facility, Edberg-Olson Hall, which is in the midst of a $10 million expansion.  Construction has significantly reduced sideline space and balcony access for spectators.  The expansion is expected to be completed in July.
The Owls open the 2012 season with Villanova in the fourth annual Mayor’s Cup, sponsored by Dunkin’ Donuts, at Lincoln Financial Field on Friday, August 31. Temple entertains Maryland on Sept. 8 before travelling to Penn State on Sept. 22.  The Owls’ last non-conference game is Nov. 17 at Army.

Temple will play in the BIG EAST Conference this fall. The remainder of the schedule is expected by the end of March.

Soul's Hughley names AFL MVP of the Week

PHILADELPHIA  – The Arena Football League has named Philadelphia Soul WR/KR Jeff Hughley the National Guard MVP of the Week for his performance this past Sunday in the Soul’s 63-62 victory in their season opener against the New Orleans VooDoo.

Jacksonville’s WR/DB Terrance Smith and Tampa Bay’s WR Prechae Rodriguez were also up for the award.

“It’s a great honor just to see that I’m recognized by the league.  I’m thankful for the ability that God gave me and I used it that day,” said Hughley on winning the award.  “Hopefully on Friday we’ll do the same thing.”

Hughley finished the day with 265 yards on 10 kick returns, including one for a touchdown.  He also caught four passes for 92 yards and two touchdowns.  The impressive outing setseveral team records, including the single-game record for all-purpose yards (360), eclipsing Charles Pauley’s mark of 277 yard set on May 5, 2007.

The effort also saw Hughley set the team’s single-game record for kickoff return yards (265), shattering the previous record set by Mike Brown (196) on March 1, 2008 against the Orlando Predators.  Hughley also tied Brown’s record for most kickoff returns (10) in a single game.  Brown set the mark on April 12, 2008 against the San Jose SaberCats.

Eagles' Reid responds to LA Times report

Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times is reporting that Andy Reid threatened to walk away for the Eagles if full say over personnel wasn't restored.

Farmer, citing two NFL insiders, also said Reid was hot on Peyton Manning but that the new Broncos quarterback had no interest in joining a team from the NFC East since he would have to play his brother twice each season.

There must be something to Farmer's report since Reid and the Eagles were quick to issue a statement:

"We look into everything, as all teams do. And I have the highest regard for Peyton Manning," Reid said. "But as I said publicly last month, that wasn't the direction we were heading in. Michael is our guy."

"As far as the personnel control, I have had final say on personnel matters for quite some time here and that’s never been an issue or a point of contention.

"Our front office works very well together and that’s one of our strengths."

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Sixth Man: Heat simmering on low

The Sixth Man: Heat simmering on low - Miami Heat -

Soul's Hughley is AFL's Ironman of the Week

PHILADELPHIA - Soul WR/KR Jeff Hughley has been named the AFL Ironman of the Week for his performance this past Sunday in the Soul’s 63-62 victory in their season opener against the New Orleans VooDoo.

Hughley finished the day with 265 yards on 10 kick returns, including one for a touchdown.  He also caught four passes for 92 yards and two touchdowns.  The impressive outing set several team records, including the single-game record for all-purpose yards (360), eclipsing Charles Pauley’s mark of 277 yard set on May 5, 2007.

“No one works harder on our team to get better than Jeff does.  He’s very deserving of the award,” said Soul head coach Doug Plank.  “His explosiveness on special teams can’t be underappreciated.  Whether it be scoring on a big return or setting up a short field for our offense.  He adds a whole new dimension to our game.”

The effort also saw Hughley set the team’s single-game record for kickoff return yards (265), shattering the previous record set by Mike Brown (196) on March 1, 2008 against the Orlando Predators.  Hughley also tied Brown’s record for most kickoff returns (10) in a single game.  Brown set the mark on April 12, 2008 against the San Jose SaberCats.

The Soul return to action when they take on the Pittsburgh Power this Friday, March 23 at 8 p.m. at the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh on the NFL Network’s “NET10 Arena Football Friday”.

Union's Williams added to the U-23 U.S. Men’s National Team

Chester, Pa. – Philadelphia Union defender Sheanon Williams has been added to the U-23 U.S. Men’s National Team for the upcoming CONCACAF Olympic qualifying tournament.

Williams, who was previously in camp with the U-23 squad in the offseason, replaces Molde-based defender Josh Gatt who was recalled by his club after the team experienced a series of injuries. Williams will travel to Nashville, Tenn. tomorrow morning to prepare for the team’s first game against Cuba on March 22.

Williams joins Union teammates Freddy Adu and Amobi Okugo who have been in camp since March 13.  The trio will miss this weekend’s Union game at Chicago and could miss the match against Vancouver on March 31, should the U-23 team advance to the semi-final round.

U.S. Soccer also announced that Head Coach Caleb Porter has selected Adu as captain. Adu, 22, is the only player on the current U-23 roster with previous experience in qualifying, having scored four goals in three appearances during the 2008 tournament.  Currently in his second season with Philadelphia, Adu has been involved with the U.S. National Team on a variety of levels, including 17 appearances for the senior squad.

The team begins its quest for Olympic qualifying this week, when the squad faces off against Cuba on March 22 at 9:00 p.m. EST in Nashville, Tenn.  The team will then take on Canada on March 24 and El Salvador on March 26.  The semifinal and final matches will be played at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kan., on March 31 and April 2, respectively.

Meszaros has successful back surgery

"Andrej [Meszaros] had successful surgery this morning to remove a disc fragment that was impinging on a nerve root, " said Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren this morning.

"He will be discharged from the hospital later today. His rehab will begin in one week."

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Eagles trade for MLB Ryans

The Philadelphia Eagles have acquired two-time Pro Bowl MLB DeMeco Ryans from the Houston Texans in exchange for a fourth round draft choice in 2012.

That fourth round pick (4th overall selection in that round) was originally acquired by Philadelphia from Tampa Bay. The Eagles and Texans also swapped 3rd round choices in 2012. The Eagles now possess the 89th selection overall, while the Texans have the Eagles’ 77th overall pick.

“DeMeco is a proven Pro Bowl linebacker in this league and we’re excited to be able to plug him into the middle of our defense,” said Eagles head coach Andy Reid. “He’s been the signal caller and a leader on a very good Texans defense for the last several years. He’s a tough, instinctive football player and he’ll be a great fit for our team.”

“We’re thrilled to be able to add a young and productive linebacker in DeMeco Ryans,” added general manager Howie Roseman. “We’d like to thank [Houston general manager] Rick Smith and the Texans. Once we found out that he could be available to us in a trade, we quickly found a way to work together to produce a good outcome for both teams.”

Originally a 2nd round pick of the Texans in 2006 (33rd overall), Ryans has played and started in 86 games, earning Pro Bowl honors following the 2007 and 2009 campaigns and an Associated Press All-Pro selection in 2007. The 27-year-old linebacker and team captain leaves Houston as the Texans all-time leader with 637 tackles while also contributing eight sacks, six forced fumbles, eight fumble recoveries and two interceptions in his six-year career.

Ryans (6-1, 247) was immediately plugged into the starting lineup in 2006 and was named AP Defensive Rookie of the Year that season after leading the team in tackles (156) and adding 3.5 sacks and an interception. He went on to start all 16 games and amass over 100 tackles in each of the next three seasons. In his sophomore campaign of 2007, Ryans garnered All Pro, Pro Bowl, and team MVP honors. In 2009, he earned his second trip to the Pro Bowl and was voted as a team captain in 2010.

In 2011, Ryans again started all 16 games at middle linebacker in their newly installed 3-4 scheme and helped contribute to a Texans defense that ranked among the league leaders in many categories including points per game (17.4 – 4th), yards per game (285.7 – 2nd), passing yards (189.7 – 3rd), rushing yards per game (96.0 – 4th), and sacks (44 – 6th). Ryans was voted by his teammates as the team’s recipient of the Ed Block Courage award and also helped the Texans earn their franchise’s first playoff berth and victory.

A native of Bessemer, AL, Ryans played collegiately at Alabama, where he earned first-team All-America honors in 2005. He was a teammate of Eagles left guard Evan Mathis with the Crimson Tide. While in the NFL, Ryans has been a leader on and off the field and his work in the community has been highly regarded in the Houston area.

Sixers waive Nocioni

PHILADELPHIA, PA. – The Philadelphia 76ers announced today that the team has waived forward Andres Nocioni.

"We want to sincerely thank Andres for his contributions to our team and maintaining a true level of professionalism throughout his time here," Sixers President of Basketball Operations Rod Thorn said. "We wish him the best of luck as he pursues future opportunities."

Nocioni (6-7, 225) is in his eighth NBA season and his second with the Sixers.  He was acquired via trade from Sacramento, along with Spencer Hawes, in exchange for Samuel Dalembert on June 17, 2010.

In 11 games with one start this season, Nocioni averaged 1.5 points and 1.3 rebounds in 5.1 minutes per game.

Union's Lopez called up by Costa Rican national team

Chester, Pa. - Philadelphia Union defender Porfirio Lopez has been called up by the Costa Rican National Team to compete in an international friendly against Jamaica on Wednesday, March 21, 8:00 p.m., at The National Stadium in Kingston. Lopez will depart today and return to Philadelphia on Thursday in time to join the Union for their match at Chicago on Saturday at 8:30 p.m. EST on The Comcast Network.

Since arriving in Philadelphia, Lopez has started each of the Union's two regular season games in 2012, playing a full 90 minutes in each.

Lopez has been capped once for Costa Rica, making his first international appearance on August 10, 2011 in a friendly against Ecuador. He started and played 73 minutes in the 2-0 loss.  Costa Rica is currently riding a four-game unbeaten streak, including a 2-2 draw with World Cup champion Spain, a 2-0 road win at Venezuela and a 1-0 victory over Wales in Cardiff.

Previously on loan with Costa Rican First Division champion Liga Deportiva Alajuelense, Lopez was acquired from Chinese First Division side Dalian Haichang on December 22, 2011. The 26-year-old arrived in Philadelphia following back-to-back Apertura and Clausura titles with Alajuelense in 2011. Playing primarily as a left back, Lopez appeared in a total of 16 games in 2011. His first and lone goal in La Liga came in the 62nd minute of a 4-0 victory over Cartagines on Sept. 7, 2011.

Lopez made his professional debut with Santos de Guapiles in 2005, playing in a total of 42 matches before moving to Puntarenas in 2009. He saw action in 31 games with his new club, finding the back of the net on one occasion. In 2010, the defender moved to Dalian Haichang, notching two tallies in ten matches before returning to Costa Rica’s Alajuelense.

Panthers turn back the clock, beat Flyers 2-1

by Bob Herpen
Phanatic Hockey Editor

Someone somewhere must have decided that Tuesday night's game at Wells Fargo Center would comprise of a bad episode of VH1's "I Love the 90s."

Most of the hallmarks of the fabled dead-puck era were present: territorial domination, a lopsided shot total, a dogpile of wasted opportunities, one goaltender made to look better than the other because of the lack of quality chances, and, inevitably, a head-scratching loss.

Ultimately, it was a timeless bugaboo which struck the Philadelphia Flyers, as Sean Bergenheim's goal off a bad bounce early in the second period proved to be the difference as Florida claimed a 2-1 victory.

"We played the way we wanted. We jumped on them early. We just couldn't score," lamented Jaromir Jagr.

The turning point in a largely somnolent contest came at the 6:23 mark of the middle stanza, when Brian Campbell's hard wraparound at the left post wound its way beyond the goal line, only to take a right turn back into play.

That's where an alert Bergenheim collected the puck and beat Ilya Bryzgalov to the short side high to give the Panthers a two-goal edge.

No matter that Eric Wellwood was the recipient of a gift tally 91 seconds later; a 36-13 shot advantage wasn't enough to overcome that bit of rotten luck.

Stephen Weiss notched the other goal for Kevin Dineen's squad, which has won five games in a row and opened up a five-point lead over idle Washington in the Southeast Division.

Scott Clemmensen, a surprise starter over Jose Theodore, acquitted himself well thanks to 35 stops.

"It's never easy coming off a long lay off there but it was a matter of getting a couple of saves under my belt and after that you kind of go from there," said Clemmensen of his first start since March 3. It's just a matter of trying to get in that comfort zone."

Bryzgalov, the First Star in the league two weeks running, ended up with only 11 saves as Philly couldn't maintain momentum from Sunday's OT win over Pittsburgh. The Penguins rolled over the Jets, 8-4, and separated themselves by four points over the Orange and Black in the race for the fourth spot in the East and home-ice in the first round.

Despite spikes in tempo and a pace which didn't reach a crescendo until late in the first, the hosts began rolling up the shot disparity early on. Still, the power play failed to click on four chances, including a 42-second 5-on-3 with under four minutes to go.

Weiss picked up the lone goal of the opening period, with 6:56 remaining, when he was able to elude capture along the right wing, moved in between the circles and beat Bryzgalov high to the far post.

Then, with the Flyers trailing by two, the shot which got them (and the restless yet less-than-capacity crowd) rolling came from the energetic 22-year-old.

He held the puck behind the goal line to the left of Clemmensen, then attempted to center for Danny Briere only to find the dish caromed off the skate of Ed Jovanovski and in.

“We started out the game with plenty of jump. I thought we came out a little bit sleepy in the second period for a few minutes,” Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette said. “They caught a really nice break off the carom off the glass. After that, I think we got back to work.”

The remaining 32:06 of regulation was an exercise in frustration as countless close calls that gave way to missed open shots eventually led to crashing the net that was a step behind the opposing goaltender.

It was a grim repeat of Flyers-Panthers games of a generation ago, which usually saw the latter come up with one more successful finish than the former who was kept to low percentage shots.

Notes: Clemmensen improved to 4-1-1 against Philadelphia in his career...The loss deprived the Flyers of their chance to sweep the Panthers for the first time since going 4-0-0 in the 2005-06 season...Bergenheim scored just his third goal in his last 11 games...The win snapped Florida's five game losing streak in the Quaker City...The 11 saves tied a season-low for Bryzgalov in a full contest, after he recorded the same amount in a 5-1 loss at Tampa Bay on December 27...Campbell led all players in ice time at 25:16 and assisted on both scores...Pavel Kubina returned to the lineup for the first time since March 6, while Max Talbot and Andreas Lilja both came back after one-game absences...To make room on the roster, Philly sent defensemen Eric Gustafsson and Brandon Marshall to Adirondack of the AHL.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Cena in car accident

WWE superstar John Cena was involved in a car accident on the Schuylkill Expressway in Phialdelphia today.

The former WWE champ, who is in town for Monday Night Raw at Wells Fargo Center, was traveling in an SUV when he was rear-ended by a tractor trailer, according to

Cena’s driver, Jules Anderson, told the WWE the accident happened around 11:30 a.m. while the wrestler was traveling eastbound on Route 76.

"We were doing some early morning media for the event tonight in Philadelphia and we got in a car accident. The Civic was totaled, but no one was hurt, believe it or not," Cens told

While no one was  injured, Anderson told the WWE there was an argument between the drivers after the crash. However, whether because of Cena’s imposing figure or their love for wrestling, Anderson claims the drivers quickly calmed down once they realized Cena was his passenger.

Cena is set for an appearance Monday night at the Wells Fargo Center where he is scheduled for a match
against Mark Henry.

Cena is also preparing for a highly anticipated match against The Rock at WrestleMania XXVIII in less than two weeks.

Eagles sign a pair of backup o-linemen

The Eagles  have signed G/C Mike Gibson to a two-year contract and C/G Steve Vallos to a one-year contract.

Now in his second stint with the Eagles, Gibson (6-3, 298) spent parts of the past three seasons with the Seattle Seahawks. He played in the final three games of the 2011 campaign after appearing in 14 contests with eight starts at guard (five at right, three at left) in 2010. He started both postseason games for Seattle at right guard that season as well. The 26-year old was originally a sixth-round draft choice of the Eagles in 2008 and spent that season on the Injured Reserve list with a shoulder injury. He was a member of the Eagles practice squad in 2009 before being signed by Seattle to their active roster and playing in three games. A native of Napa, CA, Gibson was a college teammate of WR DeSean Jackson at California.

Vallos (6-3, 310) spent the previous four seasons with the Cleveland Browns (2010-11) and Seattle Seahawks (2008-09), playing in 40 games (eight starts). Originally a seventh-round draft choice of the Seahawks in 2007, Vallos spent that entire season on the team’s practice squad. The 27-year-old Vallos is a native of Boardman, OH and played collegiately at Wake Forest.

Bryzgalov 'First Star' once again

For the second consecutive week, Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov earned top honors, leading the list of the NHL's 'Three Stars' for the week ending March 18.

Bryzgalov finished the week with a 3-0-1 record and one shutout, and in a 3-2 victory over the New York Islanders on Thursday managed to set the Flyers' all-time record for scoreless hockey at 249 minutes, 43 seconds. John Vanbiesbrouck held the previous mark of 227:40, set in October of 1999.

The 31-year-old Russian improved to 8-0-1 with a 1.20 goals-against average, .960 save percentage and four shutouts since March 1.

If not for Bryzgalov, this past weekend might have been a lot murkier than the 1-0-1 record the Orange and Black posted against two potential playoff opponents. He stopped 69 of 73 shots in 130 minutes of play, but was 0-for-3 in the shootout at Boston on Saturday.

Phillies finally acknowledge Utley isn't right

Clearwater, FL - Phillies second baseman Chase Utley will visit a specialist as he continues to battle a right knee condition. Utley has yet to appear in a game during spring training.

"Chase's rehab process has come to a bit of a plateau," said Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. in a statement. "He has made some strides but not enough to take the field. He is headed out of town for a few days to be evaluated by a specialist that has helped athletes overcome his issue.

"We anticipate that this trip will allow him to build on what he has already done with [head athletic trainer] Scott Sheridan in order to get over the hump. He wants more than anything to be on the field with his teammates, and we believe that this is a step in that direction."

Utley was also sidelined to start the 2011 campaign because of the knee issue. He missed 46 games and didn't appear in a big league contest until May. The 33-year-old veteran played just 103 games last year and batted only .259, well below his career average of .290, and his power numbers have also dropped.

He reached the 30-homer plateau three times during his career and also knocked in 100 runs four times, but last year he belted just 11 homers and drove in only 44 runs.

Blocked FG leads Soul to win in NOLA

NEW ORLEANS (March 18, 2012) – It was a record-setting night for Philadelphia Soul wide receiver/kick returner Jeff Hughley, but it was a last-second blocked 40-yard field goal by the Soul’s Bryan Robinson that sealed a season-opening, 63-62, victory for the Philadelphia Soul (1-0) over the New Orleans VooDoo (0-1) in front of 5,307 fans at the New Orleans Arena on Sunday night.

“We are excited to get the victory, but we know there are things that we need to work on for next week,” said Soul head coach Doug Plank.  “The good news is that they are all correctable mistakes, but that doesn’t take away from the huge game that Jeff (Hughley) had tonight.”

Hughley, who was named the National Guard MVP, Offensive, Ironman and Playmaker of the Game by the media, set the team’s single-game record for all-purpose yards (357) and kickoff return yards (265), while tying the record for most kickoff returns (10) in a single game.

Philadelphia quarterback Dan Raudabaugh finished by connecting on 22-of-30 passes for 310 yards, seven touchdowns and no interceptions.  Leading the receiving corps for the Soul was Tiger Jones with 10 receptions for 132 yards and three touchdowns, while Donovan Morgan had eight receptions for 86 yards and two touchdowns.  Hughley added four catches for 92 yards and two touchdowns, while adding 265 return yards and a return touchdown.

New Orleans quarterback Kurt Rocco led the VooDoo by connecting on 25-of-39 passes for 314 yards, six touchdowns and no interceptions.  Wide receiver Quorey Payne was New Orleans’ leading receiver with 10 receptions for 130 yards and three touchdowns.

The Soul started the scoring on their first drive when Raudabaugh found Jones on a 7-yard scoring pass to take a 7-0 lead.  After a defensive stop on the VooDoo’s first drive Raudabaugh connected with Morgan on a 13-yard pass play to take a 14-0 lead and finished the first quarter up 14-6.

Raudabaugh added a touchdown strike to Hughley and another to Jones and went into the halftime leading 28-20.

Hughley had a 54-yard kickoff return for a touchdown with 5:18 remaining in the third quarter to give the Soul a 42-34 lead.  The teams continued to exchange scores through the third quarter and into the fourth until New Orleans’ Rocco connected with L.J. Castile with 13:33 remaining in the contest to give the VooDoo their first lead of the game, 48-42.

Fourth quarter touchdowns by Hughley, Derrick Ross and the final score by Morgan with 17 seconds remaining to set up the dramatic finished.  The VooDoo thought they had the game-winning catch when Payne failed to hold on to the ball in the endzone with three seconds left, which forced New Orleans to attempt a 40-yard field goal by kicker Josh Shene for the win.

After a good snap and hold, Soul defensive lineman Bryan Robinson broke through and blocked the kick and the clock ran out and gave the Soul the 63-62 victory.

The side story of the game was the Soul’s penalties and turnovers.  Philadelphia committed 12 penalties to New Orleans’ two, while the Soul fumbled twice and the VooDoo did not fumble.

The Soul travel to face the Eastern Division rival Pittsburgh Power next Friday night at 8 p.m. at the Consol Energy Center.  The game will be shown on NFL Network.

National Guard MVP:  Philadelphia’s Jeff Hughley
Russell Athletic Offensive Player: Philadelphia’s Jeff Hughley
Riddell Defensive Player: New Orleans’ Jorrick Calvin
JLS Ironman: Philadelphia’s Jeff Hughley
AFL Playmaker: Philadelphia’s Jeff Hughley
Cutter’s Catch of the Game: New Orleans’ L.J. Castille’s TD catch in the third quarter.
Spalding Highlight of the Game: New Orleans’ L.J. Castille’s TD catch in the third quarter.