Tuesday, July 31, 2012

DiJulia earns promotion in SJU athletic department

Courtesy of St. Joseph's

Philadelphia, PA -- Don DiJulia has been promoted to Vice President for Athletics/Athletic Director at Saint Joseph's University, it was announced today by Senior Vice President John W. Smithson. DiJulia has served as Associate Vice President/Athletic Director at his alma mater for the past 24 years, and a total of 33 years, counting a stint as Athletic Director from 1976 to 1981.

Since his return to Saint Joseph's in 1988, DiJulia has overseen tremendous growth in both intercollegiate and recreational athletics. During this time, the University has added numerous varsity programs, an array of new facilities including several on the Maguire Campus, and dedicated the Hagan Arena/Ramsay Basketball Center complex in 2009. Under his guidance, SJU has boasted one of the highest student-athlete graduation rates in Division I.

DiJulia was honored at the 2009 NACDA Convention with the Gary Cunningham Lifetime Achievement Award presented by the Division I-AAA Athletics Directors Association (DI-AAA ADA), which is the highest award given by the organization. In 2005, he was chosen as the Northeast Regional Division I-AAA Athletic Director of the Year.

He has spearheaded the hosting of various conference and national tournaments by SJU, including the the 2009 NCAA Men's Basketball Championship First and Second Rounds and the 2000 NCAA Women's Basketball Final Four.

DiJulia is extremely involved in the intercollegiate athletic community, and currently serves on the Atlantic 10 Television and Officiating Committee, the Dad Vail Regatta Board, The Institute for Sport/Spirituality and Character Board, and the Philadelphia CYO Board.

A 1967 graduate of Saint Joseph's and a two-sport athlete as an undergraduate in baseball and basketball, DiJulia was a member of the 1964-65 Hawk basketball team which compiled a 26-1 regular season record and a top 10 national ranking under head coach Dr. Jack Ramsay.

In 2005, DiJulia was inducted into the Hall of Fame for his alma mater, St. James High School, and in 2007, he was inducted into the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame Delaware County Chapter.

Eagles sign WR Brewer

(The Phanatic Magazine) - The Eagles have signed wide receiver Andrew Brewer, a teammate of quarterback Mike Kakfa at Northwestern and a veteran of two UFL seasons.

Brewer was signed after injuries to Riley Cooper (broken collarbone) and Ronald Johnson (dislocated ankle).

The 6-foot-3, 215-pound Brewer played two seasons in the UFL with the Omaha Nighthawks under general manager Rick Mueller, who is now a player personnel executive with the Eagles.

The Tulsa, OK, native was originally recruited to Northwestern as a quarterback, but was converted to wide receiver and ended up catching 76 passes for 1,118 yards and nine touchdowns. As a senior in 2009, he set a school single-season record with 16.2 yards per catch average as he hauled in 57 passes from Kafka for 925 yards and nine scores. 

Johnson was waived/injured to make room for Brewer on the roaster and will be placed on season-ending injured reserve once he passes through waivers.

Provodnikov ready for top jr. welterweights

PHILADELPHIA (The Phanatic Magazine)- WBO number-two ranked Jr. welterweight contender Ruslan Provodnikov is looking to take on any of the champions or top contenders in his next bout and feels he is just an opportunity away from becoming a world champion.

Provodnikov (22-1, 15 KO’s) of Beryozovo, Russia has won five fights in a row which include four impressive knockouts and has been tabbed by many boxing insiders as one of the most exciting fighters in the world.

"We are looking for the biggest fights now for Ruslan," said Provodnikov’s promoter Artie Pelullo of Philadelphia-based Banner Promotions.

"We are targeting the likes of Danny Garcia, Juan Manuel Marquez, Mike Alvarado or Lamont Peterson, we feel that Ruslan is not only worthy of those opportunities but we have all the confidence that he would beat any of them."

Provodnikov is coming off of an impressive second round stoppage over Jose Reynoso on June 29.

"Ruslan has built a nice reputation and he has thrilled many fans during his appearances on ESPN 2 and now he is eying a world championship," Pelullo said.

"Ruslan has grown to a different skill level in the past year. Training at the Wild Card Gym and sparring more than 70 rounds with Manny Pacquiao as well as other world class fighters like Amir Khan, has really paid off more than we even hoped for," said Provodnikov’s manager Vadim Kornilov. "Ruslan is ready to fight anybody in his division and after the Amir Khan vs. Danny Garcia fight he was quoted saying that he was "anxious to fight Danny Garcia and he knows it would be a very exciting fight because of their similar brawler styles."

Provodnikov is trained by Hall of Famer Freddie Roach and he is in agreement with Pelullo and Kornilov.

"Ruslan has been sparring with Pacquiao and Khan and he does very well with them and I believe he is ready for a big bout.  He is very durable and improved so much in the last Pacquiao camp that I feel he is ready for the big time," said Roach.

Phils call up Brown, activate Schneider

The moves keep coming for the Phillies, who have activated catcher Brian Schneider from the 15-day disabled list and called up Domonic Brown from Triple-A Lehigh Valley.

Soul's Hughley named to All-Ironman Team

Soul Ironman Jeff Hughley
(The Phanatic Magazine) - Six multi-position players, including the Soul's Jeff Hughley, have been named to the 2012 Arena Football League All-Ironman Team, the league office announced Tuesday.

Hughley made his third consecutive All-Ironman Team after setting single-season franchise records for kickoff return and combined kick return yards (1,865) in his first year with the Soul. He also collected 77 passes for 1,001 yards and 19 touchdowns as a receiver and tallied 24.5 tackles on defense and special teams.

Others named to the team include: Ironman of the Year PJ Berry of the  Pittsburgh Power, Jacksonville's Terrance Smith, Spokane's Terrance Sanders, Milwaukee's Marcus Everett and Jackie Chambers of the Kansas City Command.

Penn State's Redd to transfer to USC

RB Silas Redd (courtesy of the U.S. Army)
(The Phanatic Magazine) - A Penn State source has confirmed that highly-touted running back Silas Redd has decided to transfer to USC and will be informing Penn State coaches Tuesday afternoon.

Redd is the highest-profile player to transfer from Penn State in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal.

On Monday, backup safety Tim Buckley became the first Penn State football player to transfer when he went to North Carolina State.

Redd will be able to compete this season for the Trojans and has two seasons of eligibility left.

USC confirmed the news with a statement later Tuesday.

"We welcome Silas Redd to the Trojan Family," USC athletic director Pat Haden said. " He is an outstanding student and athlete. When the NCAA presented the option to transfer, Silas and his family put a lot of thought and research into making this decision.

"At USC, we've seen both sides of this issue, having lost a number of players to transfer due to our NCAA sanctions in 2010. But Lane Kiffin and his coaches would not be doing their job if they did not try to improve our team every single day. There is a specific need here for a player like Silas Redd, so Lane and our coaches recruited him within the guidelines set up in this instance by the NCAA."

Phillies trade Pence to Giants

Hunter Pence (courtesy of Keith Allison)
The San Francisco Giants have acquired Hunter Pence from the Phillies for outfielder Nate Schierholtz and prospects Tommy Joseph, a highly-regarded catcher, and Seth Rosin, a right-handed reliever.

Schierholtz, 28, was hitting .257 with five home runs and 17 RBI in 77 games with San Francisco.  A left-handed hitter, Schierholtz has made 37 starts in right field this year.

Joseph, who just turned 21, is currently in Double-A, where he is batting .263 with eight home runs and 38 RBI. He figures as the eventual replacement for aging All-Star Carlos Ruiz, who is having a career offensive year at 33.

Rosin, 23, has gone 2-1 with 10 saves and a 4.31 ERA in 34 games (five starts) for single-A San Jose this season.

Pence was leading the Phillies in runs (59), hits (108), home runs (17), RBI (59), walks (37), and total bases (178) in 2012 but his often undisciplined play has left him open to criticism.

 The 29-year old outfielder has batted .287 with 28 home runs and 94 RBIs in 155 games, basically one full season, since being acquired from Houston at the trade deadline last season.

Phillies ship Victorino to Dodgers

Shane Victorino (courtesy of Matthew Crowne)
(The Phanatic Magazine) - Shane Victorino is returning to the organization that drafted him in 1999.

The Los Angeles Dodgers have acquired Victorino  for reliever Josh Lindblom and starting pitching prospect Ethan Martin.

Victorino, 31,. has spent the past eight seasons with the Phillies.  In 987 games with the club, he batted .279 with 181 doubles, 63 triples, 88 home runs, 390 RBI and 179 stolen bases.  In 46 postseason games, he compiled a .269 batting average with six home runs and 30 RBI.

This season, Victorino was hitting .261 with nine home runs, 40 RBI and 24 stolen bases in 101 games.

During his time with the Phillies, Victorino was a two-time National League All-Star and a three-time National League Gold Glove Award winner.

Victorino, who is due just over $3 million for the rest of the 2012 campaign and will be a free agent after the season, is expected to play left field in LA while Domonic Brown will be called up from Triple-A to handle left for the Phils with John Mayberry Jr. taking over duties in center.

“We’re excited to add an All-Star caliber player with postseason experience,” said Dodgers GM Ned Colletti. “He plays the game with passion, gives us a top of the order bat from both sides of the plate, can steal bases and is solid defensively in the outfield.”

Lindblom, 25, is a 6-foot-4 right-hander with a plus arm was 2-2 with a 3.02 ERA in 48 games this season for the Dodgers, holding opposing hitters to a .241 batting average.  He was averaging 8.1 strikeouts per 9.0 innings pitched (43 SO/47.2 IP). 

Martin, meanwhile, was rated as the 17th best prospect in the Dodgers' system. The 23-year-old was 8-6 with a 3.58 ERA in 20 starts for double-A Chattanooga.  He held opposing hitters to a .214 batting average and allowed only five home runs in 118.0 innings.

For his minor league career, Martin, who was a first-round selection (15th overall) for the Dodgers in 2008, has averaged 9.3 strikeouts per 9.0 innings pitched.

Sixers confirm Maalik Wayns deal

PHILADELPHIA (The Phanatic Magazine) - The Sixers have confirmed the signing of rookie free agent point guard Maalik Wayns.

Wayns (6-foot-2, 200) was an early entry candidate for the 2012 NBA Draft following his junior season at Villanova. 

He was named second team All-BIG EAST in 2011-12 after averaging team-highs of 17.6 points and 4.6 assists to go along with 3.8 rebounds per game.  Wayns also ranked seventh in the nation in free throw shooting (89.2 percent) this past season.

As a member of the Orlando Magic in the 2012 Orlando Pro Summer League, Wayns appeared in three games, averaging 11.7 points, 5.7 assists, 2.3 rebounds and 2.33 steals in 26.7 minutes per game.  He was ranked second in the league in both assists and steals per game.

A native of Philadelphia, Wayns attended Roman Catholic High School and was a Parade and McDonald’s All-American.

Babin could miss entire preseason

Eagles Pro Bowl DE Jason Babin
(Phanatic Magazine) - Eagles pass rushing defensive end Jason Babin is expected to miss at least three weeks and possibly the entire preseason, according to CSNPhilly.com.

A Monday MRI on Babin's injured calf reportedly showed a a Grade 2 muscle strain, meaning there's a small tear in the muscle and some accompanying bleeding.

Babin suffered the injury during 1-on-1 drills at a training camp practice on Saturday.

Temple finishes 8th in Big East media poll

(The Phanatic Magazine) - Temple was picked eighth in the BIG EAST conference’s annual preseason media poll.preseason Tuesday.

The Owls return to BIG EAST play, bringing back just 10 starters back from last year’s team that went 9-4. Head coach Steve Addazio will turn to a solid running back tandem of Montel Harris — the active career rushing leader among FBS players — and Matt Brown.

With 17 starters returning from a team that tied for the BIG EAST championship last season, Louisville has been tabbed as the overwhelming favorite to win the 2012 title in the conference’s annual preseason media poll.

The Cardinals received 24 of a possible 28 first-place votes and had 219 points in the preseason voting of media representatives. USF received the other three first-place votes.

Louisville went 7-6 overall last season, but the Cardinals won five of their last six regular-season games to finish 5-2 in BIG EAST play and earn a share of their second league title since 2006. Head coach Charlie Strong brings nine starters back from one of the stingiest defenses in the nation, anchored by two-time All-BIG EAST safety Hakeem Smith, while the Cardinals are expecting big things on offense with the development of sophomore quarterback Teddy Bridgewater — the unanimous BIG EAST Rookie of the Year in 2011.

USF went 5-7 overall and 1-6 in the BIG EAST last season, but the Bulls were the solid No. 2 pick in the preseason poll with 176 points thanks to the return of 17 starters from last season. The Bulls saw three of their last four losses come on field goals either as time expired or in overtime last year, but head coach Skip Holtz can lean on veteran quarterback B.J. Daniels and a stout defense to turn things around.

Rutgers was third in the preseason poll with 155 points. The Scarlet Knights were picked eighth in last year’s poll, but ended up with a chance to win the championship in their regular-season finale. First-year head coach Kyle Flood finds 15 starters back from last year’s team who are looking forward to finishing the job, including linebacker Khaseem Greene — the 2011 BIG EAST Defensive Player of the Year.

Cincinnati was fourth in the preseason poll with 139 points. The Bearcats tied for the league title last year and capped the season with a win against Vanderbilt in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl. But head coach Butch Jones will need to find replacements for players who were named BIG EAST Offensive and Defensive Player of the Year last season. All-BIG EAST safety Drew Frey anchors a defense that led the nation in tackles for loss.

Pittsburgh was picked fifth in the preseason poll. The Panthers, who are looking for their fifth consecutive postseason appearance, battled through a number of key injuries to finish 6-7 overall and 4-3 in the BIG EAST last season. New head coach Paul Chryst will turn to standout running back Ray Graham and All-BIG EAST safety Jarred Holley to shoulder the load while a young defense — with four returning starters — finds its way.

Connecticut was tabbed sixth in the preseason poll. Head coach Paul Pasqualoni has a defense that returns eight starters from last year and a pair of dangerous offensive options with the return of running back Lyle McCombs and tight end Ryan Griffin — both All-BIG EAST picks last season.

Syracuse was seventh in the preseason poll after the Orange came up just short in their bid for back-to-back postseason appearances. Head coach Doug Marrone has a veteran quarterback — third-year starter Ryan Nassib — a talented group of receivers, and a solid defense that has seven returning starters.

Team (First-Place Votes)
Louisville (24)
USF (4)

Soul ready to go Shark hunting

By Caitlin Kalinowski
Special to philadelphiasoul.com

PHILADELPHIA – The Eastern Division Champion Philadelphia Soul (16-3) host the defending ArenaBowl champion, Jacksonville Sharks (11-8) in the American Conference Championship game at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia at 8 p.m. ET this Friday, August 3.

Friday’s game marks the first time the Soul will be playing in the American Conference Championship since winning the ArenaBowl in 2008.  Philadelphia, who shattered the AFL single-season scoring record with 1,228 points, earned their spot in the Conference Championship by defeating the New Orleans VooDoo 66-53 in Saturday’s hard fought First Round playoff game. 

“This is what we set as a goal back when we opened training camp in February,” said Soul head coach Doug Plank.  “The opportunity to play in the ArenaBowl is right in front of us and we will need to continue to play at the high level against the defending champions if we expect to come away with the victory.”

Soul QB Dan Raudabaugh finished the game by connecting on 19-of-31 passes for 250 yards, seven touchdowns and zero interceptions.  Offensive Player of the Game, Donovan Morgan finished with four receptions for 80 yards and three touchdowns.  JLS Ironman of the Game Jeff Hughley recorded eight receptions for 76 yards and two touchdowns.  He also added five kick returns for 110 yards. Larry Brackins contributed three receptions for 43 yards and two touchdowns and Emery Sammons had four receptions for 51 yards.

Defensively, Rayshaun Kizer recorded 7.5 tackles and two interceptions.  Bryan Robinson recorded 3.0 tackles, including two sacks.  LaRico Stevenson recorded an integral forced fumble and recovery late in the game.

While the Soul ran away with the victory in the final minutes of their game, the Sharks faced a more uncertain outcome.  Jacksonville narrowly beat the Georgia Force 58-56.  Sharks kicker Marco Capozzoli managed to sneak in a 51-yard field goal as time expired for the victory.

The Sharks are led by QB Bernard Morris, who has completed 217-of-349 passes for 2,402 yards, 59 touchdowns and 14 interceptions in 14 games this season.  Jeron Harvey led all Shark receivers with 101 receptions for 970 yards and 25 touchdowns, while Terrance Smith had 99 receptions for 1,158 yards and 29 touchdowns.

The players who contributed to Saturday’s victory are the same players who have made the Soul’s 2012 season such a success.  All-Arena and National Guard MVP candidate, Raudabaugh has rewritten the Soul’s franchise history books.  Raudabaugh broke team records for passing yards in a single season (4,790), passing touchdowns in a single season (115), pass completions in a single season (362) and touchdown passes in a game (11).

Part of Raudabaugh’s successful season can be attributed to the Soul’s offensive line.  Arguably the backbone of Philadelphia’s record-breaking offense, the line – comprised of Brennen Carvalho, Christian Johnson, Devin Clark and Zipp Duncan – has tied the franchise record for sacks allowed in a single season (5).

FB Derrick Ross, a candidate for National Guard MVP, Offensive Player of the Year, and All-Arena, has also contributed to Philadelphia’s offensive successes.  Ross broke numerous franchise records, including rushing attempts in a single season (146), rushing touchdowns in a single season (32) and rushing yards in a single game (84).  The former Tarleton State Texan broke his own League record for rushing yards in a single season (645).

The Soul’s defense has also proved to be integral to the team’s winning ways.  DL Bryan Robinson’s excellent play throughout the regular season has earned him candidacy for Defensive Player of the Year, Defensive Lineman of the Year and All-Arena.  Robinson has broken the League’s single-season record for blocked kicks (7) as well as the single-season franchise record for sacks (10).

Defensive Player of the Year and All-Arena candidate DB Kent Richardson has made an impact on the Soul’s defensive this year.  Richardson’s impressive numbers have helped put him in the Top 10 for many League defensive stats this season.  He’s also moved into Philadelphia’s record books, breaking the franchise single-season interception record (14).

Ex-Sixer Green headed to LA

(The Phanatic Magazine)  - The Atlanta Hawks completed a sign-and-trade transaction on Monday which sent ex-Sixer guard Willie Green to the Los Angeles Clippers in exchange for the rights to Sofoklis Schortsanitis. 

The move also creates a trade exception for the Hawks.

Green played in 53 regular season contests for Atlanta in 2011-12, averaging 7.6 ppg and 1.5 rpg in 17.4 mpg.

Schortsanitis was selected by the Clippers in the second round (34th overall) of the 2003 NBA Draft.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Flyers, Titans renew affiliation

Courtesy of the Philadelphia Flyers

The Philadelphia Flyers announced today that they have reached a minor league affiliation agreement with the Trenton Titans of the ECHL, according to General Manager Paul Holmgren

“We are pleased to have The Trenton Titans as our ECHL affiliate and look forward to working closely with them on developing future Flyers in a winning environment,” Holmgren said. 

“We are thrilled to be back with the Flyers as their ECHL affiliate,” said Trenton President/CEO Rich Lisk.  “Our relationship has always been strong with the Flyers and we look forward to taking that to the next level.  I am happy to call Trenton – the Home of Future Philadelphia Flyers.”

This will be the second consecutive year that the Titans will serve as the Flyers’ ECHL affiliate.  Under the agreement, players contracted to either the Flyers or the Adirondack Phantoms can be assigned to Trenton, while players contracted to Trenton can be called up by Adirondack.  A total of seven players appeared in games for both Adirondack and Trenton last season, including Trenton’s top two scorers, Andy Bombach and Rob Bordson. 

This will be the tenth overall season that the Flyers and Trenton have worked together to develop Flyers prospects.  The Titans served as the Flyers’ ECHL affiliate from 1999 to 2007 before realigning with the Flyers again last year.  The club plays out of Trenton’s Sun National Bank Center, which is operated by Global Spectrum, Comcast-Spectacor’s facility management company. 

The Trenton Titans returned in the 2011-12 season after a five year hiatus and boasted a 26.1% increase in attendance over the previous year, the largest of any team in the 20-team ECHL.

Eagles' Johnson suffers major leg injury

(Phanatic Magazine) - Eagles wide receiver Ron Johnson suffered a gruesome leg injury, believed to be a broken ankle, during 7-on-7s drills Monday afternoon.

The USC product spent the 15 games on the Eagles practice squad last season before being promoted to the active roster on Dec. 31 after the team placed safety Kurt Coleman on injured reserve list.

Originally a sixth round draft choice by San Francisco in the 2011 NFL draft, Johnson played in 47 games at USC, compiling 3,501 all-purpose yards for the Trojans.

Titans wide receiver O.J. Murdock commits suicide

(Phanatic Magazine) - Tennessee Titans wide receiver O.J. Murdock has died of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound in his hometown of Tampa.

The Tampa Police Department confirmed that Murdock was taken to Tampa General Hospital in critical condition after he was found in his car in front of Middleton High School around 8:30 a.m. An updated release confirmed his death at 10:43 a.m.

"We are shocked and saddened to hear of O.J. Murdock’s death this morning," the Titans said in a release. "In his brief time here, a number of our players, coaches and staff had grown close to O.J., and this is a difficult time for them. He spent the last year battling back from an Achilles injury as he prepared for this year’s training camp. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends as they try to cope with this tragedy."

Murdock spent all of last season on injured reserve last season with the Titans after injuring his Achilles' and did not report to training camp on Friday.

When asked about his absence, Tennessee coach Mike Munchak claimed it was for "personal reasons."

In a macabre coincidence, Murdock's teammate in college at South Carolina, fellow wide receiver Kenny McKinley, was found dead on Sept. 20, 2010, also from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

The Arapahoe, Colorado County Sheriff's Department later concluded that McKinley's suicide was related to depression over debt, injury and post-playing career concerns.

Sixers sign former Villanova point guard Maalik Wayns

(Phanatic Magazine) - Former Villanova guard Maalik Wayns has signed a free agent deal with his hometown 76ers.

Wayns, who also starred at Roman Catholic where he was a Parade All-American as well as a McDonald's All-American, was not selected in the recent NBA Draft after leaving Villanova after his junior campaign.

According to the Montgomery County Times Herald, Wayns (6-foot-2, 200) agreed to a deal similar to the one Lavoy Allen received after the Sixers took him in the second round of the 2011 NBA Draft at No. 50 overall.

Allen received a $60,000 signing bonus from the Sixers and went on to receive the rookie minimum of $473,604 after making the team.

Wayns should be in the mix as a backup point guard along with veteran Royal Ivey behind Jrue Holiday.

Pence on the move?

(Phanatic Magazine) - A weekend sweep at the hands of the Atlanta Braves has almost surely positioned the Phillies as sellers before Tuesday's trade deadline and KPIX-TV in San Francisco has reported that the Giants have a "deal in place" for Philadelphia right fielder Hunter Pence, pending ownership approval.

Giants' VP Bobby Evans texted KPIX-TV, however, and claimed no deal is done yet.

The speculation around the trade is focused on the Giants' second ranked organizational prospect, catcher Tommy Joseph.

Joseph, who just turned 21, is currently in Double-A, where he is batting .263 with eight home runs and 38 RBI. He figures as the eventual replacement for aging All-Star Carlos Ruiz, who is having a career offensive year at 33.

Pence leads in the Phillies in games played (100), runs (59), hits (106), home runs (17), RBI (59), walks (37), and total bases (176) in 2012 but his often undisciplined play has left him open to criticism.

The 29-year old outfielder has batted .287 with 28 home runs and 94 RBIs in 154 games, basically one full season, since being acquired from Houston at the trade deadline last season.

NFL Network to air Soul Conference Championship Game

(Phanatic Magazine) - The AFL’s American Conference Championship game featuring the No. 2 seed Jacksonville Sharks (11-8) at the top-seeded Philadelphia Soul  (16-4) will be broadcasted nationally on “NET10 Arena Football Friday” on NFL Network this Friday, August 3rd.

Philadelphia convincingly dropped the New Orleans VooDoo, 66-53, to advance while the Sharks narrowly escaped the Georgia Force, 58-56, this evening. Sharks kicker Marco Capozzoli converted on a 51-yard field goal as the clock expired to bring Jacksonville to the next round.

The Soul defeated the Sharks twice during the regular season and outscored Jacksonville 118-65.

David Baumann will join Anthony Herron in the NFL Network broadcast booth. Sherdrick Bonner will serve as the sideline analyst for the game.

Real Madrid Announces Travel Roster For Herbalife World Football Challenge

(Phanatic Magazine) - Real Madrid, who will face Celtic FC at Lincoln Financial Field on August 11th, has announced its travel squad as part of the Herbalife World Football Challenge.

The 25-man roster features some of the world’s biggest stars, including Cristiano Ronaldo, Iker Casillas, Kaka, Mesut Özil, Sergio Ramos and many more.

Winners of nine European championships and 32 Spanish La Liga titles, Real Madrid are the reigning La Liga champions after winning the title in May. Their 32-2-4 record gave them a league-best 100 points and their 121 goals scored were league record.

Real Madrid’s offense, which has averaged 2.93 goals per league-game under head coach Jose Mourinho, is led by Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo, who scored a team-high 64 goals in all competitions last season. A former FIFA World Payer of the Year winner, Ronaldo is joined up front by Frenchmen Karim Benzema and Argentine Gonzalo Higuain, who have each scored more than 20 goals in La Liga the past two seasons. That trio is supported by a midfield that features World Cup and Euro champion Xabi Alonso, 2007 FIFA Player of the Year winner Kaka, Argentine winger Angel Di Maria and the German duo of Sami Khedira and Mesut Özil.

Along with their wealth of attacking talent, Madrid also have one of the best defenses in the world with World Cup champion and club captain Iker Casillas leading the way in goal for Mourinho’s squad. In front of him, Sergio Ramos, who was a member of Spain’s squads that captured the 2010 World Cup and the 2008 and 2012 Euro championships, marshals a back four that also features Portuguese internationals Fabio Coentrão and Pepe as well as Spanish internationals Raúl Albiol and Alvaro Arbeloa.

This will be the second consecutive season that Mourinho and Real Madrid will play in Philadelphia, after last year’s friendly against the Philadelphia Union which sold over 57,000 tickets.

Tickets for this year’s match are still available and can be purchased by visiting www.philadelphiaeagles.com, www.ticketmaster.com, or www.worldfootballchallenge.com.

Real Madrid Herbalife World Football Challenge 2012 Roster

GOALKEEPER (3) – Iker Casillas, Antonio Adán, Jesus Fernandez Collado

DEFENDERS (7) – Raul Albiol, Alvaro Arbeola, Fabio Coentrão, Jose Nacho Fernández, Pepe, Sergio Ramos, Raphael Varane

MIDFIELDER (11) – Xabi Alonso, Jose Maria Callejon, Angel Di Maria, Lass Diarra, Alex Fernandez, Esteban Granero, Kaka, Sami Khedira, Mesut Özil, Jese Rodriguez, Nuri Sahin

FORWARD (4) – Karim Benzema, Gonzalo Higuain, Alvaro Morata, Cristiano Ronaldo

HEAD COACH – José Mourinho

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Union rally to beat Revs

Union F Jack McInerney

By John McMullen

CHESTER (The Phanatic Magazine) - There was no David Beckham to make the ladies swoon and no impressive fireworks show at halftime but there was soccer on the Delaware Riverfront Sunday as the Philadelphia Union got back to league play by rallying past the New England Revolution, 2-1, in front of a sellout 18,598 at PPL Park.

Just four days after the MLS All-Stars stunned Chelsea FC, 3-2, behind a stoppage-time goal from Seattle's Eddie Johnson, the atmosphere was far more tempered until Jack McInerney did his best Johnson impression by burying a header past Revolution goalkeeper Matt Reis in the 90th minute to lift
Philadelphia to its first comeback win of the season.

Moments after McInerney's marker, Union All-Star defender Carlos Valdes saved the game in stoppage
time by clearing a shot headed toward the empty net.

"We're slowly chipping away. We've got another first in our season," said Union interim head coach John Hackworth. "That's really important, because, to be at this point in the season, and not even come back to get a result, [would be disappointing]. To do it in the fashion we did, and to get a win and three points, that's huge."

Freddy Adu also scored on a penalty kick for the Union (7-10-2, 23 points), who remained undefeated against the Revs (6-10-5, 23 pts) in franchise history and have won four straight at PPL Park under

With the game even at one apiece and looking like a draw, Philadelphia's best offensive defender, Sheanon Williams, pinched up and flanked the New England defense on the right wing before serving a  beautiful crossing pass which McInerney headed home as things winded down. He then jumped off the field and into the River End to celebrate.

"It's a confidence builder," McInerney told the team's website. "I think it just shows the character of our team. We want to be in the playoffs, and we don't give up until the end of the game."

Adu, who was held out of the Union's last match, a 2-0 setback at New York on July 21, for disciplinary reasons, got his chance in the 59th minute when McInerney was taken down just inside the box. Reis actually guessed right but Adu had enough mustard on the freebie to slip it past the netminder.

New England, which has won just one of 11 road matches this season, scored its only marker in the 12th minute when Frenchman Saer Sene, who gave the Union fits most of the night, took a deflection and ripped a laser with bend from 30-plus yards out which got on top of Union GK Zac MacMath quickly.

"I think you see the character of these players," Hackworth said. "They continually come out [and play]. I don't think we played great in the first half, and for them to come out and try to play with a lot of confidence in the second half, it [shows a lot]."


*Philadelphia's substitutions were Michael Lahoud for Gabriel Gomez in the 59th minute, Lionard Pajoy for Antoine Hoppenot in the 78th and Josue Martinez for Adu in the 82nd.

*The Union are now 10-for-10 all-time in penalty kicks.

*The Union's defense struggled for most of the night, particularly Amobi Okugo and Gabriel Farfan, who are actually mindfielders forced back out of necessity.Okugo had been playing especially well recently but his inexperience finally showed tonight. Bakary Soumare, the former MLS All-Star defender who returned to the league when he signed with the Union on June 26, has been recovering from right knee surgery and should be ready to help shortly.

Five Owls snare preseason All-Big East honors

PHILADELPHIA (The Phanatic Magazine) – Five Temple Owls have been named members of the 2012 preseason All-BIG EAST Conference teams, according to College Sports Madness.

Junior DT Levi Brown was the only Owl named to the All-BIG EAST first team.

All-BIG EAST second team honorees were seniors RB Matt Brown (Baltimore, Md.) and S Justin Gildea (Hollidaysburg, Pa.).

Earning third-team recognition were senior OL Martin Wallace (New York, N.Y.), PK Brandon McManus (Hatfield, Pa.), and Brown at kick returner.

Temple opens the 2012 season against Villanova in the fourth annual Mayor's Cup on Friday, Aug. 31 at Lincoln Financial Field.

Hansen takes Bronze, Kitajima falters

The individual portion of Brendan Hansen's Olympic career concluded on Sunday evening in London, as he finished with the Bronze medal in the final of the 100 meter breaststroke.

Taking the Gold, with a World Record time of 58.46 seconds, was South Africa's Cameron van der Burgh. That bested the original mark of 58.58 set by Brenton Rickard of Australia in 2009.

Silver went to Christian Sprenger of Australia, .47 seconds off the winning pace, followed by Hansen, who was 1.03 seconds behind.

Hansen's rival, Japan's Kosuke Kitajima -- who bested Hansen in Athens and Beijing -- finished a disappointing fifth, as he was 1.33 seconds behind van der Burgh.

The 30-year-old native of Havertown, PA ended up with a total of three individual medals over three Olympiads: A Silver in the 100m and a Bronze in the 200m breaststroke in 2004, and today's Bronze. His two Golds were won as part of the United States' victorious team in the 4x100m medley relay at both Athens and Beijing. He has a chance for another first-place finish during the relay, which takes place next weekend.

Kitajima was attempting to become the first male swimmer to take Gold in an individual event in three successive games.

Even VooDoo can't stop Soul

PHILADELPHIA (The Phanatic Magazine)  – The Philadelphia Soul reached the American Conference Championship Game with a 66-53 win over the New Orleans VooDoo in front of 6,976 fans at the Wells Fargo Center on Saturday night.

“I’m really proud of the players,” said Soul head coach Doug Plank.  “They were able to maintain their fortitude, especially in the second half, and they stayed focused until the very end of the game.”

Soul QB Dan Raudabaugh finished the game by connecting on 19-of-31 passes for 250 yards, seven touchdowns and no interceptions. Donovan Morgan was named MVP of the Game after finishing with four receptions for 80 yards and three touchdowns.

Iron Man of the Game Jeff Hughley recorded eight receptions for 76 yards and two touchdowns.  He also added five kick returns for 110 yards. Larry Brackins contributed three receptions for 43 yards and two touchdowns and Emery Sammons had four receptions for 51 yards.

Defensively,  Rayshaun Kizer recorded 7.5 tackles and  two interceptions.  Brian Robinson recorded 3.0 tackles, including two sacks.  LaRico Stevenson recorded an integral forced fumble and recovery.

New Orlean’s QB Kurt Rocco connected 20-of-37 passes for 252 yards, six touchdowns and two interceptions.  Josh Bush had eight receptions for 96 yards and five touchdowns.  Quorey Payne added six receptions for 83 yards and one touchdown.

Scoring began with a quarterback sneak by Rocco, followed by a 6-yard touchdown reception by Brackins.  With 11 seconds on the clock, Bush’s two-yard touchdown reception gave New Orleans a 14-7 lead at the end of the quarter.

Philadelphia scored first in the second quarter with a 15-yard touchdown reception by Hughley.  Following an interception by Rayshaun Kizer, Brackins scored on a 19-yard touchdown reception.  An on-side kick by Philadelphia’s Remy Hamilton was recovered by the Soul, a possession resulting in a 25-yard touchdown reception by Morgan.  Hamilton’s second on-side kick was recovered by New Orleans and resulted in a 10-yard touchdown reception by Bush.  New Orleans continued to hack away at Philadelphia’s lead with a safety by Marlon Favorite followed by a 32-yard touchdown reception by Payne.  With no time on the clock Hamilton completed a 34-yard field goal to end the first half with the Soul leading 31-30.

Third-quarter scoring opened with a 29-yard field goal by Gary Cismesia.  Morgan scored on a 29-yard touchdown reception and New Orleans responded with a 20-yard touchdown reception by Bush.  Ross’ 1-yard run for a touchdown ended the third-quarter scoring with Philadelphia leading 44-39.

The two teams took turns scoring in the fourth quarter with the Soul coming up with one more touchdown than the VooDoo.  Ross’ 1-yard run for Philadelphia’s final touchdown ended the game with a final score of 66-53.

The Soul will compete host the Jacksonville Sharks in the American Conference Championship on Friday, August 3 at 8 p.m.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Birds' WR Cooper felled by broken collarbone

Eagles WR Riley Cooper
Eagles training camp has claimed its first victim.

Wide receiver Riley Cooper sustained a broken left collarbone during a Saturday practice and will be out six weeks, according to head coach Andy Reid.

"Riley Cooper will have surgery on Monday to fix that collarbone," the coach said. "They’ll plate the collarbone and we’re thinking six weeks in that area."

The fifth-round draft pick in 2010 finished last season with 16 catches for 315 yards and a touchdown in 16 games for Philadelphia.

Asked how the Eagles would replace Cooper, the team's fourth receiver, Reid pointed to his young players.

“I’m going to just leave it the way it is. We’re going to leave it and let the young guys get some work in and see what they can do," said Reid.

Havertown's Hansen to have shot at 100m breaststroke Gold

Havertown, PA native and University of Texas product Brendan Hansen, back at the Olympics once again for a final shot at an individual Gold medal, will get that chance for glory.

Hansen qualified for the final of the 100-meter breaststroke Saturday night in London, sneaking in with the eighth and final spot by a paltry .11 seconds.

The 30-year-old Hansen already claims two Olympic gold medals, but both came in relays. He won a Silver and Bronze medal in individual events in Athens eight years ago, but was shut out and shut down by rival Kosuke Kitajima four years back in Beijing.

The 100-meter finals are scheduled for Sunday afternoon. Broadcast is scheduled for 3:11 PM, according to NBC's Olympic web site.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Sixers confirm Royal Ivey deal

PHILADELPHIA – (The Phanatic Magazine) – The Sixers made it official today, bringing back guard Royal Ivey. 

Ivey (6-foot-4, 215) was originally the 37th overall pick by Atlanta in the 2004 NBA Draft.  In eight seasons, he has appeared in 437 games with 109 starts, averaging 3.4 points, 1.1 assists and 1.1 rebounds in 12.5 minutes per game.  For his career, Ivey has an assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.00.  Over the past four seasons, he has recorded 75 steals with just 48 turnovers.

The Sixers first signed Ivey as a free agent on July 28, 2008.  He played in 97 regular season games for Philly before being traded along with Primoz Brezec and a second round pick to Milwaukee in exchange for Francisco Elson and Jodie Meeks on February 18, 2010.

Ivey spent the past two seasons with Oklahoma City, which advanced to the Western Conference Finals in 2011 and the NBA Finals last month.

Schedule release is much ado about nothing | Dallas-Fort Worth Sports News - Sports News on t...

Schedule release is much ado about nothing | Dallas-Fort Worth Sports News - Sports News on t...

Sixers to open 50th season in Philly on Halloween

PHILADELPHIA (The Phanatic Magazine) – The 76ers will tip-off the 2012-13 regular season on Wednesday, October 31st at 7 p.m. against the Denver Nuggets. 

The Sixers are coming off of their first winning season since 2004-05 and advanced to the second round of the playoffs for the first time since 2003, taking Boston to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals.

Philadelphia will play 10 of their first 15 games at home, including five straight from November 11-20.  It is the most home games the team has had within the first 15 games of a season since 1988-89.

Following a season-high eight game road trip, which runs from Sunday, December 23 at Brooklyn through Saturday, January 5 at San Antonio, the Sixers will play 13 of their next 15 at home.  That includes the team’s longest home stand of the season which spans eight games beginning on Saturday, January 26 against New York and ending on Monday, February 11 vs. the L.A. Clippers.

The team will play 22 sets of back-to-back games in 2012-13, including home games on Saturday, November 24 vs. Oklahoma City and Sunday, November 25 vs. Phoenix.

The Sixers will face each NBA team at least once at home and once on the road, including playing Eastern Conference opponents twice at home and twice on the road, except for the following: Chicago (1 home, 2 road), Detroit (2 home, 1 road), Orlando (2 home, 1 road) and Washington (1 home, 2 road).

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Voracek speaks after signing

Courtesy of the Philadelphia Flyers

Q: Paul Holmgren said yesterday that they were close to signing you at the time and that you would be on the top line with Claude Giroux and Scott Hartnell...How does that make you feel?

"Obviously the season is long. I am very happy that the Flyers gave me an opportunity to play on a top line with [Claude Giroux] and [Scott Hartnell]. Like I said you never know what happens during the season. I just have to work hard and hopefully we are going to play great together. It is going to be up to [Peter Laviolette] what he is going to do with the lines. I am sure it is something good."

Q: It seems like it took a while for them to get you resigned...Can you talk about what it was like waiting it out?

"Well, I was patient. We all knew what was going on with free agency and last week with what was going on with Shea Weber. If I was getting signed, I was getting signed. If I wasn't, I wasn't. I was patient and I knew I was going to get that opportunity to sign. That is exactly what happened yesterday. I am happy we agree on the terms of the deal and [I am] very happy to be locked up by the Flyers for the next four years."

Q: The fact that you are possibly on the first line this year, are you looking forward, possibly, to some power play time and a more significant role overall with the team?

"I don't think I could get more power-play time than I did last year because I was on the top line with [Claude Giroux], [Scott Hartnell], [Wayne Simmonds] and Kimmo [Timonen]. I think it worked pretty well. The power-play time was very good. I would say since December, I played a lot of minutes for the team. I was getting more confident every game and every shift I took. I was very happy with my last year and with the way [Peter Laviolette] had trust in me. It was a big decision and I am very happy for that. I am very excited for a new year."

Q: On scoring goals, improving his shot and what type of goals he can put up playing with Claude Giroux

"It is hard to say the numbers. I am always careful before the season starts saying what numbers I can put [up]. I always say my shot isn't bad; I think I have a good shot  and a heavy shot. My accuracy isn't as good as it could be and I miss the net a lot when I am shooting. If I can hit the net more often, I think more goals are going to go in and the more points are going to come in. We will see...I am working on it. I still have two months to work on it and we will see what happens."

Q: On Jaromir Jagr...

"It was very fun for me last year with all the players, especially [Jaromir Jagr]. He was practically my idol since I was a kid. To be around him all year long and to watch what he does before the games, after games and during practice was something priceless. It is good where he is at right now. He obviously helped me a lot and to be around him, I thank him for that and wish him the best of luck."

Q: Did you talk to Jaromir Jagr while this was going on? Did you try to get him to come back?

"I talked to him a few times back home. He was waiting for what was going on in July and everybody knew the Flyers were pursuing [Zach] Parise and [Ryan] Suter. He was just waiting and he decided to sign with Dallas. I was always saying what is best for him and he always makes the right decision. When he felt that is the way he can get better and he can enjoy it, I am happy for him.

Q: When the Flyers were offering big money to Parise were you wondering if he signed here what your place would be in the organization? Same thing with Weber. Were you wondering if this could force them to trade players and if players had to go to Nashville if you could be one of those guys? Were you following that all?

“You know I was reading some stuff on Twitter and some websites but like I said it's nothing that I can control and it wasn't in my hands. So if Parise, or Sutter, or Weber had signed in Philly we would have just kept on negotiating with Paul and see what happened but nothing happened like that so it's totally different right now and I'm happy to be a Flyer for the next four years.”

Q: Is there any pressure with signing this four-year deal?

“Any pressure? Well, no not at all. I think the season I had last year was pretty successful and I know if I work hard, which is what I've been doing all Summer, I can get better and better. Hopefully I'll have better numbers next year and we'll be a better overall team than we were last year.”

Q: Do you feel as if your game drastically improved when you joined the Flyers last year?

“Yeah, of course. The first 15 games I was getting used to the new style and the new system but since the beginning of November and December I began to get into my comfortable shoes and every game I was getting better and better. With the players that you have on the Flyers like Jaromir Jagr, Danny Briere, Kimmo Timonen, and really the whole team, I can say that I got better practicing with them and playing with them. I had a lot of fun last year and I'm very happy to be part of it again.”

Q: You were in Montreal for some of the offseason, right? Have you been back there again working out?

“Yeah I'm here right now. It helped me last year and hopefully it's going to help me again this year and I can't wait for the season to start.

Q: How disappointed were you that the Flyers were not able to land Shea Weber?

“Well, obviously he's a great defenseman in the NHL but you know you're going 50/50 on that when you make an offer sheet and that's exactly how the Flyers felt. Either or, it's going to work or if it doesn't we just move on and give it another try and that's exactly what happened. Obviously he would have been a big part of the team but life goes on, right?”

Eagles hire 6 coaching interns including Buckhalter, Lewis

PHILADELPHIA (The Phanatic Magazine) - G-Lew is back.

Don't worry though, he won't be returning punts this time.

The Eagles have hired Greg Lewis, along with five others, as part of the Bill Walsh Minority Coaching Fellowship.

Aslong with Lewis, former Eagles Correll Buckhalter, William Fuller, Corey Peoples and Montae Reagor were hired as well as Don Holmes.

Each will assist the Eagles staff throughout training camp and the preseason.

"The Bill Walsh Minority Coaching Fellowship is great for getting ex-NFL players and guys from college an opportunity to grow professionally and learn more about coaching,"  said Eagles wide receivers coach David Culley. Culley has been in charge of the hiring the coaching interns since he arrived in Philadelphia in 1999.

Lewis was originally signed by the Eagles in 2003 as an undrafted rookie and went on to play eight NFL seasons (six in Philadelphia), finishing his career with 152 receptions, 1,992 yards and eight touchdowns. He also recorded four receptions for 53 yards and a 30-yard touchdown reception in Super Bowl XXXIX.

Buckhalter joins the staff after playing in 103 games in his career with the Eagles and Denver Broncos. During his time with the Eagles, he racked up 3,085 scrimmage yards and 22 total touchdowns. His 4.53-yard rushing average ranks as the fourth-best ever by an Eagles running back.

Fuller returns to the Eagles as a coaching intern after spending three seasons of his 13-year NFL career in Philadelphia from 1994-96, during which time the defensive end collected 35.5 sacks and three Pro Bowl invitations. He also played for the Houston Oilers (1986-93) and San Diego Chargers (1997-98), finishing his career with 100.5 sacks.

Peoples spent training camp with the Eagles in 2005 after signing with the club as an undrafted free agent. He also played safety with the CFL’s Toronto Argonauts from 2007-2009.

Reagor played his final NFL season with the Eagles in 2007 after spending eight years with the Denver Broncos (1999-2002) and Indianapolis Colts (2003-06). The former defensive tackle accumulated 17 sacks in his 99-game career.

Holmes joins the Eagles as the only coaching intern this year that never spent time playing in Philadelphia. Holmes was a wide receiver in the NFL for five seasons with the Phoenix/St. Louis Cardinals after being drafted by the Atlanta Falcons in 1985. He posted 25 catches for 413 yards and one touchdown in his career.

The Walsh Fellowship is a program that all 32 NFL teams participate in each year. The program’s goal is to use each team’s training camp and preseason to give talented minority coaches opportunities to observe, participate, gain experience, and seek full-time employment as an NFL coach. Mike Caldwell and Duce Staley were the latest participants of the program to be added to the Eagles full-time coaching staff.

Sporting trio helps MLS All-Stars beat Chelsea

Check out my MLS All-Star coverage for the Kansas City Star: 

Sporting trio helps MLS All-Stars beat Chelsea - KansasCity.com

Flyers re-sign Voracek

After wading through the turbulent waters of free agency, the Flyers settled down and re-signed restricted free agent forward Jakub Voracek on Thursday.

"We are happy to have Jake under contract and look forward to him being a big part of our future," said Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren.

Voracek, acquired in the Jeff Carter deal from Columbus on June 23, 2011, totaled a career-high 18 goals to go with 49 points in 78 regular-season games last year. He added two goals and 10 points in 11 postseason appearances, including the OT winner in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals at Pittsburgh.

Multiple reports earlier in the day stated the deal is worth $17 million over four years, leaving a cap hit of $4.25 million for the duration.

The native of Kladno, Czech Republic (also the hometown of the departed Jaromir Jagr) looks to get a shot at playing on the top line now that his countryman and mentor has landed in Dallas.

“To be around him all year long and to watch what he does before the games, after games and during practice was something priceless,” Voracek said of Jagr's influence last season. “It is good where he is at right now. He obviously helped me a lot and to be around him, I thank him for that and wish him the best of luck."

The seventh-overall pick in the 2007 draft by the Columbus Blue Jackets has totaled 57 goals and 183 points in 319 games over four NHL seasons.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Julius Benedict meets Shea Weber and Predators benefit

by Bob Herpen
Phanatic Hockey Editor

One of the most unlikely cinematic pairings took place under the watch of Ivan Reitman in the Summer of 1988, as Danny DeVito and Arnold Schwarzenegger teamed up for the successful comedy-drama, "Twins."

The idea was that Schwarzenegger's character of Julius Benedict was the result of genetic experiments to produce the perfect offspring, while DeVito's Vincent Benedict was an unintentional side-effect -- hence the ironic title. The former bolts his island paradise where he was raised to enter the latter's Lion's Den of Los Angeles to find his long-lost sibling, and hilarity ensues.

One of the minor, but important plot points in the fish-out-of-water scenario, is that Julius blithely deals with the dangers of the real world by three key ideas, or rules of a crisis situation, confident his logic and his bulging physique will diffuse all trouble.

A crisis situation. That's certainly what the braintrust of the Nashville Predators encountered ever since Flyers GM Paul Holmgren issued his lightning bolt and signed restricted free agent defenseman Shea Weber to a $110 million, 14-year offer sheet last week.

Faced with the prospect of losing their top two blueliners in the wake of winning their first-ever playoff series in April (after Ryan Suter was lured away by a $98 million, 13-year deal with Minnesota), Preds GM David Poile and the consortium of owners stared down the barrel of a turning point for the franchise and didn't blink.

First rule: Don't move too soon. Negotiate first and attack last.

We know that Nashville put on the table a $21 million deal over three years during the course of last regular season that failed to impress Weber and his faction or spur any hint of contract negotiations.

So, it was pretty clear from the outset that the Predators weren't going to rush into anything, even after Suter's revealed collusion with Zach Parise to land somewhere together as an unrestricted free-agent package.

Weber, the team captain and biggest asset, made it clear he was going to explore all his options, and did so openly by visiting cities he was interested in, Philadelphia apparently being chief among them. All the while, Nashville played it cool, never giving in to any emotion (however rightful it may have been) on the prospect of their high-scoring game-changer departing with a big payday.

The organization was careful not to paint itself as satisfied with its situation sans Weber, lest it be interpreted as ready to cut ties.

While most of the hockey world assumed that Weber was gone, the implosion of the franchise was imminent and that the Predators organization was playing the bad guy for making us all wait so long, they made the smartest move of all. They made the most of their only bargaining chip in taking most of the mandated seven-day window to cast doubt on what was assumed to be a slam dunk.

Second rule: If you choose to bluff, you must be prepared to have your bluff called. 

Here's where Holmgren sneaks in. Already having submitted offers to both Parise and Suter that acted more like an agent provocateur than anything serious, he makes a stunning gambit and tells the rest of the NHL how intent he is by issuing that mega offer sheet last Thursday morning, under cover of darkness.

He did so only after attempts to work a trade with Poile failed, because, really, why should the Flyers have to ever give up players to get players, or give up in a deal what every other team would consider equal value? If they're not jobbing the system, they're not doing it right.

Technically, both clubs could have pulled off a Chris Gratton, where Nashville could deal the four first-round compensatory picks for players, so long as the offer sheet wasn't matched, and Philly could have signed Weber to their own independent deal. But with the memory of Gratton's year and a half here still lingering, no chance that chance was going to be taken again.

Still, that offer never really placed as much pressure as we thought on the Nashville organization. Philly never officially held Weber's rights when the offer sheet was signed; only a promise that he'd play there, at those contract terms, if the Predators failed to match.

We'll never really be able to guess if Holmgren and whoever else backed him in the effort felt that swinging their collective large-market manhood with that triple-digit-million offer was good enough to bring Nashville to its knees, but it sure seemed like the money and the years involved were intended as a scare tactic.

"It was structured where we were hopeful that they wouldn't match it. But, obviously they did," Holmgren admitted in a Wednesday conference call.

It obviously didn't work. The apparently un-matchable was matched.

Score one for the small market underdogs as of 3:15 PM yesterday, more than 32 hours before the seven-day match-or-lose deadline approached.

“We did not take or make this decision lightly, and we recognized the many ramifications it would have,” Preds owner Tom Cigarran said in an email to season ticket holders that was revealed by The Tennessean on Wednesday. “Retaining Shea sends a powerful message to our own players and potential players that Nashville is a team that is in the hunt to win and this is a desirable place to play! Other teams will now know the Predators will do everything possible to retain its own star players and cannot be viewed as a franchise that can be raided.”

Third rule: Duck!

While the impact of retaining Weber for so long and at such a cost isn't necessarily akin to being buried beneath five tons worth of rapidly-descending chains, things are going to be mighty interesting in roughly one more year.

Under rules of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, Weber cannot be traded for one year, so if he really seemed as disgruntled as he was while entertaining offers, then expect the unexpected until he's unloaded next Summer.

Can he realistically reach near career bests of 19 goals and 49 points as he did last season, plus perform the duties of the captaincy with another impending exit weighing on his mind?

“He’s good. He’s glad to be back,” Weber's agent Jarrett Bousquet said in the Nashville paper. “He’s really happy that ownership made the commitment to him. When I spoke to him, he was going to meet with (Predators Coach Barry Trotz) and he’s really looking forward to getting back to work.”

If what was stated above is the truth, then it wouldn't be a stretch for the Flyers organization to feel like the jilted mistress whose advances didn't result in consummation. Then, what used to be a "most favored trade partner" status between Holmgren and the former Washington Capitals general manager could go up in smoke.

It still might due to the Preds' audacity in successfully conning the con man. 

Still, Homer played it cool: "We tried to add, in our minds, one of the best defenseman in the game to a good, young, up-and-coming team, and it didn't work." He also admitted he liked the defense the way it is without the addition of Weber or the return of Chris Pronger.

So Shea and David, I tip my hat in your direction and await the intrigue surrounding the Flyers-Predators December 27 matchup at Bridgestone Arena. For now, enjoy it, because tonight is your night, bro.

Tune in next July when Weberpalooza Part II can be paired up with Arnold's 1990 opus, "Kindergarten Cop."

Hamels locked up long term

by Bob Herpen
Phanatic Magazine 

It's finally official: Cole Hamels will continue to be part of the Phillies rotation for many years to come.

Phils GM Ruben Amaro Jr. has confirmed the deal at $144 million over six years on Wednesday afternoon.

"We felt like it was the right thing to do under the circumstance with his performance, his age, his importance with our club," Amaro said at a press conference prior to the series finale with Milwaukee. "Our goal is to continue to be a championship-caliber team, for now and the future. As I've said before, I think we have a much better chance with Cole as a major part of our rotation than without him."

The pact aims to keep the Southern California native in Philadelphia through the 2018 season, with a vesting option for 2019.

"Just knowing that we're always going to go out and win, and that I'm the middle triangle of the Big Three, it's reassuring," Hamels said. "That's the positive mojo that we need and what I wanted to see. I know the organization has always done a good job of going out to win. We have great players here. You don't want to have to leave that or stray away and see them win and you're not part of it. I understand that free agency is great, those opportunities of the unknowing. But this is the place that I call home and want to call home for a really long time"

It is the second largest contract ever signed by a starting pitcher, behind the $161 million contract over seven years that CC Sabathia signed with the Yankees following the 2008 season.

Hamels, the 2008 NLCS and World Series MVP was set to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season, and the signing puts to rest any question of Amaro dealing the left-hander before next Tuesday's non-waiver trade deadline.

The 28-year-old has turned in a strong campaign despite Philadelphia's struggles, going 11-4 with a 3.23 earned run average in 19 starts thus far.

Since cracking the majors back in 2006, Hamels has racked up an 85-58 record with a 3.38 ERA, completing 10 games with four career shutouts in the regular season. In the playoffs, he has gone 7-4 with a 3.09 ERA in 13 appearances, all starts.

He was the 17th overall pick in the 2002 first-year player draft.

Phillies commit to Hamels

PHILADELPHIA (The Phanatic Magazine) - The Phillies and pitcher Cole Hamels have agreed to terms on a six-year contract.

Both FOXSport sand ESPN have reported the new pact to be worth about $140 million, making it the second-largestever  for a pitcher, behind only the $161 million contract for the Yankees' CC Sabathia.

Hamels has spent his entire seven-year career with the Phillies and this season owns a record of 11-4 with a 3.23 earned run average in 19 starts, earning his third All-Star Game selection. He is 85-58 with a 3.38 ERA in 200 career games, all but one as a starter.

The 28-year-old lefty was the NLCS and World Series MVP in 2008, then signed a three-year, $20.5 million contract to avoid arbitration the following January. He signed a one-year deal this past January and was set to become a free agent after this season.

Eagles sign veteran P Mat McBriar

PHILADELPHIA (The Phanatic Magazine) - The Eagles have agreed to terms with veteran punter Mat McBriar on a one-year contract.

The 33-year-old native of Australia earned two Pro Bowl selections during an eight-year career with the Dallas Cowboys from 2004-11.  He has punted 494 times for 22,369 yards for a 45.3 career average, which ranks fourth in NFL history. McBriar's career net average is 38.4 yards and he has downed 175 punts inside the opponents’ 20-yard line.

McBriar was originally signed as a rookie free agent by Denver in 2003 and was traded to Seattle later that year during the preseason. He eventually landed on the Cowboys practice squad on December 26, 2003. A former Australian rules football player, McBriar enrolled at the University of Hawaii, where he earned All-WAC honors as a senior with a 44.8-yard average.

McBriar earned All-Pro and Pro Bowl honors with the Cowboys following the 2006 and 2010 campaigns, becoming just the 2nd native of Australia to earn that distinction (Darren Bennett was the other). In 2006, his league-leading 48.2-yard average was the first 48+-yard average by an NFL punter since 1963. He also led the league in punting average (47.9) and net punting average (41.7) in 2010.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Preds match Flyers' offer sheet for Weber

Special to the Phanatic

Shea Weber will remain a member of the Predators, in theory, for the next 14 years after Nashville matched the $110 million offer sheet the defenseman signed with the Philadelphia Flyers last week.

The announcement came roughly 32 hours before the Wednesday night deadline for the club to match or walk away, bringing to an abrupt end a situation which has had both hockey markets and the NHL at large on the edge of their seats during the dog days of the offseason.

The Predators had a key decision to make after already losing unrestricted free agent defenseman Ryan Suter to Minnesota in a 13-year deal consummated on July 4.

Nashville apparently analyzed the overall situation and came up with three main questions it needed to answer in order to make the move, according to the piece on the club's site following the announcement:

- Was Weber the individual that this franchise wanted to lead our team, a team that would compete for the Stanley Cup every year, for the next 14 years?

- Would matching the offer sheet be in the best long-term interest of the team and organization?

- Would a decision not to match the offer sheet send a negative message to current Predators players and other NHL organizations, a message that the Predators would only go so far to protect its best players and be pushed around by teams with "deep pockets?"

The Predators answered "yes" to every question and rewarded Weber on Tuesday with the largest contract in franchise history. At 14 years, the contract is the third-longest in the history of the league.

Weber, Nashville's captain since 2010, has posted 99 goals and 164 assists over his first seven NHL seasons. The 26-year-old had 19 goals and 30 helpers in 78 contests this past season.

He was a second-round draft pick of the Predators in 2003.

"In tendering an offer sheet to Shea Weber, we were trying to add a top defenseman entering the prime of his career," Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren said in a statement. "With Nashville matching our offer, we wish Shea and the Predators all the best."

Sixers sign Harkless, Moultrie

Sixers rookie F Maurice Harkless
PHILADELPHIA (The Phanatic Magazine) - The 76ers have signed rookies Maurice Harkless and Arnett Moultrie. 

Harkless was the 15th overall pick in the 2012 NBA draft by Philadelphia while Moultrie was the 27th overall pick by Miami.  The Sixers acquired the rights to Moultrie from the HEAT in exchange for the draft rights to Justin Hamilton (45th overall pick) and a protected future first round pick.

Harkless (6-foot-8, 208) was an early entry candidate for the draft following his freshman season at St. John’s and turned 19 years old back in May.  He was named Big East Rookie of the Year after averaging 15.5 points, 8.6 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1.6 steals and 1.4 blocks while shooting 45.2 percent from the floor.  Harkless ranked sixth in the nation in scoring among freshman and second in rebounding.

The freshman started all 32 games for the Red Storm last season, scoring in double-figures 26 times, including seven games with 20-plus points.  Harkless had a career-high 32 points on 14-of-17 shooting vs. Providence and tallied 30 points and 13 rebounds at Duke.  Overall, he recorded 11 double-doubles.

Moultrie (6-foot-11, 249) was an early entry candidate for the draft following his junior season at Mississippi State.  He was named First Team All-SEC after averaging 16.4 points, 10.5 rebounds and 1.2 assists this past season while shooting 54.9 percent from the floor.  Moultrie led the conference in rebounding and ranked tied for 10th in the nation.

The 21-year-old averaged 3.7 offensive rebounds this past season, grabbing 6-plus seven times including a career-high 11 vs. Northwestern State.  Moultrie recorded 18 double-doubles in 30 games.

Union's Farfan added to MLS All-Star roster

PHILADELPHIA (The Phanatic Magazine) – Union midfielder Michael Farfan has been added to the MLS All-Star gameday roster by Coach Ben Olsen, the League announced today.

Farfan, a 2011 MLS Rookie of the Year finalist, has played in 17 games, starting 16 for the Union this season, registering a goal and four assists.

"It is a great honor to be named to the MLS All Star Team,” said Farfan.  “I am humbled by this decision and grateful to be listed amongst such talented players.  This is something I will never forget.”
Union All-Star Michael Farfan

The crafty San Diego, Calif., product helps orchestrate Philadelphia’s attack and last year he scored this goal against Real Madrid on July 23 during the 2011 Herbalife World Football Challenge. Before being drafted 23rd overall by Philadelphia in the 2011 SuperDraft, Farfan starred at the University of North Carolina and represented the United States Under-17 national team at the 2005 FIFA Youth World Cup. For more about Farfan, click here.

“I’m very happy and proud of Michael Farfan,” said Philadelphia Union Interim Team Manager and MLS All Star Assistant Coach John Hackworth.  “I think over the last couple of months he has been one of the best attacking players in the League and he certainly deserves this recognition and opportunity."

Given the weather conditions and scheduling considerations, MLS yesterday accepted Chelsea FC’s request to increase the number of substitutions permitted during the AT&T MLS All-Star Game on Wednesday (8:30 p.m. ESPN2, TeleFutura, TSN2) from seven per team to 10. This necessitated the addition of another player to the All-Star roster.

Monday, July 23, 2012

NCAA hits Penn State hard

(The Phanatic Magazine) - The NCAA ravaged Penn State with a $60 million sanction, a four-year football postseason ban as well as the vacating of every win dating back to 1998.

The NCAA revealed the sanctions as NCAA president Mark Emmert and Ed Ray, the chairman of the NCAA's executive committee and Oregon State's president, spoke at a news conference in Indianapolis.

"In the Penn State case, the results were perverse and unconscionable. No price the NCAA can levy will repair the damage inflicted by Jerry Sandusky on his victims," Emmert said, referring to the former Penn State defensive coordinator convicted of 45 counts of child sex abuse last month.

Penn State must reduce 10 initial and 20 total scholarships each year for a four-year period.

NCAA Sanctions Against Penn State

* $60 million fine
* Vacation of wins from 1998-2011 (112 wins)
* Four-year postseason ban
* Four-year scholarship reduction (10 initial; 20 total)
* Players may transfer and play immediately at other schools
* Athletic department on probation for five years
* Joe Paterno's record is now 298-136-3; fifth on FBS all-time win list

Soul finish regular season by routing Utah

PHILADELPHIA (The Phanatic Magazine)  – The Eastern Division Champion, Philadelphia Soul, led by another record-breaking performance from fullback Derrick Ross, ended the 2012 season with a 69-34 victory over the Utah Blaze in front of 12,765 fans at the Wells Fargo Center on Sunday night. 

The win gives the Soul the best record in the League for the 2012 season as they enter into the playoffs.

“We’re taking this one game at a time.  We will use the next couple of weeks to get healthy and prepare for our final game of the season,” said Soul head coach Doug Plank.  “Tonight’s win just adds to our momentum as the season comes to an end and playoffs begin.”

Ross registered 13 carries for 81 yards and two touchdowns.  He ends the 2012 season with 645 rushing yards, breaking the record of 622 rushing yards in a single season, which he set himself in 2011.

Soul QB Dan Raudabaugh finished the game by connecting on 10-of-15 passes for 112 yards, five touchdowns and zero interceptions. WR Larry Brackins finished with five receptions for 33 yards and four touchdowns.  Donovan Morgan added six receptions for 92 yards and two touchdowns and Jeff Hughley had four receptions for 48 yards and a touchdown.

Utah’s QB Tommy Grady connected 24-of-42 passes for 291 yards, five touchdowns and one interception.  WR Tysson Poots had 10 receptions for 95 yards and two touchdowns.  Aaron Lesue added six receptions for 85 yards and three touchdowns.

Scoring began when Grady completed a 10-yard touchdown pass to Lesue.  Minutes later, Raudabaugh completed a 36-yard touchdown pass to Morgan.  Utah scored again on a 13-yard reception by Poots.  Following his 42-yard run ending just short of the end zone, Ross rushed for one more yard and another Philadelphia touchdown.  Before the quarter came to an end, Grady completed another touchdown pass to Lesue for 12 yards to give the Blaze a 20-14 lead.

Two touchdowns were scored in the second quarter, both by Brackins.  The first was an eight-yard reception and the second was a two-yard reception.  The first half came to an end with the Soul leading 27-20.

Morgan was the first to score in the third with a four-yard touchdown reception.  Ross rushed one-yard for a touchdown and Lesue scored again on an eight-yard pass from Grady.  The third quarter came to an end with the Soul leading 41-27.

The fourth quarter began with Philadelphia’s Remy Hamilton’s 52-yard kick off that bounced off the net and was recovered in the end zone by Philadelphia’s FB/LB Melik Brown.  Utah scored once in the fourth on an 11-yard reception by Poots.  Add a touchdown by Hughley and two more by Brackins and the Soul ended the game and the 2012 season with the Soul leading 69-34.

Eagles trade for DT Ogbu

PHILADELPHIA (The Phanatic Magazine) - The Eagles have acquired DT Ollie Ogbu from the Indianapolis Colts in exchange for CB D.J. Johnson, and also signed free agents, WR Anthony “Tiger” Jones, a former member of the Philadelphia Soul, and CB Kee-ayre Griffin, a Temple product.

Originally signed as an undrafted free agent by Indianapolis in 2011, Ogbu (6-foot1, 305) spent 2011 on the Colts practice squad. The 25-year-old was a three-year starter at defensive tackle for Penn State, where he logged 113 tackles, 29 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks as senior in 2010. He earned second team All-Big 10 honors as a junior in 2009, registering 48 tackles (17 solo), 8.5 tackles for loss, a half-sack and one pass defensed. The Staten Island, N.Y. native was recognized as a PrepStar Magazine All-American while at Milford Academy.

Jones (5-11, 195) had spent the last four years in the Arena Football League with the Philadelphia Soul (2012), Dallas Vigilantes (2011), Milwaukee Iron (2010) and Georgia Force (2008). The 30-year-old recorded 524 catches, 7,259 receiving yards and 160 touchdowns over 62 career games in the AFL. In 2012, Jones was named the AFL Wide Receiver of the Year after leading the Soul in all receiving categories, totaling 2,010 yards on 133 receptions and a career-high 47 touchdowns. Jones was signed as a rookie free agent by Washington Redskins in 2005, but was released prior to training camp. The Mobile, AL native played collegiately at Louisville, tallying 26 catches for 326 yards and four touchdowns over 51 career games. An offensive and defensive standout at St. Paul’s Episcopal School, Jones was a first-team all-Southern Region selection at defensive back and an honorable mention all-state selection on offense in his senior season.

Offered a tryout at the Eagles rookie mini-camp this year, Griffin (5-10, 182 - pronounced Key-air Griffin) was a two-year starter at cornerback for Temple where he collected 49 tackles, a team-best three interceptions, and blocked two kicks his senior season in 2011. A native of East Orange, N.J., Griffin started his collegiate career as a running back for the Owls, but was switched to a defensive back during the middle of his sophomore season in 2009. The 24-year-old earned first-team All-State, first-team All-Non Public and first-team All-Hudson recognition by the Star-Ledger as a running back while at St. Peter’s Prep (Jersey City, N.J.).

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Union stopped by Red Bulls

HARRISON, N.J. (The Phanatic Magazine) – The New York Red Bulls stopped Philadelphia's franchise three-game winning streak on Saturday behind a pair of goals from Kenny Cooper.

Both teams began the match with simple passes intercepted on both sides. The Red Bulls, however, looked the more dangerous side and they had an early chance from Cooper thwarted by Zac MacMath before Sebastien Le Toux skied the rebound over the cross bar.

The Union had an opportunity to take the lead late in the first half with few real chances, but Gaudette denied Josue Martinez in the 40th minute after the Union attacker raced by Jonathan Borrajo, who replaced an injured Brandon Barklage in the 16th minute.

Cooper then broke the deadlock with a goal fed off a pass from Connor Lade with a pass down the left.
It was déjà vu for the Union not long after halftime. Lade and Thierry Henry combined on the left flank before the Frenchman whipped in a ball that Cooper finished with his head, doubling the lead inside of a rocking Red Bull Arena.

Philadelphia head coach John Hackworth made a trio of substitutions as the visitors searched for an injection of life. But they never found it and New York walked away with their second victory in four days, following 1-0 win over Chicago last Wednesday.

The Union return to play home at PPL Park next Sunday, July 29 vs New England Revolution at PPL Park on July 29 in a nationally televised game on NBC Sports.  The game will also be aired in the team’s second radio broadcast on 610WIPam.

 PPL Park will also play host to the AT&T 2012 MLS All Star Game Wednesday, July 25.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Union live broadcasts set to begin on WIP Saturday

Chester, Pa. (The Phanatic Magazine) – Philadelphia Union’s inaugural radio game broadcast kicks off on SportsRadio 610 WIP Saturday when the club visits Eastern Conference rival New York Red Bulls at 2:30 p.m. ET. 

Hosted by MLS veteran radio and television announcer Tony Limarzi and former Philadelphia KiXX goalkeeper Peter Pappas, the club will broadcast select matches both home and away through the end of the season.

Formerly the radio play-by-play announcer for D.C. United, Limarzi also works with Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic hosting “D.C. United Central” and “D.C. United Postgame Live” and is also the play-by-play announcer for the University of Maryland Men’s Soccer team.   Additionally he works with the NBA’s Washington Wizards as a studio host for Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic.

A 13 year veteran goalkeeper for the KiXX, Pappas played in 416 regular season matches and logged 23,606 minutes in goal. He also recorded 5,399 saves and 230 wins, while logging over an additional 2000 minutes and 450 saves in the postseason. The Philadelphia University graduate was named the MISL Goalkeeper of the Year on four occasions (2001, 2004, 2005, 2007) and was an All-League selection eight times.

A full broadcast schedule is listed below but is subject to change.

Date                            Opponent                               Game Time                Location

July 21                         New York Red Bulls              2:30pm                        Red Bull Arena

July 29                         New England Revolution       7:00pm                        PPL Park

Aug 12                         Chicago Fire                           7:00pm                        PPL Park

Aug 19                         D.C. United                            5:00pm                       RFK Stadium

Aug 24                         Real Salt Lake                        7:30pm                        PPL Park


Aug 29                         Columbus Crew                      8:00pm                        PPL Park

Sept 20                        D.C. United                             8:00pm                        PPL Park

Sept 23                        Houston Dynamo                    4:00pm                        PPL Park

Oct 6                           New England Revolution        7:00pm                        PPL Park

Oct 20                         Houston Dynamo                    7:30pm                       BBVA Compass Stadium

Oct 27                         New York Red Bulls              1:30pm                        PPL Park