Friday, May 31, 2013

Union's McInerney once again voted best player in MLS

For the second straight time, Jack McInerney was voted the MLS Player of the Month.

McInerney narrowly won the award for May, edging out Portland Timbers goalie Donovan Ricketts by one vote (6-5). 

The Union forward scored three times in five May games to raise his season total to nine, and he is currently tied with Montreal striker Marco Di Vaio for the league lead in goals.

The 20-year-old netted the lone goal in the Union's 1-0 road win over Chicago on May 1, and provided the lone score seven days later in a 1-0 home victory over the Fire. McInerney then closed out the month with another goal in a 5-3 defeat to the Impact.

Di Vaio and Red Bulls midfielder Tim Cahill each earned three votes.

2013 MLS PLAYER OF THE MONTH
May: Jack McInerney (Philadelphia Union)
April: Jack McInerney (Philadelphia Union)
March: Mike Magee (LA Galaxy)

Phillies release Durbin, recall Savery

The Phillies have taken a bold step to refashion their bullpen, releasing Chad Durbin on Friday afternoon.

Joe Savery will be recalled from Triple-A Lehigh Valley to fill the roster spot.

The 35-year-old Durbin managed to pick up a win in relief on Tuesday in Boston, but departs the organization with a 9.00 ERA in 16 innings over 16 appearances this season. He went 11-7 over three previous years (2008-10) with the Phils.

Savery did not record a decision in his lone 2013 big-league appearance, a one-inning stint during a 5-0 loss to the Cardinals on April 20.

Flyers make signings of Lamarche, Raffl official

The Philadelphia Flyers on Friday afternoon officially lifted the veil on their two newest signees, revealing that defenseman Maxim Lamarche and forward Michael Raffl have each signed three-year, entry-level contracts.

For Raffl, the 24-year-old Austrian winger, the Orange and Black won out over several suitors including the Nashville Predators.

“Both (Director of Player Personnel) Dave Brown and myself as well as (European Scout) Ilkka (Sinisalo) saw him at the World Championships and he’s a good player,” said Director of Hockey Operations Chris Pryor. “You noticed him over there. He’s got skill. He thinks the game. He’s a versatile guy and can do a lot of different things. “He’s a good player, who we think can be NHL ready. There’s going to be a learning curve, but he’s got enough in his game to be able to make that adjustment rather quickly.”

Raffl struck for 24 goals and 46 points in 49 games this past season for Leksands in the Swedish Elite League, his second season there after six with his native country skating for VSV EC.

Lamarche, 20, an "overage junior" from the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, finished 2012-13 by posting nine goals and 43 points in 55 contests along with a career-best plus-31 with the Baie-Comeau Drakkar. He added three goals and eight assists in 19 postseason games as the Drakkar made it to the league finals before being demolished by Halifax.

Over four seasons in the "Q" with Victoriaville and Baie-Comeau, the native of suburban Montreal racked up 23 goals and 90 assists over 252 appearances.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Temple's Brown signs deal with Bucs

PHILADELPHIA - An expired passport had given former Temple running back Matt Brown a second chance at his NFL dream.

The diminutive Brown was poised to sign a contract with the Canadian Football League's Saskatchewan Roughriders last week but the deal was held up due to the paperwork snafu.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers came calling this week and the 5-foot-5 Baltimore native inked a deal to go to Central Florida.

Brown is the fifth Temple Owl to sign with an NFL team this spring. He joins DB Maurice Jones (Chicago Bears), PK/P Brandon McManus (Indianapolis Colts), OL Martin Wallace (Cleveland Browns), and DE John Youboty (Denver Broncos). RB Montel Harris (Hamilton Tiger-Cats) also signed with the CFL.

Brown was named the 2012 BIG EAST Special Teams Player of the Year and a first-team All-BIG EAST honoree, finishing his collegiate career ranked No. 2 at Temple in all-purpose yardage (5,272), No. 3 in rushing touchdowns (22), and No. 4 in 100-yard rushing performances (10). 

In 2012, Brown set the season record for punt return average (14.2) and at No. 12/10 Louisville he set the school record for kickoff return yards (227). Brown finished third in rushing with 372 yards and four touchdowns on 60 carries. He led the Owls with 241 yards on 17 punt returns and 790 yards and a touchdown on 31 kickoff returns.

Despite missing two games due to injury, Brown finished as the BIG EAST leader in all-purpose yards, averaging 143.4 yards per game.

American Athletic Conference unveils logo

PROVIDENCE – The American Athletic Conference unveiled its new logo and marks today, giving the reinvented conference a new visual identity. The creation of the logo and marks is a part of the ongoing branding of The American, formerly known as the Big East. The new logo features a simple, athletic letter A in red, white and blue, which each institution can customize with its own colors.
 
 “As with the creation of our name, we worked directly with our institutions, sports marketing experts, media partners and design agencies to create and evaluate a variety of logo options,” said Commissioner Mike Aresco. “We took our preferred marks to each institution within our conference for an open forum with school presidents, athletic directors and student athletes to get their input. The elegant, athletic and classic letter A with the unique star inside and AMERICAN underneath was unanimously chosen by every institution. We believe this bold mark and our series of ancillary marks will support our conference name and the values that our name represents. In addition, our partners at ESPN and CBS agree that its strength, simplicity and elegance will resonate well on TV,” concluded Aresco.
 
The process of creating and choosing a new logo is an important step in the rebranding process for the American Athletic Conference.  From the unparalleled realignment of two athletic conferences, to securing multi-platform broadcast exposure with ESPN and CBS, to developing a new name, logo and overall identity, The American has undergone a unique, first-of-its-kind rebranding experience within college athletics.
 
 The American Athletic Conference will assume its new name on July 1, when it will also launch the full version of its website at www.TheAmerican.org. Until then, TheAmerican.org will feature basic information on the Conference and its member schools.

Beginning with the 2014-15 academic year, The American will consist of the University of Central Florida, the University of Cincinnati, the University of Connecticut, East Carolina University, the University of Houston, the University of Memphis, Southern Methodist University, the University of South Florida, Temple University, Tulane University and the University of Tulsa. The U.S. Naval Academy will become a football-only member in 2015.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Former Temple RB Harris finds a home North of the Border

Montel Harris, Temple's primary running back last season, will begin his professional career in Canada.

On Wednesday, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats inked Harris along with six other players from North America. It follows on the heels of an unsuccessful tryout with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Harris completed his collegiate career by finishing first in the Big East with 1,054 yards -- including five games of 100-or-more -- and 12 rushing touchdowns on 186 carries, adding 10 receptions for 90 yards over 11 contests for Steve Addazio's Owls.

His most impressive feat was strafing the Army defense for career highs of 351 yards and seven touchdowns in a 63-32 win at the Linc on November 17.

The former Boston College back finished with 4,789 yards rushing and 39 scores, having accomplished most of that over his first four seasons in Chestnut Hill.  

Despite playing just three seasons with the Eagles, he remains the school’s leader in rushing yards (3,735) and 100-yard games (22). 

Extra Points: Racially insensitive 'Redskins' are anything but - Football - The Olympian - Olympia, Washington news, weather and sports

Extra Points: Racially insensitive 'Redskins' are anything but - Football - The Olympian - Olympia, Washington news, weather and sports

Union advance in US Open Cup

Chester, Pa. – The Philadelphia Union have advanced to the fourth round of the 2013 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup after defeating the Ocean City Nor’easters, 2-1 Tuesday night at PPL Park behind a stoppage time goal from Brian Carroll. The club will now face D.C. United at the Maryland SoccerPlex June 12 in a 7 p.m. matchup.

Carroll’s goal arrived just minutes after Nor’easters forward Emmanuel Kollie evened the match at 1-1, finishing off a scramble in the box and squeezing the ball inside near post. The goal nullified a score in the 49th minute from Jack McInerney, who calmly placed a ball past Nor’easters goalkeeper Brian Billings off a ball across the box from Le Toux.

“I am just happy to be advancing,” Carroll said postgame. “This is a tournament I would really like to win one day and hopefully we are able to do it this year with this group.”

The Union will now face D.C. United for the third straight year in U.S. Open Cup play, who took the USL’s Richmond Kickers into extra time Tuesday, eventually winning on penalty kicks.

It was Carroll who fueled an extra time thriller against D.C. United three years ago in Boyds, when he scored in extra time. Carroll, who has five goals in all competitions for the Union has scored three in Open Cup play – two against D.C. United.

“When you play against a team like that it’s kind of like their World Cup game, so you know they are going to come out strong,” Jack McInerney said. “They are going to throw everything at you and try to do everything possible to defeat you. For us, it’s a game where we try to come out and try something different. But [Ocean City] battled and it took a while to break them down, but it finally came.”

Playing the majority of his starters, Union manager John Hackworth found a crew eager to get on the score sheet (18 shots, seven on goal), but was unable to capitalize in the first half. However, the Union attack never wavered after Kollie’s goal and a furious attack spearheaded on numerous occasions down the right flank by second half sub Danny Cruz proved too much for Ocean City to contain.

“We obviously have [winning this tournament] one of the goals we set out for this club,” said Hackworth. “You can tell that by the lineup we put out tonight that there was no thought that this was going to be an easy game for us, so our focus is trying to win one of the few trophies you can win in U.S. Soccer…[now we head to D.C.] and anyone that’s been down to [Boyds, Md.] will tell you that is a tough place to play the past couple years. It’s always a battle.”

That game is June 12, but in the immediate, the Union will take another trip North to Canada to take on Toronto FC in MLS play on Saturday (6 p.m., The Comcast Network).

“Hopefully we can learn some things from tonight’s game and move past the couple tough performances that we’ve had,” said Carroll. “Road games are never easy and Toronto is a much different club now than they were when we played them the first time, so we are going to have to bring our ‘A’ game.”

BOX SCORE

Philadelphia Union 2, Ocean City Nor’easters 1

Saturday, May 28; 7:30 p.m. ET

PPL Park, Chester, PA



SCORING SUMMARY

PHI: McInerney 49’ (Le Toux)

OCY: Kollie 91’+

PHI: Carroll 92’+ (Le Toux)



DISCIPLINARY SUMMARY

None



UNION STARTING 11

MacMath, Williams, Okugo, Parke, Gaddis, Carroll, Daniel, Fernandes (Farfan 89’), Casey (Cruz 65’), Le Toux, McInerney (Hoppenot 81’)



NOR’EASTERS STARTING 11

Billings, Curran, Hillard, Machinguata, McLaws, Mulgrew (Kollie 24’), Perea, Tribbett, Asante (Dennis 68’), Lacroix, Tweneboa (Correra 86’)

Soul's Raudabaugh wins Offensive Player of the Week honors

PHILADELPHIA – Philadelphia Soul quarterback, Dan Raudabaugh, was awarded the Russell Offensive Player of the Week award following a dominating performance in Week 10’s win against the Tampa Bay Storm.

Soul WR Ryan McDaniel was also awarded the Cutters Catch of the Week after a one-handed touchdown catch in the fourth quarter.

Raudabaugh threw with precision, as he connected on 20 of 23 passes for 297 yards and seven touchdowns.  Raudabaugh threw no interceptions in his guidance of the Soul’s 312 yards of total offense.

“I’m happy to receive this award,” explained Soul quarterback Dan Raudabaugh.  “But it was a team effort for me to be able to get this.  The linemen did their blocking, the receivers made their catches, Ross punched it in on the goal line and everyone did what they needed to do.  This award reflects the efforts of us as a team and I really have to say thank you to my teammates for putting me into this position.”

McDaniel caught the one-handed grab at the 9:24 mark of the fourth quarter to put the Soul up 19 points.  McDaniel has caught a team-high nine touchdowns over the course of the past four weeks.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Brown takes home top weekly honors in National League

New York, NY -- Major League Baseball announced on Tuesday that Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Domonic Brown has been selected as the National League's Player of the Week for the period ending May 26.

Brown, who won his first career weekly award, hit .348 (8-for-23) with two homers, two doubles, a triple seven RBI and four runs scored.He also racked up a league-best .783 slugging percentage and ranked second in the NL with 18 total bases.

The 25-year-old Brown leads Philadelphia with 10 homers and 29 RBI, including a streak of five consecutive games with at least one run driven in, tying a season high along with Ryan Howard (April 24-28).


He is the first Phillies player selected since Cole Hamels won the weekly honor from August 13-19 last season, and the first position player since outfielder Raul Ibanez won it from July 4-10, 2011.

Others considered for the award were San Diego's Everth Cabrera, Atlanta's Evan Gattis, Arizona's Patrick Corbin and Cincinnati's Joey Votto.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Kraft Named deputy AD at Temple

PHILADELPHIA - Dr. Pat Kraft, who served on the senior athletic staffs at Indiana University and Loyola University Chicago, has been named Deputy Director of Athletics at Temple University.

“Pat Kraft brings a wealth of knowledge in athletics administration to Temple University,” said Interim Director of Athletics Kevin Clark.  “I witnessed firsthand his efforts in branding and marketing Indiana Athletics as we served together on IU’s athletics senior staff.  His business acumen and his ability to engage fan bases will be critical as Temple is poised to enter a new era in its athletics program in 2013-14 with the move to the American Athletic Conference.”

Kraft spent the past two years as the Executive Senior Associate Athletics Director at Loyola University Chicago.  At Loyola, he had direct oversight of all aspects of the department’s external operations, including the marketing, ticketing, media relations and fundraising components.

In his two years at the school he was able to grow the men’s basketball season ticket base by 30 percent with an overall increase of 51 percent in ticket revenue.  Additionally he generated an increase of 400 percent in cash sponsorship to the department while also growing the department’s annual giving by 75 percent.

Not limited to just external operations at Loyola, Kraft was responsible for overseeing the day-to-day management of the department’s $12+ million budget.  He also served as the sport supervisor for men’s and women’s basketball and was responsible for handling all of the department’s business contracts.

At Indiana, Kraft was responsible for the branding and marketing efforts for all of the Hoosiers' programs. He oversaw game production for all of IU's varsity sports and coordinated group, season and single-game ticket sales for football, men's basketball, men's soccer, women's basketball and women's volleyball. In addition, Kraft managed the promotion, marketing, brand enhancement and enforcement of the school's Adidas contract and the Big Ten Network partnership as well as the Learfield Sport Properties multi-media rights agreement with the Hoosiers.

His efforts at Indiana helped increase home football attendance to its highest mark in 17 years, with it also being the third largest football attendance increase among all Division I schools.  He also instituted a strategy that saw a 20 percent increase in student ticket sales and the overall highest season ticket base in 13 years.

The Libertyville, Ill. native began his career in 2001 as the corporate sponsorship and promotions coordinator with the Chicago Rush of the Arena Football League.  He then spent three years as the business development director with United States Synchronized Swimming (2001-04).  He then served four years in higher education, the first three at Indiana (2005-08) as an associate instructor for sports marketing and management and the last as a clinical professor in the school of business administration at Loyola Chicago (2008-09).

 Kraft, who played football as an undergraduate at Indiana, has three degrees from the University. He earned a bachelor’s degree in sports marketing/management (2000), a master’s degree in sports marketing/administration (2005) and a doctorate in sports marketing (2008). 

“I want to thank President Neil Theobald and Interim Athletic Director Kevin Clark for this wonderful opportunity,” said Kraft.  “My wife Betsy and I are thrilled to be joining the Temple Owls family. It is an honor to be part of such a proud and storied program, and I am excited to play a role in the next great chapter of Temple athletics.”

Union trade D Soumare to Chicago

Chester, Pa. – The Philadelphia Union traded defender Bakary Soumare to the Chicago Fire on hursday in exchange for allocation money and a 2014 MLS SuperDraft natural second-round pick.

“We are thankful for Bakary’s contributions to the Union and wish him the best of luck as he continues his career,” said team manager John Hackworth.


Soumare, a former MLS Defender of the Year candidate with international experience in France and Germany, originally signed with the Union in June of 2012 but was beaten out for a starting spot by Amobi Okugo this season after missing most of the prior year with a knee injury.

Soumare appeared in four matches for the Union in 2013 and played extensively after Jeff Parke went down with a hamstring injury but the high-priced Malian defender has wanted out for quite some time.


Hackworth told MLSSoccer.com that the “biggest part” of the deal was salary cap relief.

“We have cap space and roster spots where we can go out and try to find a player to dial in those things,” Hackworth told the website. “We’re good right now. But for coaches and organizations in MLS, this summer transfer window internationally and even on the domestic front is a big time to make a move. So I think we’re at least positioned if the right player in that situation comes along, we’ll be able to make a move.”





Thursday, May 23, 2013

Temple's Brown signs with CFL's Roughriders

PHILADELPHIA – Former Temple running back Matt Brown has signed a contract with the Canadian Football League’s Saskatchewan Roughriders.

The diminutive Brown is the sixth Owl to sign with a professional team this spring. He joins RB Montel Harris (Tampa Bay Buccaneers), DB Maurice Jones (Chicago Bears), PK/P Brandon McManus (Indianapolis Colts), OL Martin Wallace (Cleveland Browns), and DE John Youboty (Denver Broncos).

Named the 2012 BIG EAST Special Teams Player of the Year and a first-team All-BIG EAST honoree, Brown played in 10 games with three starts at tailback while handling all return duties as a senior last fall.  He finished his collegiate career ranked No. 2 at Temple in all-purpose yardage (5,272), No. 3 in rushing touchdowns (22), and No. 4 in 100-yard rushing performances (10).  In 2012, Brown set the season record for punt return average (14.2) and at No. 12/10 Louisville he set the school record for kickoff return yards (227). Brown finished third in rushing with 372 yards and four touchdowns on 60 carries. He led the Owls with 241 yards on 17 punt returns and 790 yards and a touchdown on 31 kickoff returns. Despite missing two games due to injury, Brown finished as the BIG EAST leader in all-purpose yards, averaging 143.4 yards per game.

Brown became the fifth active Owl to appear on a CFL roster:  RB Tim Brown (B.C. Lions), QB Henry Burris (Hamilton Tiger-Cats), LB Dominique Harris (Hamilton Tiger-Cats), and DL Elisha Joseph (Calgary Stampeders).

Eagles' Casey has knee surgery

PHILADELPHIA – Eagles tight end James Casey will not participate in the remainder of offseason OTAs after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery earlier this week.

Casey underwent the procedure to correct loose cartilage in his right knee and confirmed it on his Twitter account Thursday.

"I had a minor scope done on my right knee," Casey Tweeted. "I'll be back to full speed in two weeks. Better to get it taken care of now."

Casey signed with the team in the off-season as a free agent after spending the previous three seasons with the Houston Texans.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Voracek lucky to be alive following car accident in Czech Republic

Just what is it with the Flyers organization and the automobile?

For the second time in the last three offseasons, a member of the club has been involved in a serious car accident.

This time, it was Jakub Voracek, whose Ferrari was totaled this morning in a one-car crash in the Czech Republic. The picture above depicts the damage after Voracek's car struck the back of a truck.

“I spoke with Jake this morning. He was involved in a car accident in the Czech Republic. Although his car did suffer damage, there were no injuries. Jake is fine," said Flyers GM Paul Holmgren in a brief statement issued minutes ago.

The Courier Post later reported that the 23-year-old drew a fine for speeding.

Voracek's agent, Petr Svoboda told CSN Philly: "He got lucky. It's a learning experience ... Not a scratch on him." In the same story, the damage was estimated to be $150,000, or more than three million crowns.

Back in 2010, Danny Briere was involved in a late-night incident with a tractor trailer just outside of Binghamton, NY as he drove his children back to his home province of Quebec.

And of course, in November of 1985, Pelle Lindbergh suffered life-ending injuries when his Porsche struck a retaining wall outside a school in Somerdale, NJ.

Unlike Lindbergh's accident, there was no trace of alcohol involved in Voracek's incident.

In addition, back in the Spring of 1977, Rick MacLeish and Bob Dailey were involved in a single-vehicle accident when a van MacLeish was driving on a rain-slicked South Jersey road hydroplaned and flipped over onto its side.  MacLeish suffered a compression fracture in one of his vertebrae.

Voracek's brush with mortality with the pedal to the metal brings to mind something unrelated to Flyers lore, the unfortunate September, 2003 accident in a Northern section of Atlanta which saw Thrashers forward Dan Snyder killed in a one-car crash.

Snyder was a passenger in a sports car driven by teammate Dany Heatley, who was speeding on a section of road notorious for its curves. Heatley lost control of the vehicle -- also a Ferrari -- which skidded into a pillar and split in two with both men ejected. Snyder slipped into a coma and died six days later.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Neglected Flyers HOF needs to move forward with Beast, Legion

by Bob Herpen
Phanatic Hockey Editor 

The cupboard is looking very bare these days inside the Flyers Hall of Fame.

Sure, it's already stocked with 20 of the franchise's greatest players, coaches, managers and builders, but with 46 years of history behind the franchise and room enough for some 30 selections at this point, it's way past time the organization should be looking to fete some of the best from the last 20 years of stellar, record-setting hockey.

The upcoming season is the perfect time for the Flyers to recommence the pageantry, since the front office will be trying to quickly erase the memory of the second season in the last 18 without playoff hockey;  give 'em a little more of the Bread and Circuses we've come to expect when doing the Time Warp again.

They can start by giving long-overdue recognition to the Legion of Doom.

Question: Without looking, can you tell me who was the last Flyer to be inducted and when?

Answer: Dave Schultz, back in November of 2009.

Admission: I had to look it up, both the player and the date. That alone should tell you the gap in honors is inexcusable.

Schultz's impact on the Orange and Black is everlasting, though he last donned the sweater in the Spring of 1976.

The last player honored before him, Ron Hextall (February of 2008), did end his career as late as 1999, but it began in 1986 and his glory years as the pulse and heartbeat and living embodiment of the Bullies ethic was dried up by his third NHL season, which came before the dawn of the 90s.

Before we delve into the decade which made the decadence of the 80s obsolete, the organization should first correct a grievous oversight, and that is to get Brad McCrimmon enshrined alongside Flyers HOF member and now NHL Hall of Famer Mark Howe. 

Although Bob Clarke still may hold a grudge against "Beast," a player he once thought "was a big boozer who I didn't think cared," and whom he clashed on contract negotiations back in 1986 which eventually led to his departure a year later, Clarke is no longer in charge.

Howe himself made it a point on multiple platforms in March of 2012 that McCrimmon should be recognized for his talents and contributions here in Philadelphia, where both men formed the best defensive tandem the club has ever seen. From 1984 through 1987, No. 2 and No. 10 combined for 335 points, a staggering plus-370 rating, one Jennings Trophy and two Stanley Cup Finals appearances.

For those old enough and lucky enough to remember, one cannot be seen without the other, and that should be the case on the next banner raised to the rafters. It should be done in the first half of next season.

Now to the thorny question of the Legion.

Both Eric Lindros and John LeClair returned to the Philadelphia hockey world around the holidays in 2011, in the lead-up to the Winter Classic against the Rangers. They put together a nice fundraiser at Morton's in Center City for Childrens' Hospital about a week before Christmas, and several prominent names in the Flyers organization attended. What didn't escape notice, was that there was a an even split: Paul Holmgren and Peter Luukko made their presence known, while neither Ed Snider nor Clarke attended.

Despite what was parroted through mainstream media, there was no "reconciliation" between Lindros and Clarke prior to the Alumni Game on New Year's Eve at Citizens Bank Park, only a few words exchanged and a handshake, all for the cameras. The fissure remains. Clarke is not one to give up old grudges, though the fire with which they are stoked is on simmer rather than bake.

But again, Clarke is not in charge. Though Snider is, it's high time he let Holmgren take the reins on this one and start the reconciliation. We know the fans want it. Who are the Flyers not to give the fans what they want?

Excepting Hextall's second foray with the team from 1995-99, only Howe and Tim Kerr lasted longer than 1990 here. The mega-blockbuster Lindros deal will be old enough to legally drink in this country come the end of June. If there's any lingering distaste for Lindros in the upper echelons, so what? No reason to cause controversy by singling him out for induction.

We know the full Legion reunion came up one-third short two years ago because of Mikael Renberg's professional duties, but to do it right is to enshrine all three at once. Though Lindros himself played a huge part in reversing the club's fortunes upon his 1992 arrival, it wasn't until all three tore through the NHL starting in February of 1995 that the Flyers enjoyed their Third Renaissance, which included a surprise playoff run in '95 and a Stanley Cup appearance two years later. 

That's the way it was done for the first six editions of the HOF ceremonies, at least two persons inducted per year from March of 1988 through April of 1993. Since then, just seven at highly-irregular intervals. There's even precedent for a trifecta: Snider, Bill Barber and Keith Allen all were inducted in March of '89.

There's no question it would be a guaranteed sellout, a full-capacity sellout and not one of those jerry-rigged "total butts in seats being 2,000 less than tickets sold" sellouts. But there is a question over who grants the right for these ceremonies to go forward and who gets final say over which player is enshrined next.

For Snider and Clarke, adding LeClair and Renberg to the honors list -- two players who didn't manager to raise hackles on either power-broker's neck while playing here -- should mollify any misgivings, but who really knows? Stubborn pride has had more than a hand in certain front-office decisions at times regarding the trio. The leash should be off Holmgren and Luukko's necks by now to officially extend olive branches.

Looking further down the line, how about Mark (Dr.) Recchi? He spent two memorable stints here from 1992-95 and from 1999-2004.

Tasked with bringing more offense to a languishing team in February of '92 after winning a Cup with the Penguins, Recchi did more than that -- eventually breaking Clarke's single-season points record with 123 in 1992-93. He's the only other player besides Clarke to post back-to-back 100-point seasons, ranks eighth all-time in points, 11th in goals and fourth in assists.

Before Lindros, Recchi (along with the deserving Rod Brind'Amour) were to be the cornerstones of the post-Clarke 90s Flyers. He made his mark in two eras, racking up 39 playoff points in his second stint here after missing out in his first go-round.

No matter what happens, pressure from the fan base is the only way things will be resolved to satisfaction. That voice should include the demands of dozens, if not hundreds, of full season ticket holders who fondly recall what is rapidly becoming a forgotten decade.

If not, the Mighty Meltzer might get his way and we'll have Jimmy Watson Night on tap. Love ya, Bill! We hope he's worthy of honor eventually, but not before these giants have their time.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Eagles OTA report: Can versatility save Harbor?

PHILADELPHIA -Nat King Cole first sang about those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer back in the 1960s, but America has always been enamored with beach season.

Whether they're loading the kids into the minivan for a trip down the Jersey shore, fishing in the Florida Keys or driving down the Pacific Coast Highway with the top down, people all across the country see the summertime as a chance to recharge the batteries.

Football is generally off people's radar as the summer months approach. Baseball is just heating up, the Indy 500 and Coca-Cola 600 are Memorial Day traditions and the NBA Finals own June.

Behind the scenes, however, America's real passion -- professional football -- is still churning along, engrossed in preparation for the 2013 NFL season.

And dozens of veteran players don't have the time to enjoy a lazy day here and there. It's rise and grind every single day for the bubble player.

I caught up with one them at Eagles OTAs on Monday in South Philadelphia.

To most, the writing is on the wall and the die is cast for Eagles tight end Clay Harbor, a serviceable if nondescript backup to Brent Celek since arriving in the City of Brotherly Love as a fourth-round draft pick out of Missouri State in 2010.

Harbor was never the type of player Andy Reid was going to build around and he has spent nearly every summer fighting for his NFL life. Three years into his career, the 6-foot-3, 255-pounder has amassed 46 receptions for 421 yards and four touchdowns -- not exactly Tony Gonzalez-like numbers.

That said, despite his inconsistencies as a player, Harbor always had a leg up when it came to a roster spot when Reid called the NovaCare Complex home. Whether it's fair or not, all NFL coaches have "their guys," and "their guys" are generally the draft choices taken on their watch.

After all, personnel people are like anyone else, they want to be successful and they want to think their choices are the right ones. It's all human nature.

Chip Kelly and his staff blew into Philadelphia with no allegiance to Harbor or anyone else, save the guys they have brought in since arriving, two of which happen to be high-profile tight ends.

First the Eagles signed a movement-type H-back in free agency in former Houston Texans stalwart James Casey, a player who really fits what Kelly wants to do offensively as far as disguising formations and creating mismatches. Then the selection of Stanford All-American Zach Ertz in the second round of the 2013
draft virtually sealed Harbor's fate.

Or did it?

It's always interesting to watch how football players react to a numbers game which seems insurmountable toward them. Some are so competitive they develop tunnel vision and stay focused on their own business, letting the chips fall where they may. Others give up when they can no longer see the carrot of a roster spot dangling in front of them.

Harbor has taken the positive approach, developing a do-anything mentality that has to be desirous to any coach whether the mentor has a history with the Illinois native or not. The fourth-year pro spent most of his day at OTAs on Monday at tight end and on special teams as usual, but created whispers when it was revealed he also has been lining up as a rush linebacker in Billy Davis' hybrid 3-4 scheme.

In fact, Harbor confirmed he recently spent an entire day practicing as an outside linebacker, a position in which the Eagles are painfully thin.

"I haven't played much defense since high school, when I was a safety, but as an offensive player, we think we have to know more and be a little smarter than those D-lineman," Harbor joked before explaining tight end is still his main job description.

"I'm still a tight end," Harbor continued. "I'm not switching to linebacker. In certain situations -- emergency-style situations -- if something happens, you need to learn that ability to play some defense."

A glass is half empty-type might point out that veteran players who switch sides of the ball often do so because they are not in the team's plans at their current position.

"I'm not looking at it like that," Harbor explained. "I know there is a lot of good tight ends and there is a good chance that I could end up going somewhere else. I'm just going to go out there and compete."

Perhaps Harbor's key to making this team is becoming the NFL's version of a utilityman who can help it in multiple spots depending on what it might need in a particular week. Troy Brown did it in New England for years and these days you'll see Julian Edelman occasionally flip sides for the Patriots.

"There isn't many 6-3, 250-some guys that can run well is their thinking, and they're athletic," Harbor said. "There are 45 guys that dress every Sunday. If something happens, someone gets nicked, if I know the defense, I can help out there."

The odds remain stacked against Harbor in Philadelphia, but if the curtain is indeed closing on his time with the Eagles, there are still 31 other teams in the NFL.

And some of them may want a versatile tight end willing to do anything to help his team win.

"I want to make myself more diverse as a player. Do more things, line up in more situations. If defense helps me out there, I'm going to learn some defense."


BIRD SEED:

*WR Jason Avant has also been taking some snaps with the defensive backs, indicating he's also on the bubble heading into training camp.

*LT Jason Peters, CB Cary Williams, S Patrick Chung, DE Fletcher Cox and offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland all missed practice due to weather-related travel issues

*The Eagles made a roster move before practice, releasing rookie free agent running back Miguel Maysonet and signing Youngstown State tight end Will Shaw.

*Nick Foles had a slight edge on Michael Vick when it came to work with the first team, It's still clearly a three-horse race between those two and rookie Matt Barkley. Foles had the biggest completion of the day, hitting Avant in stride down the right sideline.

*WR Ifeanyi Momah always turns heads with his 6-foot-7, 240-pound frame which screams mismatch every time he steps on the field. Everyone seems to love the Boston Collge product but I just don't see the suddenness or route running ability. Momah hung Foles out to dry on a quick comeback with a painfully slow break.

Eagles sign TE Shaw

PHILADELPHIA - The Eagles continue to play with the bottom of their roster, signing rookie free agent TE Will Shaw and releasing RB Miguel Maysonet. Shaw had attended the team’s rookie minicamp from May 10-12 on a tryout basis.

After beginning his collegiate career as a safety, Shaw (6-foot-3, 245) transitioned to tight end during his junior season at Youngstown State and finished his career with 43 receptions for 629 yards and eight touchdowns.

A second-team All-Missouri Valley Conference selection as a senior, Shaw caught 35 passes for 429 yards and five scores in his first full season at tight end. As a sophomore, Shaw appeared in 11 games (eight starts) as a safety, recording 48 total tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, one interception and two pass breakups.

He began his collegiate career at Mesa (AZ) Community College, where he was a second-team All-Region I selection as a defensive back, before transferring to Youngstown State following his freshman season. A native of Baltimore, Md., Shaw attended Highland High School where he played wide receiver and defensive back for the Hawks.

Soul gets a home win, knocks off Preds

PHILADELPHIA – The Philadelphia Soul won their first home game of the season by defeating the Orlando Predators, 61-51, in front of 9,094 fans at the Wells Fargo Center.  The Soul got back to .500 on the season after defeating Doug Plank and the Orlando Predators for the second time this season.

“We did a great job tonight,” explained Soul head coach Clint Dolezel about the win.  “There are still some things we need to work on as a team, but I’ll take the win.  I’m happy that we were able to hang on for this win, our team really came together and everyone did what they needed to do.  I think there a few things we can tighten up on defense.  But for right now, I’m happy with my team and happy we were able to pull things through together and finally get this win at home.”

Russell Athletic Offensive Player of the Game Tiger Jones led Philadelphia receivers with five receptions for 114 yards and three touchdowns. Andrae Thurman had eight catches for 67 yards and one touchdown, while Ryan McDaniel recorded six receptions for 56 yards.  Larry Brackins hauled in one catch for three yards and a touchdown.

Soul QB Dan Raudabaugh connected on 21-of-27 passes for 251 yards and six touchdowns.

On the ground, FB Derrick Ross finished the game with 23 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns.

Riddell Defensive Player of the Game DB Rayshaun Kizer recorded five tackles, a forced fumble, fumble recovery, and an interception. LB Joe Goosby had 5.5 tackles on the night, while DB James Romain had 4.5 tackles and a 50-yard interception return for a touchdown.

Orlando’s QB Aaron Garcia connected on 23-of-43 passes for 292 yards, six touchdowns and two interceptions.  J. Lewis Small Playmaker of the Game WR Maurice Williams led the Predators’ receivers with three touchdowns on six catches for 122 yards. WR T.T. Toliver hauled in 10 catches for 108 yards and a touchdown.  DB Levy Brown led the defense with 6.5 tackles and a forced fumble.

Both teams scored two offensive touchdowns in the first quarter.  Orlando scored on a 1-yard run by LB Marlon Moye-Moore and a 12-yard catch by WR Maurice Williams, with both extra points being missed.  Orlando also had a 12-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown by DB Dominic Jones.  Philadelphia scored on a 3-yard catch by WR Larry Brackins and a 23-yard catch by WR Andrae Thurman to close out the quarter with Orlando leading 19-14.

Philadelphia’s defense was able to stop the Orlando offense twice during the second quarter.  Once by forcing a turnover with a forced fumble and recovery by DB Rayshaun Kizer, and the other was a stop on fourth down.  Both stops led to Philadelphia touchdowns, with FB Derrick Ross scoring on a 1-yard run and an 11-yard catch.  Philadelphia’s 21 unanswered points put Philadelphia in the lead, 28-19, at the end of the first half. 

Orlando cut the Philadelphia lead to three at the end of the third quarter after scoring three touchdowns to Philadelphia’s two.  Williams recorded two touchdowns for Orlando on a 5-yard and 48-yard catch and WR T.T. Toliver scored on a 12-yard catch.  Philadelphia’s WR Tiger Jones kept the Soul ahead in the game, scoring on a 40-yard and 16 yard catch.  The quarter ended with the Soul leading, 42-39.

The Soul opened up the fourth quarter with the Cutters Catch of the Game when QB Dan Raudabaugh hit Jones on another deep play, scoring on a 38-yard pass, but failed to convert on the extra point.  DB James Romain made the AFL Highlight of the Game when he intercepted the ball for a touchdown on a 50-yard return.  Orlando tried to fight back, scoring on two 3-yard touchdown catches by WR Jason Geathers, but fell short after Philadelphia sealed their win on a 2-yard run by Ross.  The final score was 61-51.

The Soul will be on the road next week against the Tampa Bay Storm on Saturday, May 25 at 7:30 p.m. ET.  The game will be aired on CBS Sports Network. 

Russell Athletic Offensive Player: Philadelphia WR Tiger Jones

Riddell Defensive Player: Philadelphia DB Rayshaun Kizer

J Lewis Small AFL Playmaker: Orlando WR Maurice Williams

Cutter’s Catch of the Game: Philadelphia WR Tiger Jones 4th Quarter TD Catch

Spalding Highlight of the Game: Philadelphia DB James Romain 50-yard interception for a TD

Early goal stands up as Union top Fire

Chester, Pa. – The Philadelphia Union earned a 1-0 victory against the Chicago Fire (2-7-1) Saturday night at PPL Park behind a third-minute goal from forward Jack McInerney on an assist from fellow forward Sebastien Le Toux.

“I think Chicago is a much better team than their record shows and credit to them,” said Hackworth. “They certainly tried to come in and put us under a ton of pressure and their ball movement was dangerous, so for us to have to deal with that for 90 plus minutes and grab this win says lot about our guys.”

McInerney headed a perfect inswinger from Le Toux past Chicago goalkeeper Sean Johnson in the third minute of play.   McInerney’s goal was his eighth of the MLS regular season and the assist from Le Toux marked his fourth, both of which are league highs.

Chicago was forced to deal with a Union contingent that created a ton of chances. Much of the play in this match came from the midfield play from Kleberson, paired with Michael Farfan who pinched in from a right midfield role to support, and from the tireless efforts of Brian Carroll.

“He’s got such good feet and great vision that he draws some attention from the [opposing] defense,” Carroll said of Kleberson postgame. “It helps our outside midfielders and forwards going into the attack and allows me to focus on solidifying us defensively. It gives me an extra second or two as well to find him or find someone else to switch the play [on the field]. We are happy to have someone of his caliber on the team.”

Danny Cruz, customarily on the right flank, was switched to the left and was tireless on attack, creating chances inside the 18-yard-box. He spoke on the team effort that allowed the Union (5-4-3, 18 points) to come away with a strong win at PPL Park.

“It’s no secret when we played [Chicago at Toyota Park], we got outplayed, but I always say good teams find a way to win and we did,” said Cruz. “And tonight they came out a bit more physical, but credit to us. I think we stayed together as a unit and it was a good group effort. Our back line played well, a lot of good running from our guys in the midfield and I’d like to point out Sebastien Le Toux, who was phenomenal today. He was outstanding all the way around.”

In their three-game, eight day stretch, the Union captured six of nine possible points, earning those points both home and on the road. The Union now enjoy a few days off before it’s next match, Saturday at Stade Saputo against the Montreal Impact (7:00 p.m. ET, Comcast SportsNet), followed by third round U.S. Open Cup action against either the Pittsburgh Riverhounds on the road or the Ocean City Nor’Easters at PPL Park, with either set for a 7 p.m. kick on May 28.

“It was a wild week, but two wins in one week is solid,” said Carroll. “It was lopsided result midweek, but the guys picked themselves up and responded. Anytime you can beat a team in one week you take a lot of pride in that.”

BOX SCORE

Philadelphia Union 1, Chicago Fire 0

Saturday, May 18; 7:30 p.m. ET

PPL Park, Chester, Pa.



SCORING SUMMARY

PHI: McInerney 3’ (Le Toux)



DISCIPLINARY SUMMARY

CHI: Thompson 14’ (caution)

PHI: Carroll 56’ (caution)

CHI: Anibaba 57’ (caution)

CHI: Thompson 63’ (second caution – red)

PHI: Williams 73’ (caution)

PHI: Casey 91’ (caution)



UNION STARTING 11

MacMath, Williams, Okugo, Soumare, Gaddis, Carroll, Kl├ęberson (Casey 71’), Cruz (Daniel 64’), Farfan, Le Toux, McInerney (Fernandes 90’)



FIRE STARTING 11

Johnson, Berry, Segares, Anibaba, Thompson, Larentowicz, Lindpere (Alexandre Monteiro 75’), Duka (Amarikwa 81’), Pause, Rolfe (MacDonald 53’), Nyarko

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Matthysse stuns Peterson in A.C,

By John McMullen

ATLANTIC CITY (The Phanatic Magazine) - The heavy-hitting WBC interim super lightweight champion Lucas Matthysse stunned IBF junior welterweight kingpin Lamont Peterson in the catch-weight main event of SHOWTIME Championship Boxing at Boardwalk Hall.

Matthysse (34-2, 32 KOs) flashed his prodigious power late in Round 2 when a left hook grazed Peterson's head and sent the Washington D.C. native to the canvas.

Peterson (31-2-1) survived the round and came out firing in the third, returning the favor by sending an off balance Matthysse sprawling. That was fool's gold for Peterson, however, as another left hook from the Argentine caught Peterson flush. This time there was no recovery. Matthysse raised his arms thinking he had won but to Peterson's credit he got to his feet. The legs weren't there, though, and a right-left combo ended Peterson's night.

The semifinal saw IBF welterweight champion Devon Alexander dismiss his fourth-rated contender, United Kingdom star Lee Purdy. Originally scheduled as an Alexander  title defense, Purdy, who got the fight as an injury replacement for Kell Brooks, lost his shot at the crown before the bell even rang, weighing in above the welterweight limit of 147 pounds.

Alexander (25-1, 14 KOs), who has already won world titles in two divisions despite being only 25 years old, was far too quick for the overmatched Purdy (20-4-1) and peppered him with ease throughout but he didn't look like he was actually hurting the Brit. That said, Purdy's legs betrayed him and he couldn't answer the bell for Round 7.

In a battle between unbeaten junior middleweights, Las Vegas' Shawn Porter stayed that way, dominating Toronto's Phil Lo Greco en route to a 10-round unanimous decision. The scorecards read 99-89 and two 100-88 compilations, indicating the dominance of Porter, who happens to be nicknamed "Showtime,"
the television home of tonight's card.

Young middleweight Anthony Ogogo (2-0, 1 KO) made his U.S. debut count by pitching a shutout against Puerto Rican journeyman Edgar Perez (5-5) in a six-round bout. The 24-year-old Ogogo, who took home a Bronze Medal in the 2012 London Olympics, was the far busier fighter throwing 435 punches to just 186
for Perez. He also connected on far more, 36 percent to a dismal 17 for Perez.

Washington, D.C. light heavyweight prospect Thomas Williams (14-0, 10 KOs) remained unbeaten by easily outpointing veteran Otis Griffin (24-13) in an eight-round affair. The 25-year-old Williams improved to 3-0 in 2013 by earning all three scorecards (80-72, 79-73 and 79-73) over Griffin, the winner of the reality program "The Next Great Champ" and a former USBA Light Heavyweight Champion.

Neither fighter overwhelmed, though, Williams landed just 111 of his 379 punches and Griffin was far worse, hitting the more inexperience fighter just 58 total times and connecting on just two jabs in the entire fight.

Lamont Peterson's brother, Anthony Peterson (32-1, 20 KOs), dominated Dominic Salcido (18-5) for two rounds before the bout was stopped, purportedly due to Salcido's broken nose. After the bout, however, Salcido said he could have continued although his nose was clearly swelling. Either way Salcido was
clearly no match for Peterson, who owns wins over Javier Jauregui, Daniel Attah, and Luis Arceo, with his only loss a controversial disqualification against Brandon Rios.

In an eight round bantamweight fight Puerto Rico's Cesar Seda (25-1, 17 KO's) took an easy unanimous decision over Mexico's Miguel Tamayo (13-6-2) even winning one scorecard by a dominating 80-70 score, winning Rounds 6 and 8 by 10-8 margins despite scoring no knockdowns.

The undercard opened with a pair of lightweights earning TKOs. New York's Jamel Herring (3-0, 2 KOs), a 2012 U.S. Olympian, topped San Juan's Victor Galindo (1-2) while Toledo's Robert Easter, Jr. (4-0, 4 KOs) stopped Eduardo Guillen of Texas.

Unbeaten bantamweight Rau'Shee Warren (4-0, 2 KOs) kept the TKO parade going by dismissing Chicago's Angel Carvajal.

In a swing bout before the SHOWTIME portion of the crowd, bantamweight Haroon
Khan (2-0, 1 KO), the younger brother of former Unified super lightweight
champion Amir Khan,  needed just 57 seconds to top Vicente Medellin, who has
never won is his pro career falling to 0-6.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Phillies release statement on Halladay surgery

PHILADELPHIA -  Phillies pitcher Roy Halladay underwent surgery yesterday on his labrum and rotator cuff; and the team issued a statement today.

“Roy had successful shoulder surgery yesterday. He had an arthroscopic evaluation and underwent debridement of his labrum and rotator cuff as well as removal of an inflamed bursa,"  Phillies director of medical services Dr. Michael G. Ciccotti said. "He'll begin a progressive rehabilitation program and if all goes well, he may possibly begin a throwing program in 6-8 weeks.”

McNutt lands in Miami

The Miami Dolphis have been awarded wide receiver Marvin McNutt off of waivers from the Eagles.

Philadelphia waived McNutt, a sixth-round pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, earlier this week in order to make room for running back Felix Jones.

McNutt appeared in four games for the Eagles in 2012 but did not catch a pass. He completed his collegiate career as the Iowa Hawkeyes all-time leading receiver with 170 catches for 2,861 yards and 28 touchdowns after being converted from quarterback to wide receiver during his sophomore season in 2009.

John McMullen on NFL Offseason News

Galaxy rout Union at PPL Park

Chester, Pa. – The Los Angeles Galaxy netted three goals in the final 20 minutes to top the Union, 4-1, at PPL Park on Wednesday.

Despite controlling the pace of play for much of the game, the Union (4-4-3) dropped points at home for the second time this season as Robbie Keane, Landon Donovan and second half substitute Hector Jimenez all scored late to give the Galaxy (5-3-2) three points.

“I think we had the two-time defending champions on the rope in a big way,” said Union manager John Hackworth, postgame. “Just got to be able to sustain that. I think we got stretched and I don’t think we kept possession of the ball the same way we did in the first half. A lot of silly turnovers early in that second half and we never really got our momentum back, never really put the game on our terms again.”

It would be Los Angeles that struck first, as a deflection from goalkeeper Zac MacMath off a Donovan corner was able to find its way into the back of the net in just the third minute. The Union then took the game to the Galaxy and were rewarded in the 23rd minute when a long Sheanon Williams throw-in found the head of defender Amobi Okugo. The goal was Okugo’s second of the season and the third assist for Williams directly coming from his throw-ins.

“I think we had this team for more than 40 minutes. I think we had a couple of opportunities to go up 2-1 on them, to be honest,” said Williams. “The difference is that they finished their chances and we didn’t. I thought we did a good job for most of the game and whenever we get the chance to play them again we have to put forth a good effort for 90 minutes. If you want to take this as a 4-1 game then go for it, but we threw numbers forward knowing that we wanted to get points at home and [the Galaxy] punished us for it.”

Brazilian midfielder Kleberson made his first start for the Union, exhibiting a strong controlling presence in central midfield, creating space and playing perfectly timed and weighted balls in to space for players running forward.

“I was looking forward to getting my first start and coming here. Adjusting to the American game and waiting on the bench and observing it the past few weeks has been good for me,” Kleberson said via translator after the match. “To get my first start tonight was a big deal for me and I am glad that John Hackworth had the faith in me and I was able to reward him for that confidence.”

The Union cap off a three-game in eight day stretch on Saturday with another match against the Chicago Fire at PPL Park (7:30 p.m., The Comcast Network).

BOX SCORE

LA Galaxy 4, Philadelphia Union 1

May 15; 7:30 p.m. ET

PPL Park, Chester, PA



SCORING SUMMARY

LA – Zac MacMath (own goal) 3’

PHI – Amobi Okugo (Sheanon Williams) 23’

LA – Robbie Keane (Landon Donovan, Marcelo Sarvas) 71’

LA – Hector Jimenez (Landon Donovan) 80’

LA – Landon Donovan (Robbie Keane) 87’



DISCIPLINARY SUMMARY

PHI – Bakary Soumare 53’ (caution)

PHI – Raymon Gaddis 68’ (caution)

LA – Sean Franklin 85’ (caution)

PHI – Amobi Okugo 90’+1 (caution)



UNION STARTING 11

Zac MacMath, Sheanon Williams, Bakary Soumare (Michael Farfan 81’), Amobi Okugo, Raymon Gaddis, Danny Cruz (Antoine Hoppenot 64’), Brian Carroll, Keon Daniel, Michael Farfan, Sebastien Le Toux (Conor Casey 64’) Jack McInerney.



GALAXY STARTING 11

Carlo Cudicini, Todd Dunivant (Greg Cochrane 81’), Omar Gonzalez, A.J. DeLaGarza, Tommy Meyer (Sean Franklin 63’), Juninho, Mike Magee, Marcelo Sarvas, Landon Donovan, Robbie Keane, Jose Villarreal (Hector Jimenez 72’).

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Soul's Robinson wins Week 8 defensive honors

PHILADELPHIA – Soul defensive lineman Bryan Robinson was awarded the Riddell Defensive Player of the Week award following a dominating performance in Week 8.  The fourth-year veteran recorded two sacks and five tackles-for-loss in the Soul’s loss to the Pittsburgh Power.

Robinson dominated the game defensively, as his performance gave him 10.5 tackles-for-loss, most in the league, and 5.5 sacks on the season, second most.  In addition to this performance, Robinson is also credited for having a blocked kick.

“This is a great honor to win this award,” said Robinson. “I really wouldn’t have been in the situation I was in to have this performance if it wasn’t for the defense as a whole.  Between the play-calling and everyone doing what they were suppose to do, I just happened to get put in the right situation.  I’m proud to receive this award.  Hopefully, there’s more of these awards coming to our team.”

After his two sacks performance, Robinson placed himself into No. 2 in the Soul record books for the most sacks in a Soul career.  With 2.5 additional sacks, he will be tied for most all-time in a Soul career at 18 sacks.

The Soul (3-4) return to action in Week 9 for another home game against the Orlando Predators (2-5) in Doug Plank’s return to Philadelphia at the Wells Fargo Center at 7 p.m. on Saturday, May, 15. 

Temple Men's Basketball To Take Part in BROOKLYN HOOPS Holiday Invitational

PHILADELPHIA - The Temple men's basketball team will take part in the the 2nd annual BROOKLYN HOOPS Holiday Invitational presented by adidas when the Owls take on three-time defending Northeast Conference champion LIU Brooklyn on Saturday, Dec. 21 at Barclays Center. The contest is part of a tripleheader of college hoops that features 2013 NCAA Tournament finalist Michigan against Stanford along with Manhattan vs. Buffalo.

Temple, coming off a 24-10 season, is one of only eight teams to compete in the last six NCAA Tournaments.  The Owls advanced to the third round of the 2013 NCAA Tournament, defeating North Carolina State, 76-72, before falling to fourth-ranked and top-seeded Indiana, 58-52.  Temple returns eight letterwinners from the 2012-13 squad, including junior starters Will Cummings and Anthony Lee.

The Blackbirds made history in 2012-13, becoming the first team in NEC history to win three straight conference tournaments and earn three consecutive trips to the NCAA Tournament. LIU won 20 games for the third consecutive season and has won 72 contests over that span.

Sharrif Floyd headlines local NFL Draftees

NEW YORK - A total of 236 high schools contributed to the 254 players selected in the seven rounds of the 2013 NFL Draft on April 25-27, USA Football announced today. Chandler High School in Chandler, Arizona led all high schools with three players selected.

“There's a lot of great athletes that come out of the program,” said Miami Dolphins first-round selection Dion Jordan, a Chandler grad. “They train us well to get us ready for college, make sure we take care of business in school, first of all, so we can have that opportunity. Because of the community and the coaching, a tremendous amount of athletes come from our area.”

Locally, nine players from Pennsylvania high schools were taken, including George Washington's Shariff Floyd, who was the 23rd overall pick by the Minnesota Vikings. Seven draftees came from New jersey and two from Delaware.

Here's a look:

Pennsylvania:
DT Sharrif Floyd, Florida - George Washington (Philadelphia), taken by Minnesota Round 1
OT Justin Pugh, Syracuse -  Council Rock (Newtown), taken by NY Giants in Round 1
DT Jordan Hill,  Penn State - Steelton Highspire (Harrisburg), taken by Seattle in Round 3
DB Blidi Wreh-Wilson, UConn -  General McLane (Edinboro), taken by Tennessee in Round 3
QB Ryan Nassib, Syracuse -  Malvern Prep School, taken by NY Giants in Round 4
OG Earl Watford, James Madison -  Simon Gratz (Philadelphia), taken by Arizona in Round 4
OC Eric Kush, California (PA) - Chartiers Valley (Bridgeville), taken by Kansas City in Round 6
LB Nick Moody, Florida State - Roman Catholic (Philadelphia), taken by San Francisco in Round 6
OG G Jared Smith, Greencastle Antrim (Greencastle), taken by Seattle in Round 7

New Jersey:
DB  Dwayne Gratz, UConn - Piscataway, taken by Jacksonville in Round 3
DB Logan Ryan, Rutgers -  Eastern Senior (Voorhees), taken by New England in Round 3
LB Khaseem Greene, Rutgers - Elizabeth, taken by Chicago in Round 4
LB Gerald Hodges, Penn State - Paulsboro, taken by Minnesota in Round 4
DB Josh Evans, Florida -  Irvington, taken by Jacksonville in Round 6
RB Theo Riddick, Notre Dame - Immaculata (Somerville), taken by Detroit in Round 6
LB Steve Beauharnais, Rutgers -  Saint Joseph School (Hammonton), taken by New England in round 7

Delaware:
DB Duron Harmon, Rutgers -  Caesar Rodney (Camden Wyoming), taken by New England in Round 3
WR Justin Brown, Penn State/Oklahoma -  Concord (Wilmington), taken by Pittsburgh in Round 6

Rockets GM Daryl Morey talks about his protege -- Sam Hinkie

“I have been extremely fortunate to benefit from Sam's counsel, tireless work ethic, and judgment beyond his years for as long as I have," Rockets GM Daryl Morey said. "He is well prepared for this new challenge and ready to lead. His valuable insight regarding players and the NBA, whether building around Yao Ming or taking the multiple strategic steps necessary to acquire James Harden, has provided the Rockets with an unmatched advantage over the years. Philadelphia will realize over time what an important acquisition they have made. I wish Sam the best in his new role and I am grateful he is in the Eastern Conference.”

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Union trade Gabe Farfan to Chivas USA

Chester, Pa. – The Philadelphia Union traded midfielder Gabriel Farfan to Chivas USA in exchange for allocation money and a 2014 MLS SuperDraft natural first-round pick.

“We want to thank Gabe for all of his contributions to the Philadelphia Union over the past few years,” Team Manager John Hackworth said. “He has been a true professional for our club and we wish him the best of luck as he continues his career.”

Farfan, 24, originally signed with the Union in March of 2011 after spending that spring with the club on trial. Since signing, Farfan has appeared in 43 matches for the Union, scoring one goal and adding three assists. Prior to playing professionally, the California-native played for Cal State Fullerton, where he earned Second-Team All-Big West honors in his first season.



Farfan's brother Michael remains on the Union.

Sixers name Hinkie GM

PHILADELPHIA, PA. – The Philadelphia 76ers have named Sam Hinkie President of Basketball Operations and General Manager.

Hinkie arrives to Philadelphia after eight years with the Houston Rockets, most recently as Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations since 2010, where he was responsible for the Rockets' considerable and ground-breaking analytic efforts, which included utilizing data to improve decision making in the NBA Draft, via free agency and trades, and in-game strategy. Additionally, Hinkie provided day-to-day management of basketball operations, managed the Rockets salary cap and scouted prospects in person across the collegiate and professional ranks.

"I am very pleased to announce that we have named Sam Hinkie as the 76ers President of Basketball Operations and General Manager, which I believe to be an important step in building a high-performance organization," said Sixers Managing Owner Josh Harris. "Sam is a proven innovator and holds values that align with those of our ownership group. Sam’s experience, his judgment, and his analytical approach make us confident that he is the right leader to build a foundation for long-term success – with the goal of ultimately contending for a championship – here in Philadelphia."

“Houston Rockets owner Leslie Alexander hired me to bring a data-driven approach to their front office and general manager Daryl Morey allowed me to flourish. I am so fortunate and grateful for the opportunities they both afforded me,” said Hinkie. “I agreed to come lead the Sixers because the first, and to my mind, the most important building block is in place: A thoughtful ownership group committed to building a basketball operation that is data-driven, strategic and relentlessly innovative. The challenge ahead of us is real, but I am invigorated to build something lasting for Philadelphia.”

While with the Rockets, the team won more games (160) than in any three-year run in the history of the franchise, including a historic 22-game winning streak, the third longest winning streak in professional sports history.

Notably, Hinkie helped propel the Rockets to be considered the vanguard in basketball analytics, as profiled by The New York Times, Sports Illustrated, ESPN, and in Michael Lewis's New York Times Sunday Magazine cover story on Shane Battier (The No-Stats All-Star). Hinkie presented and lectured at Harvard, Stanford, and Wharton and is an original contributor to the leading sports analytics conference held annually at MIT.

Hinkie serves on the Advisory Board of KIPP, an innovative charter school network focused on disadvantaged children in urban communities. Sam also serves on the National Advisory Board of Positive Coaching Alliance, a non-profit that encourages character-building youth sports experiences. Prior to joining the Rockets, Sam advised NFL teams on draft strategies and ways to use statistical analysis to improve decision making. Hinkie also held positions in private equity & venture capital after beginning his career as a strategy consultant at Bain & Company.

Hinkie graduated summa cum laude from the University of Oklahoma and was named one of the top-60 undergraduate students in the nation by USA TODAY. He also holds an MBA from Stanford, graduating with highest honors as an Arjay Miller Scholar.

Kelly changes the Eagles

By John McMullen

PHILADELPHIA - Jump in my hoopty hoopty hoop ... I own that.

"And I ain't paying my rent this month ... I owe that."

Nicki Minaj is probably on a lot of playlists around Philadelphia but you certainly would have never expected to hear the Trinidadian-born songstress belting out "Starships" in the background of an Andy Reid practice.

Things are far different in South Philadelphia these days as Chip Kelly has not only changed the stale culture around the Eagles, he has strapped a defibrillater on it and shocked it into a new era.

Minaj headlined an eclectic soundtrack as the Eagles practiced in front of the media for the first time under Kelly. Ozzy Osbourne, Duran Duran, Pitbull, Tupac and The Scorpions were some of Kelly's others choices as the he flew the Birds through a 20-period session that could only be described as frenetic.

In fact, it was like being at an Arena Football League game with constant noise bombarding the senses at every turn.

"There's a lot of science behind it," the Eagles' new coach said when asked about the music. "We've used it for a while."

A Siri-like male voice announced the various periods in the practice, which is heavy on tempo and repetitions before a few "teaching sessions" late in the process.

"We just want to practice efficiently, so it's the best way for us to practice," the former Oregon mentor said. "You've got 90 guys now. I don't think anybody on our team is going to complain about the amount of reps they got. I think everybody gets a chance to show what they can do on film, so therefore we can make some real good evaluations in terms of where we are because at some point in time we're going to have to go from 90 to 75 and then eventually to 53.

"So we want to make sure that we can use the full time we have. Obviously, this isn't how we're going to practice during the season, but in the offseason I think it's the best way to practice."

Kelly is big on the "science" of the game, so much so that it's become a talking point for him as he interacts with the notoriously tough Philly media.

"Obviously, we know we can't practice full speed for the entire time we're out there, so it's got to be short bursts, but the game of football is short bursts," Kelly explained. "It's really an anaerobic sport when you look at it, because you're going hard for five to six seconds and then you're taking a break, and that's what we're trying to get accomplished with these guys."

More that a few have questioned what Kelly is trying to do at the game's most important position. He brought back 33-year-old starting quarterback Michael Vick and signed his old acolyte from Oregon, Dennis Dixon, while also proclaiming second-year man Nick Foles will be given a chance to compete and then drafting former USC star Matt Barkley.

Of course, Vick and Dixon are movement-based signal-callers who project in the read-option while Foles and Barkley are traditional drop-back passers who rely on a quick release and getting the ball out of their hands.

It's a confusing situation.

Vick and Foles split the first-team reps on Monday while the rookie Barkley also got a lot of looks.

"I always feel like I'm a starter," Vick said. "I think the mind-set that you have to have is that you're going to be the number one guy."

All that said, Kelly's philosophy is slowly starting to come into focus and it's all about quick decision making, something which could foreshadow Vick's demise and the eventual winner of his QB derby.

"I think the game is about making quick decisions," Kelly said. "It's a game of 60 to 70 to 80 four-second plays. So once the ball is snapped, it happens at that tempo. We're just trying to force them to -- everything we do has to kind of be -- reflect what the mission is, and the mission is to be prepared to play a four-second play."

You can feel some of the old school guys rolling their eyes when Kelly talks, and that kind of second-guessing is going to follow the rookie coach until he prove his "college gimmicks" work with the big boys.

"We want to be efficient in our time, we don't want to be on the field for a long time, want to maximize the time we're on the field, and obviously you see us go from tempo periods to teach periods, there's a rhyme or reason to what we're doing, time on task versus time teaching, and I think there's a good balance of that," Kelly said.

For now, about the only thing we do know is things have changed with the Eagles.

Hit it, Nicki ...

Eagles sign Felix Jones

PHILADELPHIA - The Eagles have agreed to terms with former Cowboys running back Felix Jones on a one-year contract.

Philadelphia worked out Jones last week and his signing comes on the heels of Monday's practice, one in which Chris Polk struggled mightily especially catching the football.

The Eagles are set with LeSean McCoy as a starter, while Bryce Brown and Jones should compete for the backup spot.

A former first-round selection (22nd overall) of the Dallas Cowboys in 2008, Jones (5-foot-10, 215) has rushed for 2,728 yards and 11 touchdowns on 569 carries (4.8 avg.), while adding 127 receptions for 1,062 yards and three touchdowns through the air during his five-year NFL career.

In 2012, Jones, 26, appeared in all 16 contests (seven starts) for the Cowboys and notched 402 yards and three touchdowns on 111 carries, while adding 25 receptions for 262 yards and two touchdowns. He enjoyed his best season in 2010 as part of a three-headed rushing attack in Dallas along with running backs Marion Barber and Tashard Choice, gaining 800 yards and one score on the ground while hauling in 48 receptions for 450 yards and one touchdown.

A three-time All-SEC selection at Arkansas, Jones amassed 5,099 career all-purpose yards for the Razorbacks, joining Darren McFadden (5,881) as the only players in school history to crack 5,000 career all-purpose yards. Jones started 11 of his 38 career games in Fayetteville, totaling 2,956 yards and 20 touchdowns on 286 carries. His 7.7 career yards per carry average ranked second only to Glen Davis (8.3 at Army from 1943-46) in NCAA history. The 2007 SEC Special Teams Player of the Year, he averaged 29.6 yards per return and scored two touchdowns as a junior, while climbing to ninth in NCAA history in career return average (28.2).

To make room for Jones on the 90-man roster the Eagles waived wide receiver Marvin McNutt, a sixth-round pick in 2012 who spent most of last season on the practice squad.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Promised Land reached in Bears' 1988 playoff sweep

by Bob Herpen
Phanatic Hockey Editor

It's a part of sports folklore in the Delaware Valley and on the national stage, that Moses Malone memorably predicted the 1982-83 Philadelphia 76ers were so confident of their ability to win the NBA championship, they'd sweep their way through the postseason, Fo' Fo' Fo.

Of course, the Sixers were momentarily derailed by losing one game in the Eastern Conference Finals to the Milwaukee Bucks, going 12-1 to clinch the franchise's second and last title -- so that prediction is more famous for what didn't actually occur.

But one team with a close connection to Philadelphia sports history actually did it: the 1987-88 Hershey Bears, at the time the American Hockey League affiliate to the Flyers.

Four in a row over Binghamton. Four more against Adirondack. Another four against Fredericton. An unprecedented and still league-record 12-0 blast through the AHL postseason.

The Calder Cup was a total mismatch. Hershey outscored the Fredericton Express by an 18-5 count, not allowing more than two goals in any of those contests. Wendell Young, a failed NHL goaltender with the crumbling mid-80s Vancouver Canucks who didn't get much of a look in a substitute role earlier in the season while Ron Hextall served an eight-game suspension, was the hero backstop.

It was 25 years ago yesterday that the championship came to the true Chocolate City. It was the seventh overall for the seminal AHL franchise, but the first and only with Philadelphia manning the controls.

Young stopped 35-of-37 shots in the terminal contest, surrendering both goals early in the game, which coincidentally provided the combined Nordiques/Canucks farm club with their only lead in the entire series. He ended the playoffs with a perfect record, having played every minute, following a regular season in which he went 33-15-1 with a 2.77 goals-against average and one shutout. That made Young an obvious choice for the Butterfield Trophy as the playoffs' MVP.

“As that season went on you could tell things were starting to look good, and we were turning the corner. We had a solid team talent-wise, but I think more importantly we were a very tight team who hung out a lot together.  We had a great dressing room with a lot of good leaders in it. That’s when you start realizing that you might be on to something special, when you end up winning the big games, because in those types of games, character really plays out.”

And it was also sweet revenge that Young did it against the Canucks organization, which gave up on him the previous offseason and dealt him to the Flyers.

“Absolutely. When players say it doesn’t mean anything to them, I don’t think they are being totally honest. When you leave an organization, you feel that they don’t want you, but the organization that you go to does. In so many words, I think people defend their honor by coming back to haunt people (in the old organization),” Young said.

Here's Mark Lofthouse with the game's first score. Videos courtesy of Fundy Cable of New Brunswick:




"That was probably the most fun I had since juniors," recalled Lofthouse last March to the Lebanon Daily News. "I had gone 11 years without winning anything as a team. When you win as a group, that's a highlight because you have someone to celebrate with."

And Kevin Maxwell with the tally that gave the Bears the lead for good:



Stacked with a unique blend of minor-league veterans (Mitch Lamoureux, Lofthouse, Dave Fenyves, Don Nachbaur, Al Hill, Ross Fitzpatrick, Ray Allison, Maxwell) and soon-to-be NHL talents (Gord Murphy, Jeff Chychrun, Nick Kypreos, Craig Berube) and some players on their last legs (Kevin McCarthy, Greg Smyth, Magnus Roupe), the Bears were impervious to failure for five whole weeks.

While the Orange and Black were wiped out in the first round by the Washington Capitals in overtime of Game 7 on the road, the Bears steamrolled the competition en route to the club's only title while operating under the Flyers' control.

Hershey finished atop the Southern Division that year, winning the most games in one season during their 12-year stint as the club's primary minor-league affiliate. Head coach (and current Flyers assistant coach) John Paddock was in his third year at the helm, and guided the Bears to the Calder finals two years prior, but lost to the powerhouse Adirondack Red Wings.

This time it would be markedly different.

An 11-day break separated the Red Wings from the Bears after Hershey rolled through the B-Whale in the first round by scores of 3-2, 4-1, 4-3 and 8-5. Adirondack was coming off a seven-game decision against the Rochester Americans which included a 6-4 road win in Game 7, but its adrenaline from that win two days later evaporated into a 5-1 loss at Hersheypark Arena. What followed were Bears wins of 6-2, 6-4 and 6-5 to finish off their second four-game whitewash.

Fredericton finished second in the North, and dispatched both Sherbrooke and Maine to reach the Calder finals, but there was no contest. Though there is no correlation, it certainly looked suspicious that the club picked up stakes that Summer and moved further East, to Nova Scotia to become the Halifax Citadels and the sole affiliate of the Nords.

As Scoop Cooper wrote,"Some 2,000 ecstatic fans were on hand to greet the Bears when their Air Canada charter landed at Harrisburg International Airport at 1:45 a.m. the next morning after a raucous 850-mile flight from the Canadian Maritimes.  Two days later another 10,000 lined the sidewalks of Chocolate Avenue for a victory parade."

The 1964 Cleveland Barons had been the last AHL team to sweep through the playoffs, but at that time, only the Calder Cup round was a best-of-seven. Since passing to the Colorado Avalanche and now the Washington Capitals, the Bears have taken home four more titles (1997, 2006, 2009-10), but the first was a five-gamer and the rest were six-game affairs.

Only Albany (1995), Milwaukee (2004), Philadelphia (2005) and Norfolk (2012) have posted a four-game sweep in the final round against their opponent.

None of them have been as perfect as the Hershey Bears were.

During the post-game scrum Paddock exclaimed, "This will never happen again. Not 12 straight wins. Never ever again." He's been right for the last quarter century.



 

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Bears sign Temple's Jones

PHILADELPHIA – Former Temple defensive back Maurice Jones has signed a rookie free agent contract with the Chicago Bears.

Jones is the fifth Owl to sign with an NFL team this spring. He joins RB Montel Harris (Tampa Bay Buccaneers), PK/P Brandon McManus (Indianapolis Colts), OL Martin Wallace (Cleveland Browns), and DE John Youboty (Denver Broncos)

A three-year starter at corner, Jones is the eighth Temple graduate to join the Chicago team.  FB Evan Rodriguez (a fourth round Draft pick in 2012), OL Derek Dennis, TE Steve Maneri, as well as Cliff Stein (Vice President of Football Administration), Sean Desai (defensive quality control), Bob Macedo (scouting), and Andre Odom (scouting) are currently with the Bears’ staff.

Temple’s 2012 class of signees—three Draftees and nine rookie free agents—set the school record with 12 players joining NFL teams.

Soul lose Power late in division matchup

PHILADELPHIA – The Philadelphia Soul fell short in the “Keystone Collision” against division-rival Pittsburgh Power, 53-48, in front of 8,098 fans at the Wells Fargo Center.  The Soul surrendered the lead late in the fourth quarter and was stopped by the Pittsburgh defense with 12 seconds remaining.

 “I wanted to win this game,” said Soul head coach Clint Dolezel.  “I’m kind of disappointed.  We executed well the whole game, and then we fell apart at the end.  I want to improve on everything.  It’s a lot of simple things that we need to work on.  Things don’t always go your way in these games, but it doesn’t matter, sometimes we need to win, and that’s all.”

J. Lewis Small Playmaker of the Game Tiger Jones led Philadelphia receivers with eight receptions for 124 yards and one touchdown.  Ryan McDaniel had seven catches for 90 yards and two touchdowns, while Andrae Thurman recorded five receptions for 49 yards.  Larry Brackins hauled in two catches for 21 yards and a touchdown.

Soul QB Dan Raudabaugh connected on 23-of-41 passes for 288 yards and four touchdowns.

On the ground, Derrick Ross finished the game with 21 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns.

Riddell Defensive Player of the Game DL Bryan Robinson recorded six tackles, five tackles-for-loss and two sacks. LB Joe Goosby had 7.5 tackles on the night, while DB LaRico Stevenson had the only interception. DB James Romain returned a 55-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, earning the AFL Highlight of the Game.

Pittsburgh’s QB Steven Sheffield connected on 19-of-35 passes for 272 yards and six touchdowns.   Russell Athletic Offensive Player of the Game WR Mike Washington led the Pittsburgh receivers with two touchdowns on eight catches for 142 yards and two rushing touchdowns, including earning the Cutters Catch of the Game. WR James Robinson hauled in four touchdowns on six catches for 84 yards.  DB Sergio Gilliam led the defense with six tackles and three pass breakups. 

The Soul opened the game with 14 unanswered points with touchdown passes to WR Ryan McDaniel and WR Larry Brackins.  Pittsburgh scored their first touchdown on a pass to WR Mike Washington.  Before closing out the first quarter, FB Derrick Ross punched in a 9-yard rushing touchdown to put Philadelphia up 21-7.

 In the second quarter, Pittsburgh outscored Philadelphia 20-14.  The Power scored on a 7-yard and 14-yard catch by WR James Robinson and a 5-yard run by Washington.  The Soul scored on a 30-yard touchdown catch by WR Tiger Jones and a 5-yard touchdown run by Ross.  Philadelphia led at the half 35-27.

 Both teams scored two touchdowns in the third.  Pittsburgh’s Robinson made a 15-yard touchdown catch and Washington caught a 38-yard touchdown pass late in the third quarter.  Philadelphia’s James Romain returned a 55-yard kickoff for a touchdown, while McDaniel brought in a 8-yard touchdown pass.

 Pittsburgh scored 14 unanswered in the fourth to take the lead on a 3-yard run by Washington and a 8-yard catch by Robinson.  On fourth and one, Pittsburgh defense stopped Philadelphia at the one.  Philadelphia stopped Pittsburgh, and got the ball back with 31 seconds left in the game.  Pittsburgh defense sealed the win for the Power by intercepting QB Dan Raudabaugh in the end zone.

 The Soul will host the Orlando Predators next week on Saturday, May 18 at 7:05 p.m. ET at the Wells Fargo Center.  The game will be aired on CBS Sports Network. 

  Russell Athletic Offensive Player: Pittsburgh WR Mike Washington

 Riddell Defensive Player: Philadelphia DL Bryan Robinson

 J Lewis Small AFL Playmaker: Philadelphia WR Tiger Jones

 Cutter’s Catch of the Game: Pittsburgh WR Mike Washington

Spalding Highlight of the Game: Philadelphia DB James Romain

Union earn 1-0 win in Chicago

Bridgewater, IL – Jack McInerney's goal in the 75th minute proved to be enough as the Philadelphia Union defeated the Chicago Fire 1-0 Saturday on a windy day at Toyota Park.

Behind a defense featuring two new starters in Bakary Soumare and Gabriel Farfan, goalkeeper Zac MacMath recorded a clean sheet for the Union (4-3-3), who have now captured 10 of their 15 total points in matches away from PPL Park.

"It was a tough game in a lot of ways and the wind is always something that affects a soccer game more than anything," said Union manager John Hackworth. "It was hard to play, especially in that first half, we just felt like we were pinned in. Second half, we didn't play our best soccer but we found a way to win, and that's huge."


Off a restart, second half substitute Sebastien Le Toux floated a ball to the feet of McInerney, who took a smart touch and hit a shot on goal in which a deflection from the Fire ensured the ball would find the back of the net.





Postgame, however, McInerney didn't open with the comments of him scoring now his team-high seventh goal of the season but instead gave all praise to the play of his goalkeeper.

"It was an unbelievable game. In fact, I think that it was [MacMath's] best game of the season by far," McInerney began. "He definitely kept us in the game in the first half and that was the goal, to get through [the first half] 0-0. It was just an unbelievable game and I doubt we even come away with a tie if it wasn't for him."


Statistically, the numbers will show that Chicago (2-6-1) generated more chances, held edge in possession and tried to dictate the pace for much of the match. But MacMath kept the Union in the game with six saves, showing on this day why he's the obvious choice as net minder for Hackworth and the Union technical staff.

"Every game you know you are going to have to make saves to keep your team in it, especially on the road when you are trying to get the shutout," said MacMath. "We have to do the same things going forward that we did today, which was fighting, having heart even when things aren't pretty. The guys stayed together. We didn't quit and as a result we got the three points."

It's short rest for the Union, who welcome the defending MLS champion Los Angeles Galaxy to PPL Park on Wednesday (7:30 p.m., Comcast SportsNet), then it's another match with the Fire on Saturday, May 18 (7:30 p.m., The Comcast Network ) where Hackworth noted some reshuffling could certainly occur.

"We'll have to mix it up because we have LA on Wednesday night," Hackworth said. "We have a lot of depth on our roster, so I am sure we are going to have to go into it deep."


BOX SCORE

Philadelphia Union 1, Chicago Fire 0

May 11; 1:30 p.m. ET

Toyota Park, Bridgeview, IL


SCORING SUMMARY

PHI – Jack McInerney 75' (Sebastien Le Toux)


DISCIPLINARY SUMMARY

CHI – Dilly Duka 62’ (caution)


UNION STARTING 11

Zac MacMath, Gabriel Farfan, Bakary Soumare, Amobi Okugo, Raymon Gaddis, Danny Cruz (Sebastien Le Toux 56’), Brian Carroll, Keon Daniel, Michael Farfan, Conor Casey (Antoine Hoppenot 61’), Jack McInerney.


FIRE STARTING 11

Sean Johnson, Gonzalo Segares, Austin Berry, Jalil Anibaba, Wells Thompson, Logan Pause, Joel Lindpere (Maicon Dos Santos 73’), Dilly Duka (Alexandre Monteiro De Lima 63’), Dan Paladini (Quincy Amarikwa 84’), Patrick Nyarko, Chris Rolfe

Villanova, Syracuse announce home and home hoops series

VILLANOVA, Pa. –Villanova University and Syracuse University have announced a home-and-home men’s basketball series that will feature a game in Philadelphia and a contest in the Carrier Dome over the next two seasons.

Syracuse will play Villanova in the Carrier Dome on December 28, 2013. The Wildcats will host the Orange at the Wells Fargo Center the following year.

“We are excited to announce the continuation of the Villanova-Syracuse rivalry,” stated Villanova Director of Athletics Vince Nicastro. “Our annual games against Syracuse were an integral part of our basketball schedule over the past 30 plus years, and included some of the greatest college basketball experiences in the nation.  We are thrilled to be able to continue that for the next two years.”

“The Villanova rivalry has given us some of our best moments,” added Dr. Daryl Gross, Director of Athletics at Syracuse. “It has traditionally been one of the top matchups in college basketball and we look forward to continuing the series.”

Syracuse and Villanova first met on the hardwood during the 1945-46 season. The two programs have played 70 times overall and Syracuse owns a narrow 38-32 advantage in the series. The Orange rank in a seventh place tie with Saint Joseph’s on the list of most familiar Wildcat opponents.

The two teams split games in 2012-13. The Orange won at home on January 12, 72-61, and Villanova earned a 75-71 triumph in overtime on January 26.

Syracuse was one of the original members of The BIG EAST Conference that first competed in the 1979-80 campaign. Villanova joined in the second year. All but four of the 70 contests played between Syracuse and Villanova came while the programs were affiliated with The BIG EAST. The Orange will officially move to the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) on July 1, 2013.

“Syracuse-Villanova games have been a great tradition and a big part of Big East basketball,” stated VU Coach Jay Wright. “When the Wildcats and Orange have met at the Carrier Dome and Wells Fargo Center, the environments have been two of the best in college basketball.”

"The series with Villanova has been one of our most competitive, year in and year out,” remarked Syracuse Coach Jim Boeheim. “It really took off when Coach (Rollie) Massimino was in charge and has certainly continued with Coach (Jay) Wright at Villanova.”

Friday, May 10, 2013

Sixers to name Sam Hinkie general manager

new Sixers GM Sam Hinkie
PHILADELPHIA – The Sixers have reached an agreement with Houston Rockets assistant GM Sam Hinkie to be their new general manager, according to YAHOO! Sports.

Hinkie will replace Tony DiLeo,  who was a consolation hire last season and a long-time employee of the organization.

Hinkie spent the the past eight years in Houston. After a promotion in which he became the youngest vice president in the NBA in 2007, Hinkie was again promoted to executive vice president in 2010. He led
the Rockets analytic efforts, using data to improve decision making in the draft, free agency, trades, and game strategy as well as providing day-to-day management of basketball operations, including managing the team’s salary cap.

The slaves to PER should be ecstatic with the Hinkie hire but he also scouted potential Rockets by evaluating prospects in person across the collegiate and professional ranks so it seems like he understands there is more to the process.

Hinkie graduated summa cum laude with a 4.0 GPA from the University of Oklahoma and was named one of the top-60 undergraduate students in the nation by USA TODAY. He also holds an MBA from Stanford, graduating with highest honors as an Arjay Miller Scholar.


Eagles sign 5 of their rookies

PHILADELPHIA – On the eve of their rookie mini-camp, the Eagles signed five of their eight draft picks, including tight end Zach Ertz, the team’s second-round pick from Stanford.

Philadelphia also agreed to deals with safety Earl Wolff (fifth round), and its three seventh-round selections: defensive end Joe Kruger, cornerback Jordan Poyer and defensive end David King.

An All-American honoree as a junior in 2012, Ertz (6-foot-5, 249) became the highest selected tight end (34th overall) by the Eagles since the team took Keith Jackson 13th overall in 1988. Ertz, 22, appeared in 38 career games at Stanford, recording 113 receptions for 1,434 yards and 15 touchdowns during his three-year career. His 898 receiving yards led all Stanford pass catchers and all FBS tight ends in 2012 while his 69 receptions tied for the FBS lead at the position. A native of Danville, CA, he was a first-team all-state selection as a senior at Monte Vista High.

A first-team All-ACC honoree as a senior at NC State, Wolff rounded out his collegiate career as the program’s all-time leader in games played (51) and starts (43), Wolff paced all active ACC players with 211 solo tackles (361 total), while also tying for third in school annals with eight forced fumbles. His mother, Sharon, was born and raised in North Philadelphia and has been a member of the national guard for 29 years.

The brother of Cleveland Browns OLB Paul Kruger, Kruger (6-foot-6, 269), 20, was an honorable mention All-Pac-12 selection as a junior in 2012. He appeared in 37 of 38 career games at Utah, collaring 69 tackles, nine sacks, 14 tackles for a loss, three forced fumbles and an interception. A native of Orem, UT, he earned all-state and all-conference honors as a senior at Pleasant Grove High School after leading the state of Utah with 15 sacks.

As a senior at Oregon State in 2012, Poyer (6-foot, 191) tied for second in the nation with seven interceptions, while adding 51 tackles and two sacks in 12 games. A consensus All-American and first-team All-Pac-12 honoree, Poyer, 22, appeared in 49 games during his four-year career with the Beavers, recording 153 tackles, 13 INTs, three sacks, 3 fumble recoveries and 2 forced fumbles.

King (6-foot-4, 281) appeared in 43 games (21 starts) for the Sooners, recording 70 tackles, seven tackles for a loss and 5.5 sacks in his career. Following his senior season in 2012, King, 23, was presented with the team’s Don Key Award, which is given annually to a senior who exemplifies excellence on the field and in the classroom.