Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Brind'Amour, Watson to make Flyers HOF; Timonen also on deck

The 24th and 25th members of the Philadelphia Flyers Hall of Fame will be enshrined next season, with one obvious name yet to be recognized and a dark-horse candidate from the club's initial glory years set to take his place with the greats.

Rod Brind'Amour and Jimmy Watson will be feted in separate ceremonies, with the former's night on Nov. 23 against Carolina and the latter on Feb. 29 when Calgary comes to town.

“Jimmy Watson and Rod Brind’Amour are two players who played the game in a way that truly epitomized Philadelphia Flyers hockey," said Flyers Chairman Ed Snider. "They were hard-working team leaders both on and off the ice who played with a lot of intelligence, grit, and determination. This is a very deserving honor for both of them, and I couldn’t be happier to welcome these outstanding men into the Flyers Hall of Fame."

Brind’Amour was acquired from the St. Louis Blues with Dan Quinn in exchange for Ron Sutter and Murray Baron on September 22, 1991 -- an absolute steal and perhaps then-GM Russ Farwell's best deal during his four seasons as Flyers GM couched between two Bob Clarke eras. He spent parts of nine seasons with the Orange and Black from 1991-2000, which included a career-high 97-point season in 1993-94 and seasons of 87 points in 1995-96 and 86 points in 1992-93.

The burly and fitness-dedicated Canadian also served as temporary captain when Eric Lindros was sidelined due to a Grade III concussion late in the 1997-98 season and was more often than not wearing the "A" for alternate captaincy throughout his tenure here. Unfortunately, the end of his time in Philadelphia was shrouded in vicious rumors regarding his wife and Lindros, and the man for whom he was dealt in January of 2000 -- Keith Primeau -- saw his career end much earlier than anticipated.

“It was a tremendous honor and privilege to play as long as I did for one of the best franchises in all of sports,” said Brind’Amour. “To be recognized in this way is hard to put into words but something I will cherish for the rest of my life. I thank the Flyers organization for this tremendous honor.”

In 633 career games with the Flyers, Brind’Amour recorded 235 goals and 366 assists for 601 points. He currently places ninth overall and fourth among centers in points; 10th overall and fourth among centers in goals; seventh overall and fourth among centers in assists; 12th overall and third among centers in games played; eighth overall in shorthanded goals (18); and ninth overall in power play goals (75).

Watson played his entire NHL career here, 613 games over parts of 10 seasons from 1973 until 1982.
Drafted 39th overall in 1972, he joined his brother Joe, an original Flyer.

“I am absolutely thrilled and humbled by the whole thing,” said Watson. “This is a tremendous honor and I am very excited to be a part of the Flyers Hall of Fame. Gosh, it is amazing how it all evolved but here we are and I am extremely proud to be getting inducted. What a wonderful honor.”

Watson went on to play on both Flyers championship teams and most importantly became a five-time NHL All-Star with quiet, dedicated play.

He finished his injury-shortened career with 38 goals and 148 assists for 186 points and a plus-295 rating, including a plus-65 season in 1975-76 and a plus-53 season in 1979-80. The career plus-minus total is the fifth-best in Flyers history. 186 points currently rank 10th among defensemen in the club record books, while the Delaware County resident sits 15th overall in team history in games played and fifth among blueliners.

From the inception of the hall in the Spring of 1988 through April of 1993, multiple honorees were celebrated within a season and on one night only.

Beginning in 1994 and lasting through a lag in the early part of the last decade, only one person was selected for induction at a time. Last season, with the dual enshrinements of Eric Lindros and John LeClair along with a separate night for Eric Desjardins, the franchise is moving towards bulk celebrations.

Despite his exclusion from the 2015 Hockey Hall of Fame class announced on Monday, it shouldn't be a stretch to think Mark Recchi will be next up for consideration.

And if one of the Watson brothers has made it, there should be room for a pair of key cogs in the wheels of two Stanley Cup victories: the late Ross Lonsberry -- an expert checker, short-handed threat who provided scoring punch -- and Bob "Hound" Kelly -- who was the heart and soul if not the motor which kept the club's work ethic in action.

Not to be outdone, the Flyers will also have Kimmo Timonen return when the defending-champion Chicago Blackhawks come to Philly on Oct. 14. The 40-year-old Finn retired mid-month having won his elusive Stanley Cup, and departed the city in late February after eight years ranking third in points (270) and 10th in games (519).

Sixers' Okafor set to play in Summer Leagues

PHILADELPHIA – The Philadelphia 76ers announced their invitees for the team’s mini-camps in preparation for both the Utah Jazz Summer League and the Samsung NBA Summer League in Las Vegas.

Jahlil Okafor, who was the third overall pick by Philadelphia in the 2015 NBA Draft, is expected to see action in both leagues.  Fellow draft additions Richaun Holmes, the 37th overall pick, and J.P. Tokoto, the 58th overall pick, are scheduled to compete in the Utah league only.

Returning Sixers Jerami Grant and Furkan Aldemir are anticipated to participate in the Utah league while JaKarr Sampson is slated for the Vegas league.  Jordan McRae, whose rights the Sixers acquired in the 2014 NBA Draft, and Arsalan Kazemi, whose rights Philly acquired in the 2013 NBA Draft, are both scheduled to play in the Vegas league.

A civics lesson courtesy of the Vikings' Josh Robinson

By John McMullen

Time for a civics lesson courtesy of the NFL and embattled Minnesota Vikings cornerback Josh Robinson.

Robinson has been excoriated in the court of public opinion in recent days for his perceived anti-gay tweets in response to the Supreme Court’s ruling on same-sex couples having the right to marry.

To many, the most objectionable of the 24-year-old’s thoughts was when he compared allowing two gay men to marry to allowing a man to wed his own 6-year-old child. The rebukes were swift and harsh forcing Robinson to delete the tweet and issue an apology.

Read the rest at FanRagSports.com

Pronger headed to hockey Hall of Fame

PHILADELPHIA - The Hockey Hall of Fame announced that former Flyers captain Chris Pronger will be a member of the 2015 induction class. 

Pronger is one of seven individuals who will be officially enshrined at the Hockey Hall of Fame induction ceremonies in Toronto on Monday, November 9. 

“We would like to congratulate Chris on his very deserving election into the Hockey Hall of Fame,” said Flyers president Paul Holmgren. “Prior to his career being cut short by injury, he was one of the greatest defensemen of all time. Chris played the game with a skill and tenacity that was second to none.  We are extremely proud of Chris and his accomplishments and wish him and his wife Lauren, along with their wonderful children, Jack, George and Lila, all the best.  Well done!”

Pronger was the 18th captain in Flyers history, serving in the role from September 16, 2011 to January 15, 2013.  He joined the Flyers on June 27, 2009 in a trade from Anaheim at the opening night of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft and went on to help the club reach the Stanley Cup Final in the 2009-10 season.  Pronger appeared in 145 games for the Flyers over three seasons, during which time he posted 15 goals and 77 assists for 92 points and a plus-30 rating, along with 133 PIM.

In addition to his time with the Flyers, Pronger also played for Hartford, St. Louis, Edmonton and Anaheim, the latter of which he helped win the Stanley Cup in 2007.  Pronger also won two Olympic gold medals with Team Canada, in 2002 and 2010, won both the Hart Trophy and Norris Trophy in 2000 while with St. Louis, and was a five-time NHL All-Star.  Over 18 seasons, Pronger collected 157 goals and 541 assists for 698 points in 1,167 games, along with a career plus-183 rating and 1,590 PIM.  He also scored 26 goals and added 95 assists for 121 points in 173 career playoff games.

Pronger becomes the 11th person to be inducted into the player category after spending a portion of his career playing for the Flyers.  He also becomes the fourth former Flyers captain to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, joining Peter Forsberg, Bob Clarke and Bill Barber. 

Flyers trade Rinaldo to Bruins; re-sign VandeVelde

PHILADELPHIA - The Flyers traded veteran center Zac Rinaldo to the Boston Bruins for a third-round pick in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft.

Rinaldo, 25, recently completed his fifth season in the Flyers organization.  In 2014-15, he recorded a goal and five assists for six points in 58 games, along with 102 PIM.

Rinaldo was selected by the Flyers in the sixth round (178th overall) of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft and started his professional career in 2010 with the team’s American Hockey League affiliate, then the Adirondack Phantoms.  He made his NHL debut with the Flyers during the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

In 223 career regular season games for the Flyers over four seasons (2011-2015), Rinaldo recorded eight goals and 16 assists for 24 points, along with 572 PIM.

Philadelphia Flyers also signed center Chris VandeVelde to a multi-year contract extensionl.

The 28-year-old is coming off a breakout season in which he recorded nine goals and six assists for 15 points in 79 games.  Prior to 2014-15, he had never appeared in more than 18 games in any of his previous four NHL seasons, and had posted a goal and three assists over 46 NHL games.

VandeVelde recorded six goals and an assist over a 10-game stretch from January 12 to February 5, including a three-game goal-scoring streak.  He also tied a career high with five shots on goal Feb. 15 in Buffalo. He was honored by his teammates at the end of the season with the Pelle Lindbergh Memorial Trophy, awarded annually to the Flyers’ most improved player from the previous season.

VandeVelde originally signed a minor-league contract with the Flyers in the summer of 2013 and was signed to an NHL deal that December.  He signed another one-year contract with the Flyers last July.

A native of Moorhead, Minnesota, VandeVelde played four seasons at the University of North Dakota for current Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol before beginning his professional career with the Edmonton organization in 2010.  He was originally drafted by the Oilers in the fourth round (97th overall) of the 2005 NHL Entry Draft.  

Monday, June 29, 2015

Eagles sign veteran OG John Moffitt

PHILADELPHIA - The Eagles have signed offensive guard John Moffitt to a one-year deal and released rookie free agent offensive lineman Cole Manhart. 

Moffitt most recently appeared in two games for the Denver Broncos during the 2013 season before spending the 2014 season away from football.

Moffitt (6-foot-4, 319) was originally drafted by the Seattle Seahawks in the third round of the 2011 NFL Draft out of the University of Wisconsin. Moffitt, 28, appeared in 17 games (15 starts) for the Seahawks over his first two seasons in the league. He started 42 of 45 games during his career at Wisconsin, splitting time between center and left guard.

An undrafted free agent signee of the Eagles in 2015, Manhart played collegiately at Nebraska-Kearney where he appeared in 44 games (33 starts).

Sixers hire Martin as Director of Performance Research and Development

PHILADELPHIA – The Philadelphia 76ers have hired Dr. David T. Martin as the team’s Director of Performance Research and Development.

Martin has been a pioneer in revolutionizing the way world-class athletes train for two decades. In this newly created role, Martin will oversee all aspects of the Sixers sport science, performance, training, rehabilitation and medical initiatives.

“Building up our sport science capabilities has been an important focus of the Sixers under Josh Harris and David Blitzer,” said Sixers President of Basketball Operations and General Manager Sam Hinkie. “To give our players every opportunity to be healthy and remain healthy, while also allowing them to perform at their best, we have made many investments – adding staff and integrating outside experts, partnering with pioneers in sports science and technology, and adjusting our day-to-day training, practice and recovery plans.”

“But none like David Martin. He is a scientist. He is also a coach to some of the world’s highest performing, most resilient athletes and coaches. We are delighted to add someone of his immense talents to lead and grow our efforts.”

Martin’s hire was the result of a yearlong search and recruitment effort, and he joins the Sixers from his Senior Sport Science position within the renowned Australian Institute of Sport (AIS).

“The opportunity to work with the Sixers at this particular time is incredibly exciting for me. This organization has attracted an amazing group of high caliber leaders, innovators and coaches who are all focused on pursuing excellence in sport. The leadership group that is currently in place is fostering a positive culture that encourages a creative, forward-thinking approach. I can’t think of a better place to be – the mission and goals of the Sixers align very closely with mine and the people with whom I get to work are outstanding.

"I am looking forward to getting started, growing resources and expertise that will contribute to player readiness, providing competitive advantages and creating something special for the city of Philadelphia."

Martin has accumulated 21 years of experience working with elite athletes and is widely recognized as an innovator and leader in high performance sport. He is also an accomplished applied sport scientist with more than 100 publications investigating topics such as talent identification, development of power, fatigue management, competition analysis, altitude training, and thermoregulation. Additionally, Martin has worked with numerous world-class coaches across a number of different sports, including basketball.

Most recently, Martin was appointed as the Senior Sports Scientist and Team Leader for the AIS Combat Centre, a new initiative he spearheaded designed to raise international competitiveness in four Australian Olympic combat sports.

Since the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Martin acted as the National Sport Science Coordinator for Cycling Australia.  Over the last five summer Olympic Games, the cycling teams supported by Martin and his colleagues have won eight Gold, eight Silver and 12 Bronze medals.  He has also worked with Australian World Record holders, World Champions and Australia’s only winner of the Tour de France, and frequently presents findings from his research at international sport science meetings.

Soul clinches AFL East Division title

PHILADELPHIA - The Cleveland Gladiators' 74-41 loss to the Jacksonville Sharks Saturday night, ensured that the Philadelphia Soul (12-2) clinched the East Division title with four games remaining in the 2015 regular season.

The Soul defeated the Tampa Bay Storm, 64-42, on Friday night and it marks the third time in four years that Philadelphia has won the division title.

Philadelphia also holds a four-game lead in the American Conference, but must wait until their next game on Saturday, July 11 against the Gladiators to have a chance to clinch home-field advantage in the conference. 

MacPhail set to take over as Phillies team president

PHILADELPHIA - The worst kept secret in Major League Baseball was unveiled this afternoon when the Phillies officially appointed Andy MacPhail as the team's next president.

For now MacPhail, 62, will serve as a special assistant to current prez Pat Gillick for the remainder of the season.

Gillick will retire at season's end, leaving MacPhail to oversee the entire organization, both its business and baseball operations.

"I'm going to do everything I can to take advantage of the experience and intellect of the man on my left (Gillick), who is deservedly in the Hall of Fame," MacPhail said at an introductory press conference. "I'd be a fool if I were to ignore that advice."

MacPhail won two different World Series as general manager of the Minnesota Twins in 1987 and 1991 and also served as president for both the Chicago Cubs and Baltimore Orioles.

"I am very pleased to join the Phillies. I look forward to helping this organization bring championship caliber baseball back to Philadelphia. That is what the city and its terrific fans deserve," MacPhail said.

The Phillies currently have the worst record in MLB and Ryne Sandberg stepped down as manager last week with Pete Mackanin serving as interim manager. General manager Ruben Amaro Jr., meanwhile, is in the final season of his deal.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Flyers round out draft with additional selections

Even when it seemed obvious that depth on the front lines was needed within the Flyers organization, Ron Hextall and his brain trust elected to continue to shore up the back end during Day 2 of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft on Saturday.

The following are the remaining selections from rounds 3-7.

DRAFTED: 3rd Round (70th overall)
TEAM: Brynas, Jr. - Sweden
BORN: Gavle, Sweden
VITALS: 6’2”, 191-pounds

* Sandstrom is ranked third among all European goaltenders on NHL Central Scouting’s Final Rankings.

* He recorded a 2.63 goals-against average and .907 save percentage in 14 appearances for his junior team and also appeared in two games in the Swedish SuperElit pro league for Brynas, posting a 1.09 GAA and .963 save percentage in 55 minutes of action.

* Has international experience having played for Sweden in the World Junior Under-18 Championships and 2014 Ivan Hlinka Tournament.

MATEJ TOMEK (Goaltender)
DRAFTED: 3rd Round (90th overall)
TEAM: Topeka - NAHL
BORN: Bratislava, Slovakia
VITALS: 6’2”, 180-pounds

* Tomek won seven of his first eight outings with the RoadRunners in 2014-15 – a stretch that included four of his six shutouts – en route to a 24-7-2 record in 33 games and North American Hockey League Goaltender of the Year honors. He was among the League leaders in goals-against average (2nd: 1.83), shutouts (t-2nd: 6), save percentage (5th: .928) and wins (t-5th: 24) as a 17-year-old.

* He represented Slovakia at the 2014 Under-18 World Junior Championship, backstopping the club to its only victory with 23 saves in a 4-1 win over Germany.

* At 16 years old, Tomek played among men and was the youngest goaltender in Slovakia’s second division in 2013-14, finishing with a 2.39 goals-against average and .936 save percentage in 14 games. He also spent time with HK Poprad’s under-18 and under-20 teams in Slovakia’s junior leagues.

* Tomek has committed to the University of North Dakota for the fall of 2015.

 SAMUEL DOVE-McFALLS (Center/Left Wing)
DRAFTED: 4th Round (98th overall)
TEAM: Saint John - QMJHL
BORN: Montreal, Quebec, Canada
VITALS: 6’2”, 207-pounds

* Recorded 14 goals and 20 assists for 34 points in 66 games for Saint John in his second season in the QMJHL.

* He led the entire team in shots (151), while also recording a plus-12 rating, which ranked fourth on the team.

DRAFTED: 4th Round (104th overall)
TEAM: Tolpar Ufa - Russian Junior League
BORN: Ufa, Russia
VITALS: 6’2”, 198-pounds

* In 39 games for Tolpar, his first full season playing junior hockey, he posted eight goals and 20 points, while earning a plus-8 rating and added three goals in eight playoff games.

* He has international tournament experience as well, competing in the 2014 World Junior Under-18 Championships where he posted four points (1g-3a) in five games.

DAVID KASE (Center/Wing)
DRAFTED: 5th Round (128th overall)
TEAM: Chomutov, CZE
BORN: Kadan, Czech Republic
VITALS: 5’10”, 159-pounds

* Kase was part of Chomutov’s championship team in the Czech Republic’s Second League, registering 14 points (7g-7a) in 30 games.

* He also skated for Chomutov’s junior team in 2014-15, racking up 15 points (7g-8a) in just eight regular season games and adding another 12 points (5g-7a) in nine postseason contests.

* Kase has international experience as well, playing for the Czech team and earning silver medals at the 2014 Under-18 World Championship where he posted five points (3g-2a) in seve names… He served as team captain at the 2014 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament.

* A history of playing on championship teams, Kase was a member Chomutov’s junior squad that won the league title in 2013-14 (11-19—30 in 35 GP) and a member of their Under-16 team that won the Czech title in 2011-12 (27-38—65 in 29 GP).

* His brother, Ondrej, was selected 205th overall by the Anaheim Ducks in 2014 and his father, Robert, is a former professional player who served as head coach of Chomutov’s junior team in 2014-15.
COOPER MARODY (Right Wing/Center)
DRAFTED: 6th Round (158th overall)
TEAM: Sioux Falls, USHL
BORN: Brighton Michigan
VITALS: 6’0”, 173-pounds

* Committed to playing at the University of Michigan for the 2015-16 season.

* Coming off a career-high 19 goals, 28 assists for 47 points in 37 regular season games in his third season playing in the USHL.

* Recorded more points in his third season (47) than his previous two seasons combined (39).

IVAN  FEDOTOV (Goaltender)
DRAFTED: 7th Round (188th overall)
TEAM: Reaktor, Russian Junior League
BORN: St. Petersburg, Russia
VITALS: 6’8”, 192-pounds

* In 41 games played in his first full season of junior hockey, recorded a 1.95 GAA and .911 save percentage… He also appeared in one professional KHL game for Neftekhimik.

* He was also named Goaltender of the Month for November in the MHL (Russian Junior League).

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Union salvage a point in downpour at PPL Park

Maurice Edu
By John McMullen

Chester, PA (The Phanatic Magazine) - Maurice Edu scored the equalizer late in the second half as the Union escaped with a point against Montreal at a rainy PPL Park on Saturday night.

Holding a precarious 2-1 advantage thanks to former Union star Jack McInerney, Montreal faltered in the 75th minute when Impact goalkeeper Evan Bush stopped Fabinho's blast from distance but failed to corral the rebound with Edu on the doorstep.

The defender calmly slipped it by Bush for his first goal of the season in what turned out to be a 2-2 final.

"We needed a goal." Edu said. "We were all trying to get on the end of the set piece. It came out to Fabi, who did well to take a good shot and keep it on frame. I was just trying to follow up and pray that the goalie would make a mistake, which he did. He made the save and then it came out and I was there in the right place at the right time. It’s a credit to Fabi keeping that play alive."

Philadelphia (5-10-4, 19 points) nearly won it in the 83rd minute when Richie Marquez's header found the net but it was waived off when the Union were ruled offsides.

"A wild, game end to end," Union coach Jim Curtin said. "I thought we started the game well in the first 20-25 minutes. I thought we were good. We hit he goal, they came at us a little bit." 

The majority of the match was played in a hard, driving rain on the Delaware River.

"Were the conditions crazy? Yeah, absolutely and the field might not look like it from up high but the wind was incredibly strong in the first half, it kind of faded in the second half," Curtin said. "It was in our face in the first half. We didn’t get a chance to go with it because the weather changed a bit. Certainly a strange game in terms of weather."

Philadelphia took the early advantage in the eighth minute when Chaco Maidana's entry pass found C.J. Sapong, who tapped it back to the waiting Erik Ayuk and the youngster blasted it past Bush, finding the top-right corner.

The Impact (5-6-3, 18 points) evened things in the 28th minute when Union netminder Brian Sylvestre's defense let him down. Ignacio Piatti maneuvered in the middle of the pitch with little resistance from center backs Edu and Marquez. The extra space was all Piatti needed as he hit a curling ball from
the top of the box that easily beat Sylvestre on his left side.

"Piatti started to find space between our mid field and back line, obviously he’s a special player," Curtin said. "To see him now in our first game against them, he’s very good. He gets the goal for them kind of from nothing. He was the first shot they had on goal."

McInerney, one of the best goal scorers in Union history, put Montreal on top in the 70th minute when he easily circumvented Marquez to deposit one behind Sylvestre despite the fact the Impact was playing a man down after Patrice Bernier was sent off with his second yellow card in the 67th minute.

That advantage was wasted by the Union after Edu tied it, though, because Ayuk was sent off in the 77th minute with his second yellow card.

"There were obviously some great moments (with Ayuk), the goal," Curtin said. "He’s got to be smart playing on a yellow card, I thought we had a lot of momentum at that stage once we tie it up and had about 20 minutes to really press the game and create chances which we were doing all night. I saw the stats that they had 38 clearances inside the 18 so difficult that we didn’t get the goal but at the same time we dodged a bullet or two at the end."

Montreal's best chance to take the three points came in the 78th when Piatti found himself in front with a wide open net but slipped on the wet pitch and couldn't get it off.

Union Dues:

-Montreal, which had only scored four goals in seven road games coming in, has never won at PPL Park in MLS play, and is now 0-2-3 in Chester.

- The Union's substitutions were Andrew Wenger for Zach Pfeffer in the 57th minute, Fred for Brian Carroll in the 72nd and Sheanon Williams for Maidana in the 81st.

-The dismal forecast forced the Union to postpone their annual fireworks show to July 11 after the scheduled game that night against the Portland Timbers.

-Sapong had scored in four straight matches, tying the club record originally set by McInerney in 2012. McInerney, meanwhile, entered in the 60th minute as a substitution and is tied for the Impact's team lead with four goals this season.

-Veteran Union goal scorer Sebastien Le Toux remained sidelined for the third consecutive match with a knee sprain while MF Michael Lahoud (thigh), F Fernando Aristeguieta (leg), F Conor Casey (thigh) and D Steven Vitoria (hamstring) were also out.

-Williams was not in the starting lineup despite playing one of his best games of the season on Wednesday against Seattle. Raymon Gaddis replaced Williams which came off as rotating for the sake of rotating by Jim Curtin.

Sixers introduce Okafor

PHILADELPHIA - The latest centerpiece of Sam Hinkie's consistently pushed back rebuilding plan was unveiled Saturday at PCOM.

Big man Jahlil Okafor, the No. 3 overall pick  in Thursday's NBA draft, was introduced, along with the second-round selections that have a chance to see league action this season, Richaun Holmes and J.P. Tokoto.

The Duke product immediately affirmed he wasn't in Philadelphia to lose, something that has become second nature to the organization during Hinkie's tenure which has been built on tanking in order to acquire players like Okafor, a true low-post threat with the footwork of a 15-year veteran.

"Winning has always been my main focus," Okafor said. "I have always hated losing. I am a sore loser. I do not take losing well. I have always been about winning because I have been winning my entire life."

Winning will have to wait a little while here, however, as Hinkie continues to slowly add talent to a roster that was stripped bare and still lacks competent guards as well as wing players.

"I am excited to be here, and start winning some games," Okafor said. "I have already walked around the city. I can see that the fans are so excited and so enthusiastic. It makes you feel really good, and you can't imagine what it will be like when we start winning."

Like most upper echelon players in this draft, Okafor wanted nothing to do with the Sixers organization and an NBA source confirmed to The Phanatic Magazine that his agent, Bill Duffy, did call the team Thursday asking it not select his client.

Okafor and his father, who was at the introductory press conference, both denied that but the die is cast now and while Okafor would have preferred Los Angeles or New York, he's not the kind of kid who is going to sulk.

"No, we didn't do any of that," Okafor claimed when asked about his agent's maneuverings. "We were just trying to figure out where I was going to go. We raised the question that we didn't know which team I was going to end up with, but we knew Philadelphia was one of the possibilities."

Hextall pulls fast one, gets rid of Grossmann, Pronger contract

The   Philadelphia  Flyers completed their drafting on the second day in South Florida, but the fireworks were far from over.

Ron Hextall announced Saturday afternoon that the club acquired forward  Sam Gagner  and a conditional draft pick from the Arizona Coyotes. The best part, was what he had to jettison: defenseman Nicklas Grossmann and the retired Chris Pronger's remaining salary and its merciless cap hit.

Gagner,  25, played  just one season in Arizona, scoring 15 goals and totaling 41  points in 81 games. In his eight-season career for the Oilers and Coyotes, the  former No. 6  pick in the 2007 draft has posted 101 goals and 194 assists in 481 games.

The  conditional draft pick will be a fourth-round choice in the 2016 draft or a third-round selection in the 2017 draft.

Despite his acquisition, Hextall hedged quite a bit on the young man's future in Philadelphia when asked what his plans were. Gagner may be part of the next series of moves, which have been rumored to center around ridding themselves of Andrew MacDonald's contract or the actual body of RFA Luke Schenn.

If they keep the son of former NHLer Dave Gagner for next season, that would count $3.3 million on the cap which Hextall worked diligently to clear with this transaction.

"I honestly couldn't even give you a ballpark," the 25-year-old forward said on a conference call Sunday morning revealed in the Courier Post. "From the conversations I've had (with Flyers GM Ron Hextall), it's just trying to figure out where I fit against the cap. They said they like me as a player and they're gonna try and make it work, but in this league with the cap situation and everything like that, it's hard for me to say."

The  30-year-old Grossmann  blocked 89 shots in 68 games for Philadelphia last season,  and departs  the club  with  38 points  in 198  appearances. In  nine seasons  with the Stars and Flyers, he has played in 531 games while recording 10 goals and 79 points. Once a reliable, dependable presence on the blueline, the Swede became a plodding presence over the last two seasons and a change of scenery was necessary since he was clearly not part of the new, quick vanguard envisioned by Hextall on the back line. 

Pronger,  40,  has not played  since early in the  2011-12 season due to multiple injuries which ultimately led to post-concussion syndrome and had been working with the National Hockey League in an unofficial capacity to remove any doubt of CBA circumvention.

For  the  Coyotes, though, Pronger has  off-ice value. Although he is only due $525,000  per  season through the 2016-17,  he counts $4.9 million against the salary  cap  as the average annual  value of the seven-year contract he signed with the Flyers prior to the 2010-11 season.

Per  the current  Collective Bargaining  Agreement, all  teams' payrolls  must exceed $52.8 million for the upcoming season.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Flyers take Provorov, Konecny in first round

In an eventful first round of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft on Friday night in South Florida, the Philadelphia Flyers played largely against type.

They did managed to swing a trade, swapping out the 29th and 61st picks with the Toronto Maple Leafs to move up in the first round and select at No. 24, but there were no surprises and no lunkheads taken with either slot.

At No. 7, Hextall nabbed 18-year-old defenseman Ivan Provorov, whose first North American season was an unqualified success. The left-handed shooter compiled team highs for defensemen with 15 goals, 46 assists and 61 points over 60 games for the Brandon Wheat Kings.

Yes, it's a coincidence. Hextall was himself a Wheat King in juniors, while the second-best defenseman on the club in the 80s -- Brad McCrimmon -- was himself trained in Brandon. Adding to the serendipitous selection, is McCrimmon's brother Kelly is the Wheat Kings' current head coach.

Go ahead and acquaint yourself with the young Russian's accomplishments in the linked video.

Late in the first round, it was Travis Konecny, an 18-year-old, second-year pivot from the Ottawa 67s of the Ontario Hockey League.

Following a 70-point campaign in his first season playing for Canada's capital which netted him OHL Rookie of the Year honors, the London, ON native responded with 68 points (29G, 39A) over 60 regular-season appearances -- good enough for second in all three offensive categories.

At 5-foot-10, 175 pounds, Konecny is drawing comparisons to another smallish, competitive former Flyer in Danny Briere. Said by Hextall to possess the "heart of a lion," the youngster netted the E.J. McGuire Award of Excellence, given to a player who contributes in a significant manner to the community.

Take a gander at his season highlights by banging the link.

Ryne Sandberg steps down as Phillies manager

PHILADELPHIA - Ryan Sandberg has resigned as Phillies manager.

The Phillies currently own MLB's worst record at 26-48, a dismal mark which followed a 73-89 campaign and last-place finish in the National League East under Sandberg a year ago.

Third base coach Pete Mackanin will take over Sandberg's duties on an interim basis.

Sandberg finished with a 119-159 overall record since taking over for Charlie Manuel on August 16, 2013. The Hall of Fame Player was named the team's permanent manager on September 22 of that year.

Sixers get Okafor and little help in second round

The latest Sixers big man
PHILADELPHIA – The Sixers went the best player available route at No. 3 overall, taking 6-foot-11 big man Jahlil Okafor out of Duke.

The 272-pound Okafor was an early entry candidate following a standout freshman season with the Blue Devils where he helped lead the team to a 35-4 mark and the NCAA Championship. The 19-year-old  averaged 17.3 points, 8.5 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 1.4 blocks, and was selected as a consensus first-team All-American.

Additionally, Okafor was named the 2015 ACC Player of the Year and the USBWA 2015 National Freshman of the year, while also being selected as a finalist for the Wooden and Naismith National Player of the Year awards. He is also a three-time gold medal winner while playing for Team USA during the 2011 Under 16 FIBA Americas, the 2012 Under 17 World Championships and the 2013 Under 19 World Championships.

A fundamentally sound offensive player with the footwork of a veteran and huge hands, Okafor now becomes the so-called centerpiece in the Sam Hinkie rebuild which will now need to be pushed back yet another season because of the lack of guards and wing players on the Sixers' roster.

Okafor's presence also muddles the future of Joel Embiid, the former centerpiece who has yet to play a game for Philadelphia and recently had a setback in his attempt to recover from a stress fracture in the navicular bone in his right foot.

"I don't know," Okafor said when asked how he fits in with the Sixers. "It's not my job to figure out. I'll just go there and work as hard as I can."

The knocks on Okafor are his defense and rebounding, along with tepid free-throw shooting. That likely means Nerlens Noel is the keeper with Okafor because his defensive prowess will be key but nothing is ever certain with Hinkie.

The second round was a disappointment to most with Philadelphia garnering Bowling Green power forward Richaun Holmes with the 37th overall pick, Lithuanian stretch four Arturas Gudaitis with the 47th overall pick, North Carolina wingman J.P. Tokoto with the 58th overall pick and Serbian forward Luka Mitrovic with the 60th overall pick.

Additionally, the Sixers acquired the rights two future second round picks from the New York Knicks in exchange for the rights to the 35th pick, Spanish center Guillermo Hernangomez.

The Euro players were taken to stash and as the saying goes are probably two years away from being two years away.

The 6-10 Gudaitis has spent the past three seasons playing for Zalgiris in Lithuania’s LKL league. Last season he averaged 8.6 points and 4.8 rebounds in 57 total games, which included 21 starts.

Mitrovic averaged 9.7 points and 5.7 rebounds for Crvena Zvezda during the 2014-15 season, where the team won the Adriatic ABA League title. He has spent three seasons with Crvena Zvezda, where he played in 75 games in 2014-15, which included 60 starts.

Holmes was named MAC Defensive Player of the Year for Bowling Green  in addition to a first-team All-MAC selection. The 6-8 forward averaged 14.7 points, 8.0 rebounds and 2.7 blocks as a senior and recorded 244 career blocks to top the Falcons’ all-time list.

Tokoto spent three seasons at North Carolina, where he averaged 8.3 points, 5.6 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game as a junior in 2014-15. The 6-6 wing was selected first-team All-ACC Defensive Team for two consecutive seasons.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Temple extends Rhule

PHILADELPHIA  – Temple University  has extended the contract of head football coach Matt Rhule for four years, which will keep him as the leader of the Owls’ through the 2021 season.

"Matt Rhule is one of the best young coaches in college football and we are excited that he will be at the helm of Temple Football through at least 2021," Director of Athletics Dr. Patrick Kraft said. "Matt has the program heading in the right direction, especially as we enter a very promising season on the gridiron, and we are confident that he is the right person to take the program to even greater heights."

Rhule was hired as the Owls’ 26th head coach on Dec. 17, 2012, succeeding Steve Addazio and inheriting a team that went 4-7 in 2012. After a rough start in his first year as head coach, Rhule directed his team to a 2-4 record down the stretch in 2013 holding a lead in the fourth quarter of every game in the season’s final six contests. That improvement coincided with the development of true freshman quarterback P.J. Walker.

In 2014, Rhule led his troops to a bowl-eligible 6-6 record despite having just five seniors make major contributions. The Owls opened with a 37-7 victory at Vanderbilt giving Temple its first win against an SEC team in over 75 years.

Temple also posted a win against #21/19 East Carolina at Lincoln Financial Field marking just the third Owls’ victory over a ranked opponent and first since 1998. Early on the offense was strong highlighted by a 59-0 conquest over Delaware State which was the largest margin of victory by Temple in over 60 years. Throughout the season, the defense shined, finishing fourth in the nation allowing just 17.5 points-per-game.

“I am thrilled to sign this extension and to know that I will continue to lead the program into the future,” said Rhule. “I'm proud of our student athletes and all that they do and I look forward to continuing to lead and teach them for years to come.  Temple has been my family's home since 2006 and I am honored to be able to serve the university as its football coach.”

Rhule, 40, first came to Temple in 2006 as an assistant under Al Golden and held a myriad of roles coaching the defensive line, tight ends, quarterbacks, and offensive coordinator, as well as recruiting coordinator. He was a Temple assistant for six seasons, including two bowl teams and three bowl eligible clubs. He left the Owls in 2012 to become the assistant offensive line coach for the New York Giants before returning to North Broad to take the helm as the Owls head coach.

Rhule began his coaching career at Albright College in 1998 and also coached at the University of Buffalo (1999-2000), UCLA (2001), Western Carolina (2002-05) before coming to Temple.

Trust this process: Hinkie is done

By John McMullen

PHILADELPHIA - Russell? Okafor? Porzingis? Mudiay?

No matter what embattled Sixers general manager Sam Hinkie has up his sleeve on Thursday night, his three-card-monte act, which has turned one of the NBA's marquee franchises into a national embarrassment, has run its course.

We all understand the "Sons of Sam" will defend anything Hinkie puts his fingerprints on so arguing whether D'Angelo Russell has the necessary athleticism to turn into the sequel to Stephen Curry (he doesn't) or Jahlil Okafor can ever develop into a competent NBA defender (unlikely) or if Kristaps Porzingis is the next Dirk Nowitzki (please), is an exercise in futility.

Whomever Hinkie winds up with will be the logical decision to those tortured souls.

Sam Hinkie has a big problem

NBA general managers, though, do not perform their duties in a vacuum and, believe it or not, basketball will not even define Hinkie's failed stint in Philadelphia.

And it's so ironic that the elitists who parrot Hinkie's basketball philosophies and believe his process is a religion are the most obtuse of all, blissfully unaware that the most important news regarding the 2015 Sixers draft broke long before the event even started.

"There are agents that have told the 76ers not to draft their players," ESPN NBA insider Chris Broussard said on Mike and Mike this morning. "Because of the history of losing the last few years, trading away the rookie of the year Michael Carter-Williams after a great season.

"So, there are guys that do not want to play in Philadelphia."

Fellow ESPN reporter Jeff Goodman confirmed Broussard's take calling it "Absolutely true."

FOX's Howard Eskin has been reporting that at the local level for months but his general lack of credibility and personal disdain for Hinkie was all the cultists needed to ignore the warnings. And they can continue to do so at their own peril but two different agents e-mailed confirmation of Broussard's reporting to the Phanatic Magazine this afternoon.

If they had their druthers, virtually every power broker in basketball wants their clients anywhere but Philadelphia.

Russell, the consensus "it pick" for the few Sixers fans left, dispelled that to the diehards by playing public relations 101, claiming he didn't have a problem playing for Philadelphia in front of the microphones as his agent worked tirelessly behind the scenes to steer his client away from the City of Brotherly Love.

In fact the planted rumor that claims the Lakers are set on taking the former Ohio State star at No. 2 overall and had many Sixers devotees contemplating jumping off the Ben Franklin Bridge came directly from Russell's camp.

The hard truth is there is probably no transcendent player in this draft and the lone possibility will be calling Minneapolis home (Karl-Anthony Towns) so those worried about the repercussions on the floor between Russell and anyone else the Sixers might take are burying the lede.

You see the whole problem with #TrusttheProcess is that those blindly following the dogma are part of the same generation which has no interest in playing in Philadelphia.

To the Russells and Okafors of the world this is no longer the franchise of Wilt, the Kangaroo Kid, Dr. J, Moses, Charles and A.I. This is a barren wasteland where players are treated like disposable pieces in some kind of twisted lottery.

And the funny thing about human beings, no matter the generational differences they don't like being treated  that way.

Some might argue that's what professional sports is at its core. And guess what? They're right but optics and theater matter, and the great ones understand that ... Hinkie does not.

The real heavyweights in this sport have spoken and they want nothing to do with Sam Hinkie and the Philadelphia 76ers.

That's the process you've been trusting.

Eagles should look at Clemson OT Isaiah Battle in supplemental draft

PHILADELPHIA - Talented Clemson left tackle Isaiah Battle is set to enter the NFL supplemental draft next month, and the Eagles should have interest.

Most observers believe Battle is a third-round talent and another solid season in Death Valley could have vaulted the Brooklyn native into the first round conversation of the 2016 draft.

"Battle has terrific length on his 6-foot-6 frame and is quick to land hands on pass rushers to disrupt their attack," NFL Media draft expert Lance Zierlein said when discussing Battle's skill set.
Clemson OT Isaiah Battle

On the surface Philadelphia is set at the tackle position with All-Pro Jason Peters holding down the all-important left side and the ascending Lane Johnson, the No. 4 overall pick in '13. handling things at right tackle. Peters, however, is 33 and far closer to the end of his career than the beginning. Meanwhile, the team has penciled in veteran Allen Barbre as the replacement for Evan Mathis at left guard and Matt Tobin, a former undrafted free agent out of Iowa, as Todd Herremans' heir apparent at RG.

A talent upgrade would be welcomed on both sides of center Jason Kelce and Battle is the type of athlete who could easily slip inside while developing as the long-term replacement for Peters.

Of course Battle is expected to have plenty of other suitors also, most notably Denver, who recently lost LT Ryan Clady to a season-ending ACL injury, and perhaps Atlanta, which just parted ways with the oft-injured tackle Sam Baker.

Battle claims he is entering the supplemental draft due to personal reasons but some close to the Clemson program believe he was on the verge of being kicked off the team for a third rules violation. Battle served a suspension in 2013 after punching a player, and another last season after being caught with marijuana when pulled over for speeding in June.

"I have some family matters to address, with a child due this summer, and I feel it is in my best interest to enter the NFL Supplemental Draft," Battle said. "I want to thank everyone at Clemson, especially Coach (Dabo) Swinney and the assistant coaches, for what they have done for me the last three years. I also want to thank my teammates. They have all had a big impact on my career."

That career included 16 games started for the Tigers, including 11 last season.

On the surface Battle, who will be joined in the supplemental draft by a pair of West Georgia defensive linemen, pass rusher Darrius Caldwell and tackle  Dalvon Stuckey, as well as  North Carolina Central receiver Adrian Wilkins, doesn't seem like a "culture fit" for Chip Kelly but if a talent like this drops to the late-round range, it's worth rolling the dice.

Flyers announce full 2015-16 schedule

New Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol now has a complete course to chart for his first season as an NHL head coach, with the revelation of the full 2015-16 schedule on Thursday.

For the first time, Philadelphia will open up a season on the road along Florida's Gulf Coast, and will see its first home opener against the Panthers since Jeremy Roenick made his debut in orange and black in October of 2001.

Below is the full schedule matrix. Home matinees in boldface.

Thu Oct 8 Flyers Lightning
7:30 PM  
Sat Oct 10 Flyers Panthers
7:00 PM  
Mon Oct 12 Panthers Flyers
7:00 PM

Wed Oct 14 Blackhawks Flyers
8:00 PM
Tue Oct 20 Stars Flyers
7:00 PM

Wed Oct 21 Flyers Bruins
8:00 PM  
Sat Oct 24 Rangers Flyers
7:00 PM

Tue Oct 27 Sabres Flyers
7:00 PM

Thu Oct 29 Devils Flyers
7:00 PM

Fri Oct 30 Flyers Sabres
7:00 PM  

Mon Nov 2 Flyers Canucks
10:00 PM  
Tue Nov 3 Flyers Oilers
9:00 PM  
Thu Nov 5 Flyers Flames
9:00 PM  
Sat Nov 7 Flyers Jets
7:00 PM  
Tue Nov 10 Avalanche Flyers
7:00 PM

Thu Nov 12 Capitals Flyers
7:00 PM

Sat Nov 14 Flyers Hurricanes
7:00 PM

Tue Nov 17 Kings Flyers
7:00 PM

Thu Nov 19 Sharks Flyers
7:00 PM

Sat Nov 21 Flyers Senators
7:00 PM

Mon Nov 23 Hurricanes Flyers
7:00 PM

Wed Nov 25 Flyers Islanders
7:00 PM

Fri Nov 27 Predators Flyers 3:00 PM

Sat Nov 28 Flyers Rangers
1:00 PM 

Tue Dec 1 Flyers Senators
7:30 PM

Fri Dec 4 Flyers Devils
7:00 PM

Sat Dec 5 Blue Jackets Flyers
7:30 PM

Tue Dec 8 Islanders Flyers
7:00 PM

Thu Dec 10 Flyers Blues
8:00 PM

Fri Dec 11 Flyers Stars
8:30 PM

Tue Dec 15 Hurricanes Flyers
7:00 PM

Thu Dec 17 Canucks Flyers
7:00 PM

Sat Dec 19 Flyers Blue Jackets
7:00 PM

Mon Dec 21 Blues Flyers
7:00 PM

Sun Dec 27 Flyers Ducks
8:00 PM  
Wed Dec 30 Flyers Sharks
10:30 PM  

Sat Jan 2 Flyers Kings
4:00 PM

Tue Jan 5 Canadiens Flyers
7:00 PM

Thu Jan 7 Flyers Wild
8:00 PM

Sat Jan 9 Islanders Flyers 1:00 PM

Wed Jan 13 Bruins Flyers
8:00 PM

Sat Jan 16 Rangers Flyers 1:00 PM

Sun Jan 17 Flyers Red Wings
7:30 PM

Tue Jan 19 Maple Leafs Flyers
7:00 PM

Thu Jan 21 Flyers Penguins
7:00 PM

Sat Jan 23 Flyers Islanders
7:30 PM

Mon Jan 25 Bruins Flyers
7:00 PM

Wed Jan 27 Flyers Capitals
8:00 PM  

Tue Feb 2 Canadiens Flyers
7:00 PM

Thu Feb 4 Flyers Predators
8:00 PM

Sat Feb 6 Rangers Flyers 1:00 PM

Sun Feb 7 Flyers Capitals
12:00 PM

Tue Feb 9 Ducks Flyers
7:00 PM

Thu Feb 11 Sabres Flyers
7:00 PM

Sat Feb 13 Devils Flyers 1:00 PM

Sun Feb 14 Flyers Rangers
7:30 PM

Tue Feb 16 Flyers Devils
7:00 PM

Fri Feb 19 Flyers Canadiens
7:30 PM

Sat Feb 20 Flyers Maple Leafs
7:00 PM

Tue Feb 23 Flyers Hurricanes
7:00 PM

Thu Feb 25 Wild Flyers
7:00 PM

Sat Feb 27 Coyotes Flyers 1:00 PM

Mon Feb 29 Flames Flyers
7:00 PM

Thu Mar 3 Oilers Flyers
7:00 PM

Sat Mar 5 Blue Jackets Flyers
7:00 PM

Mon Mar 7 Lightning Flyers
7:00 PM

Fri Mar 11 Flyers Lightning
7:30 PM

Sat Mar 12 Flyers Panthers
7:00 PM

Tue Mar 15 Red Wings Flyers
7:00 PM

Wed Mar 16 Flyers Blackhawks
8:00 PM

Sat Mar 19 Penguins Flyers 1:00 PM

Mon Mar 21 Flyers Islanders
7:00 PM  
Tue Mar 22 Flyers Blue Jackets
7:00 PM  
Thu Mar 24 Flyers Avalanche
9:00 PM  
Sat Mar 26 Flyers Coyotes
10:00 PM  
Mon Mar 28 Jets Flyers
7:00 PM
Wed Mar 30 Capitals Flyers
8:00 PM

Sat Apr 2 Senators Flyers 1:00 PM
Sun Apr 3 Flyers Penguins
3:00 PM  
Wed Apr 6 Flyers Red Wings
8:00 PM

Thu Apr 7 Maple Leafs Flyers
7:00 PM

Sat Apr 9 Penguins Flyers 3:00 PM

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Williams stars as Union edge Seattle

Union and Sounders battle at PPL Park
By John McMullen

Chester, PA (The Phanatic Magazine) - A night's worth of frustration evaporated in one brilliant sequence Wednesday as Sheanon Williams lofted a beautiful entry pass which found the head of C.J. Sapong in the 70th minute to lift the Philadelphia Union to a 1-0 win over Seattle at PPL Park.

"The amount of headballs that C.J. wins is somewhat incredible. He’s a monster so you just loft it up and let him go get it," Williams said.

It was the team-leading sixth goal of the season for Sapong as the Union avoided what has become a rather tired cliche for Philadelphia's MLS side, the squandering of multiple opportunities en route to losing matches they've dominated.

The triumph was also a bit of revenge for Philly, which suffered a heartbreaking loss in the 2014 US Open Cup title game the last time the Sounders visited PPL Park, a setback many believe sent the Union into their current spiral which has resulted in their dismal 5-10-3 record (18 points).

Philadelphia goalkeeper Bryan Sylvestre did not see a shot on goal until the 83rd minute as he recorded his fourth clean sheet of the season as the Union bounced back from one of their most lopsided losses in the club's history, a 5-1 road setback to the Los Angeles Galaxy. His counterpart, Sounders netminder Stefan Frei was spectacular in a losing cause for Seattle (9-6-2).

" Important bounce back from what was an awful performance in LA," Philadelphia coach Jim Curtin said. "I think the guys put a lot into the game, were we perfect on the night, absolutely not, but the guys stuck with it you know, Sheanon puts a good ball in and C J makes a big plan at a time where we needed one."

The Union dominated the first half with three legitimate scoring opportunities.

Things started to heat up in the 18th minute when Sapong, Philly's top sniper, found himself in space at the top of the box but fired a shot just wide of the near post.

The Sounders, who were playing a very young lineup, really felt the pressure moments later when three consecutive corner kicks and a great throw-in by Williams had Seattle wilting. Williams' toss in the 28th minute found Maurice Edu, who put it home but the goal was waived off due to a foul on Andrew Wenger.

In the 32nd minute Edu had an even better chance on the Union's first penalty kick of the season garnered when Seattle's Dylan Remick caught Wenger in the face with a high kick in a scrum caused by yet another terrific Williams throw-in. Edu, a defender, telegraphed his attempt, however, and Frei made the diving save before popping up and snaring the rebound.

Overall the Union had a 53 to 47 percent possession advantage in the first 45-plus minutes, a 5-0 edge in corner kicks and the only two shots on net.

The near misses continued in the final frame when Cristian Mariana's blast from distance in the 56th minute just missed the top left corner. Moments later a Wenger cross in the 59th found the net and Frei steered it away.

In the 62nd a streaking Sapong played a great ball to sub Eric Ayuk, who slid for it and nearly put it home.

The barrage finally got to Frei in the 70th and this Union were able to hold a more aggressive Seattle team off in the waning moments.

"That’s playing together enough and finally getting the timing right," Sapong said of his game-winner. "I think we’ve been looking for it all season and it finally clicked."

"I thought we did alright," Seattle coach Sigi Schmid said. "I thought we played a lot of young players, in essence. A lot of youth out there so we wanted to play well defensively. Stefan Frei kept us in the game with the penalty kick save. I thought we did alright defensively. We were too loose on the goal, obviously, and then we had some chances at the other end but the final passes, the final play, makes it difficult so with all the players that were missing."

Union Dues:

-Williams throw-ins continue to be one of the Union's best offensive weapon. The defender is the Brett Favre of MLS, capable of distance and accuracy no other player in the league can match.

-Veteran goal scorer Sebastien Le Toux never misses on penalty kicks but wasn't even dressed for the second consecutive match due to injury. Edu is regarded as the Union's best overall player but choosing him to take the PK over a proven finisher like Sapong was a big mistake by Jim Curtin.

-Seattle has never won at PPL Park in MLS play, falling to 0-2-2 in Chester.

-This was the only league meeting scheduled for the two distant foes this season.

-Attendance was 18,072, just shy of a sellout.