The Keon Daniel enigma: Are the Philadelphia Union winning games because of him or in spite of him?

The Keon Daniel enigma: Are the Philadelphia Union winning games because of him or in spite of him?

It’s not very often you see a coach respond to a blog on Twitter. But earlier this week, Philadelphia Union assistant Jim Curtin felt compelled to do so when The Philly Soccer Page (by far, the best Union blog out there) posted a piece on the team’s midfield woes.

His reason: to defend oft-maligned midfielder Keon Daniel.

The tweets have since been deleted but Curtin’s main point was a good one. Simply put, the Union are winning when Daniel plays and losing when he doesn’t.

The stats: The Union are 8-3-4 in games when Daniel starts (4-0-1 since the start of June), 1-2-1 in games when he comes on as a sub, and 1-2-3 in games in which he hasn’t played at all.

Now, it’s true that you can’t necessarily correlate wins with the inclusion of one player in an 11-man starting lineup. And it’s also true that some of the games Daniel didn’t play in were also games that leading scorer Jack McInerney missed because of the Gold Cup.

But is there still something to those stats? Could Daniel be a lot more valuable than some fans might think?

The detractors say that Daniel is not an offensive threat, that he lacks creativity in the box and that he should have a lot more than one assist and zero goals through 1,398 minutes from his central “attacking” midfield position. And they say it loudly and often – and in a lot more places than on The Philly Soccer Page.

But there are some Daniel defenders out there that marvel at his technical ability and the fact that he successfully completes so many of his passes. And manager John Hackworth, while admitting that Daniel sometimes falls back too much, often notes that the polarizing Trinidadian has remarkable skill on the ball.

For what it’s worth, Daniel seems to be most comfortable dropping back into a more of a holding midfielder role alongside captain Brian Carroll, which you could argue has helped the team’s defense and distribution. But is having just two strikers and two wing players enough of an attacking presence (especially when one of those wing players is another maligned player - Danny Cruz – that’s far from a proficient finisher)? Would the Union be better off if they started a player in Daniel’s spot that can defend, distribute and create goals?

The truth is, the Union probably don’t have a true box-to-box midfielder who can fill all of those roles. So until they get one, is Daniel the best bet to start in the central midfield? Is Curtin correct in his assertion that the Union are winning games because of him? Or could do they be doing so in spite of him?

While you ponder these questions, please enjoy this video of Daniel’s central midfield partner acting like the subdued captain that he is while mic’d up during a recent game.

NBC Sports Philadelphia Internship - Advertising/Sales

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NBC Sports Philadelphia Internship - Advertising/Sales

Position Title: Intern
Department: Advertising/Sales
Company: NBC Sports Philadelphia
# of hours / week: 10 – 20 hours

Deadline: November 20

Basic Function

This position will work closely with the Vice President of Sales in generating revenue through commercial advertisements and sponsorship sales. The intern will gain first-hand sales experience through working with Sales Assistants and AEs on pitches, sales-calls and recapping material.

Duties and Responsibilities

• Assist Account Executive on preparation of Sales Presentations
• Cultivate new account leads for local sales
• Track sponsorships in specified programs
• Assist as point of contact with sponsors on game night set up and pre-game hospitality elements.
• Assist with collection of all proof of performance materials.
• Perform Competitive Network Analysis
• Update Customer database
• Other various projects as assigned

Requirements

1. Good oral and written communication skills.
2. Knowledge of sports.
3. Ability to work non-traditional hours, weekends & holidays
4. Ability to work in a fast-paced, high-pressure environment
5. Must be 19 years of age or older
6. Must be a student in pursuit of an Associate, Bachelor, Master or Juris Doctor degree
7. Must have unrestricted authorization to work in the US
8. Must have sophomore standing or above
9. Must have a 3.0 GPA

Interested students should apply here and specify they're interested in the ad/sales internship.

About NBC internships

Redskins RB thinks Eagles fans are mean (but maybe a little clever too)

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Redskins RB thinks Eagles fans are mean (but maybe a little clever too)

There's never any love lost between NFC East rivals so this Monday's much-anticipated contest between the Philadelphia Eagles and Washington Redskins is sure to bring plenty of chatter to go along with some exciting football.

Philly's reputation often precedes it and there was some new fuel added to that fire on Wednesday when Washington running back Chris Thompson said some inflammatory -- or complimentary, depending how you look at it -- things about our city's thoughtful fans.

Thompson was a guest on ESPN 980 this morning and said he's anxious to play the Eagles in Philly because they're one of the best teams in the NFL. But also for other reasons.

From the Washington Post:

“Philly fans are some of the meanest fans I’ve ever experienced, too,” he said, “so I’m excited about that as well.”

Host Bram Weinstein then asked for any favorite tales, and Thompson obliged.

“You see a lot of the players pregame when we run out of the tunnel, guys just go pray or whatever in the end zone,” Thompson said. “And [two years ago] I went and prayed in the end zone, and one of the [fans] told me, he was like ‘God’s not gonna help you today.’ And I was like oh, shoot. I heard it while I was praying. I was like dang, all right, that’s a little harsh.”

Harsh. But fair!

On a serious note, Thompson also said he's not planning on bringing his family to Philly for the game.

“I heard that’s the one stadium you keep your family from going to,” Thompson told Weintstein. “My family will be here this week, and they were like ‘I want to come to the Philly game.’ I said absolutely not, you’re gonna have to wait until Dallas comes around. Because my step dad, he’s a big guy. And if he starts fighting, It’ll be real bad out there. I was told that right away my rookie year: keep your family away.”

Now, I can't say I disagree entirely. But not just with Eagles games in Philly. NFL games in general are most certainly not a family friendly environment. Every other week there's a video of an incident from Carolina or San Francisco or any other stadium around the country of fans acting in ways that are incredibly unfriendly to a family environment.

I took my now wife to her first Eagles game three seasons ago. We sat in the club level where I joked (kinda) that she wouldn't see any of the infamous rowdy behavior. That was before one of the largest brawls I've ever seen broke out with guys tumbling down row after row. And that was Eagles-fan-on-Eagles-fan violence.