Know the Dynamo: Playoff Opposition Report - Q&A With a Dynamo Blogger

Know the Dynamo: Playoff Opposition Report - Q&A With a Dynamo Blogger

The Union will play their first ever playoff game on Sunday at 5:00 p.m. against the Houston Dynamo. In anticipation of the game I reached out to Zach Woosley, Managing Editor of Dynamo Theory, for some insight into the Union's playoff opponent. We touched on a number of topics, including a Dynamo scouting report, an out of market view of the Union team and organization, and a series prediction. Many thanks to Zach for his time.

For those Union fans who have not seen a whole lot of the Dynamo this season, what's their biggest strength? Their biggest weakness? What sort of tempo do they want to play?

Zach Woosley, Dynamo Theory: The Dynamo's biggest strength is experience. Despite the roster turnover in the offseason, there are still plenty of veterans on this team that have been through cup runs and understand what it takes to win in the playoffs, the question becomes is that experience enough to overcome the fact that this team tends to make glaring defensive mistakes. In some games, Tally Hall or luck has saved them from those mistakes, but in others they've had no such luck and paid the price. As for tempo, expect a grinding, physical style of play. The Dynamo won't push, speed isn't their game. Instead, they'll try to hold possession and pick their spots, especially on the road in the first leg.

The Dynamo are unbeaten over their last six games? What's been the key to their recent success?

Offensive consistency. The Dynamo have struggled to get goals most of the year but down the stretch they've been scoring more and in most cases, scoring first. It's a huge advantage for Houston when they can get on the scoreboard and then dictate the game rather than trying to chase it. In addition, the defense has been better in the final six games, limiting the mistakes that have plagued them most of the year. A settled back line has a lot to do with that I'm sure.

The Union are 2-0-2 all-time against the Dynamo. What makes you think Houston can break through over these next two games?

Because it's the playoffs and if we've learned one thing about the postseason in MLS, it's that trends rarely hold and the unexpected always happens. This Dynamo team is peaking at the right time as well and I've always stressed that the key to winning an MLS Cup is to be playing your best soccer in October, which Houston is doing. That said, this will be a tough series and no one is over looking the Union at all. Having the second leg at home helps as well since the Dynamo have played immensely better all season at Robertson on the smaller, cramped for space pitch.

It's always interesting to hear the thoughts and opinions of someone outside your home market. What are your thoughts on the Union (the team and the franchise)?

The Union are one of the bright spot franchises in the league. Seattle and Portland get a lot of praise, and rightly so, but the things being done in Philly by both the team and the Sons of Ben are impressive. More impressive is the fact that as a second-year team in the league, the Union not only made the playoffs but nearly won the Eastern Conference. Between the stadium, the fan support and the commitment from the FO to putting forth a quality product, there's a lot to like about the Union.

Dynamo midfielder Brad Davis has had an unbelievable season (he led all of MLS with 16 assists). Why should he be named MLS MVP? Also, what's he have to do to get Jurgen Klinsmann to call him into a USMNT camp?

Brad Davis is the MVP. Period. It's not a shot against any of the other great players this season in MLS but there is zero doubt in my mind that if you remove Davis from the Dynamo, they do not make the playoffs. He started every game, had a career year with 16 assist and was involved is a ridiculous percentage of the Dynamo's goals and goal scoring opportunities. He may not be the flashiest player, but there is no question he was the single most valuable player to his team this season. As for a USMNT call-up, it's absurd he hasn't gotten a sniff in recent years. He's consistently one of the best American wide midfielders and deserves a chance to prove it at the international level.

Give us a few players, other than Davis, who we should keep an eye on over these two games.

Carlo Costly. The big powerful Honduran forward finally scored against the Galaxy in the season finale. We've been waiting for that goal and with the weight of that off his shoulders, look out. A confident and fired up Costly could reak havoc in the playoffs. Also keep an eye on Tally Hall, when he's on his game (which he often is), he can completely shut down a team and drive them crazy at the same time with some amazing saves. Finally, Adam Moffat. Don't leave our defensive midfielder on the ball in space from 35-45 yards away from your goal, his long range shot is powerful and ridiculously accurate...just ask Portland and LA.

How do you see this two-game set playing out? Give us a winner and the final aggregate scoreline.

I think the first leg will be ugly and physical, the Dynamo will be happy to leave PPL Park with a draw and try to wrap things up at home. I expect them to sit back and look for chances to exploit the Union defense, but they won't be overly aggressive and risk leaving an opening at the back that can be exploited. If they can accomplish that, the second leg will be all about the Dynamo utilizing their home field advantage and trying to score early to put all the pressure on the Union. Call me crazy, but I think the Dynamo win the tie 3-1.

Thanks to Zach for dropping some Dynamo knowledge on us. Vist his site here.

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

Zach Ertz making significant strides after offseason work with Carson Wentz

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USA Today Images

Zach Ertz making significant strides after offseason work with Carson Wentz

The same Zach Ertz who's never had more than four touchdowns in a season now leads all NFL tight ends in touchdown catches. With four.

It's all part of the natural evolution between Ertz and Carson Wentz.

Ertz shares the NFL TD catch lead among tight ends with the Buccaneers' Cameron Brate and the Patriots' Rob Gronkowski.

And going back to last year, Ertz has six touchdown catches in his last seven games and eight in his last 13 games.

In his previous 40 games? He had five touchdown catches.

“I think it's just all the offseason work with Carson," Ertz said. "I think the coaches have a lot of confidence in me down there, and I think that stems from all the red-zone emphasis that we had all spring and summer.

"And then I’ve just made plays, the offensive line has held up, I think Carson is putting the ball in amazing spots, and I just go up and get the ball. I have the easy part."

Ertz had TD catches to give the Eagles 14-0 leads against the Giants and Cards and then caught two last Thursday that turned a 10-3 deficit into an 18-10 lead as the Eagles beat the Panthers in Charlotte.

He's the first Eagles tight end with four TD catches through six games since Pete Pihos in 1955.

“The biggest thing is A) He puts in the work and B) He’s a really intelligent football player," Wentz said. "He knows coverages, recognizes things, knows when he’s hot (on a blitz).

"He’s really kind of in my head. He knows when I’m about to change his route, those types of things. With a guy like that, that knows how to create separation and play on time and be on the same page as me, that makes it tough to stop."

The touchdowns are most notable, but Ertz is off to the best start of his career in every category. His 34 catches and 405 yards are both second-most among all NFL tight ends to Travis Kelce's 37 and 423 (in seven games).

The Eagles, 5-1, face the 3-2 Redskins Monday night at the Linc. Ertz already has 54 career receptions against the Redskins – third-most ever by a tight end.

“It’s just Year 2 in this system," he said. "I’m a lot more comfortable in my role this year as opposed to last year. I was hurt, missed two games, and I was slowly integrated back into the gameplan.

"I think this year I’m extremely confident in my role, I think they have the confidence in me to go out there and make plays when my number’s called, and it’s not going to be 10 targets every game. Last week it was two targets, 20 yards. It’s going to vary each and every week but I’m very happy with how they’re using me right now."

Ertz and Nelson Agholor are the first Eagles tandem with four touchdown catches each through six games since Fred Barnett and Calvin Williams each had four back in 1992.

The red zone was a point of emphasis this offseason, and Wentz's numbers in the red zone are off the charts – 62 percent completion percentage, nine touchdowns, no interceptions and a 112.8 passer rating, fourth-highest in the NFL.

Ertz is third in the NFL with five red-zone first-down catches and fourth in the NFL with both six red-zone receptions and 49 yards.

“It’s timing," Wentz said. "It’s a timing thing and being on the same page.

"Red zone’s all about making plays. Playmakers making plays and playing on time down there is so crucial and that’s something we’ve really focused on. I think we’ve gotten better at all our spots on playing on time but he’s a guy that we feel creates mismatches and we take advantage of them."