Matchday 4: The Return of Le Toux

Matchday 4: The Return of Le Toux

It's really a perfect storm for a third-year franchise facing the first real crisis of fan confidence. A tumultuous offseason has been followed by a nightmare 0-3 start. Now, needing a win in the worst way, the most popular and productive player in franchise history returns to the stadium where he became a beloved figure - his new team undefeated and atop the MLS Western Conference table.
Putting the Le Toux drama aside for a moment, the reality is that the Union is desperate to pick up the three points today against Vancouver (4PM/6ABC). This is a team attempting to integrate a new first choice keeper, a new left back who has at times looked overmatched, a new and possibly redundant holding midfielder and two forwards new to MLS. Rationally, in light of all the changes we knew the team would likely struggle at the outset. It's not so much that they've begun the 2012 campaign 0-3 - it's how they've gone about it.
They've looked disorganized in the back. Zac MacMath has made multiple game-changing mistakes. Porfirio Lopez has struggled (and that's being kind). Brian Carroll and Gabriel Gomez, two similar players, have not figured out how to work together. Aside from a brief spell against Colorado (who was playing a man down) the midfield has been non-existent. Although Lionard Pajoy has played fairly well, the forwards as a whole have failed to finish their chances.
This is not to say that the team as currently constituted is destined to finish at the bottom of the table. They've yet to develop an identity. The new acquisitions are getting acclimated to a new league. Two presumed starters (Freddy Adu and Sheanon Williams) have spent time away from the club with the US U-23's. It's an incredibly long season. There's a ton of time to right the ship. It'd just be nice to start seeing some positive signs.
The good news is that for the most part Peter Nowak will have a full, healthy side at his disposal. Adu, who played a ton of minutes with the U-23's last week, likely will not start, but may be in the game day 18. Danny Califf, who has not played the last two weeks, should be fit and ready to rejoin the back line. Speaking of that back line, anyone else in favor of Nowak returning to a back four? I know I am.
As mentioned, Vancouver comes to town undefeated (2-0-1). Much has been written about their attacking options, but their early success has been a result of a defense yet to concede a goal. Goalkeeper Joe Cannon has recorded two of those three clean sheets. Former US international Jay DeMerit is the linchpin of the Whitecaps back line.
The Union will catch a break as Whitecaps forward Eric Hassli, who is nursing an ankle injury, did not make the trip. However, they will have to deal with the tireless running of Sebastien Le Toux. Seba, who scored in his first appearance for Vancouver, will be beyond motivated to show the Union brain trust that they made a major mistake in letting him go.
How will Le Toux be received? I don't think there's any question he'll be given a hero's welcome by the PPL Park faithful. However, once the game kicks off he'll be treated as any opposing player would. The will he or won't he shake Nowak's hand is a petty sideshow. Granted, Peter Nowak has not handled the Le Toux situation all that well himself, but he was right when he stated that no one player is bigger than the club
This is a must-win game for the Union. They are playing at home, against a team who has traveled across the continent, in what is sure to be a charged atmosphere. If Danny Mwanga is ever going to be motivated to perform it'll be today on the same field as Le Toux - the player he's replaced.
It should be a fantastic atmosphere at PPL Park this afternoon. The Union has 90 minutes to make a statement.
Starting Lineup I'd Like to See: MacMath, Williams, Califf, Carlos Valdes, G. Farfan, Carroll, M. Farfan, Gomez, Torres, Daniel, Mwanga, Pajoy.
Final Score Prediction: Mercifully, the Union earn its first point of the season with a 1-1 draw.

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

Sixers Notes: Eager for rowdy opener; Joel Embiid talks back-to-backs

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Sixers Notes: Eager for rowdy opener; Joel Embiid talks back-to-backs

CAMDEN, N.J. — The Sixers first home game is Friday night, and if their season opener in Washington, D.C. was any indication of the fans’ excitement level, the Wells Fargo Center will be rowdy. 

Sixers fans traveled to the Capital One Arena on Wednesday and started a “Trust the Process” chant less than a minute into the game, much to the dismay of the Wizards crowd.

That enthusiasm and loyalty was not lost on the players. They are ready to feed off the vibe at the Wells Fargo Center when they host the Celtics. 

“First of all, Philly fans are passionate and I love that about them,” Joel Embiid said. “Just me going out there, playing hard and making plays just to get them off their seat and cheer and yell and just go crazy, I just love that type of atmosphere. It gets me going, too.”

Some players block out the noise from the stands, especially if they aren’t hitting their shots. Embiid, though, wants to hear the support and repay it on the court. 

“If I miss foul shots and then they’re cheering, I know that the next play I’ve got to do better,” he said. “I’ve got to make a crazy block or I’ve got to make a crazy play to get them going. Then that gets me going too because I love the excitement. Since I’ve been in Philly, I’ve embraced it and I just love it.”

The players don’t want the fans to hold back, either. Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot has played in intense game environments overseas and welcomes the high energy in Philadelphia. 

“Here, whenever you go in the street, people call your name, cheer for you,” Luwawu-Cabarrot said. “During the game, it gets you going. The crazier they are, the better you feel and the better you’re going to play. It’s the best thing.”

Brett Brown always has emphasized the responsibility he feels to give the crowd a quality product. He reiterated that doing his job well is on his mind every game. For the first time in his tenure, Brown can debut a roster constructed with direction and a foundation.

“I’m confident and comfortable with what we’ve built, that we can deliver this year’s team to a court knowing that the base is there, there are people we really like and see as part of the future,” he said. 

Fans at the home opener will receive a t-shirt with caricatures of Brown, Embiid, Ben Simmons, Robert Covington, JJ Redick, Markelle Fultz and Dario Saric on it. 

 

The team also is launching the PhilaFanGram camera system that fans can use to take photos with a specially-designed Sixers-themed filter. 

Back-to-backs for Embiid?
Embiid is awaiting word from the medical staff to hear if he will be cleared for back-to-back games. Following Friday's game against the Celtics, the Sixers travel to Toronto the play the Raptors on Saturday. 

"Yesterday I played and my body feels great today," Embiid said. "My knee feels amazing. I feel like if I had to play today, I feel like I would play depending on how I feel. But I feel like I’m ready."

Embiid was held out of consecutive games last season.