Okugo is Driving the Union, So Its Time to Let Him Run Wild

Okugo is Driving the Union, So Its Time to Let Him Run Wild

Any coach or manager not looking to get fired would
be as hands-off as possible with a player on a hot streak (or in nerdy
British soccer terms: a “rich vein of form”).

I’m here to argue the exact opposite.

Even a novice soccer evaluator could have told you
who the best player in blue was during last week’s Union win in Colorado.
Amobi Okugo not only scored a perfect header, but he was
all over the field on both ends. He helped neutralize the Rapids’
attack – including a potential goal-saving clearance at one point
– and provided some poise when the game got sloppy, which seemed to
be nearly all the time.

So, not-so-logically, I think he should change positions.

Okugo has been playing as a central defender since
last year, now playing alongside newcomer Jeff Parke. But he is a natural
midfielder, and has proven it by often sliding farther forward to help
play the ball out of the back and keep possession.

Captain Brian Carroll starts in the defensive midfielder
position, and there still could be a spot for him of Okugo was moved
forward. But Carroll has not played well the first two weeks, and Okugo
could have even more influence over the game as a midfielder, without
having to worry about holding a line next o Parke.

Enter Bakary Soumare – unless your name is John
Hackworth, who seems to have forgotten the high-priced central defender
he signed with his first post-Peter Nowak move last season.

I don’t pretend to know what happens in every training
session – maybe he’s just not jelling with Parke or learning
the system – but Soumare’s health is clearly not an issue anymore.
Not only was he dressed and on the bench last week, he was
called up this week to the Mali National Team for a World Cup qualifying
match against Rwanda on March 22
(he will only miss
next Saturday’s friendly against Pumas (Mexico) at PPL Park).

No matter what is going on between Soumare and Hackworth
behind the scenes, it’s time we all at least got a look at the 6-foot-4
defender in some live action. If he fails miserably, then so be it.
It’ll just be another notch on the list of bad signings/trades/draft
picks. But if Soumare can play beside Parke in the back (and a left
back option better than Ray Gaddis can be found), the Union could slowly
get back to the staunch defense that was the lone bright spot in 2012.

It would also allow Okugo to play farther upfield,
either alongside Carroll or by himself, where his abilities would be
better used. He’s poised on the ball, a pinpoint passer (something
Carroll has struggled with mightily in the first two games), and seems
to understand the right moment to join the attack. Not to mention that
his headed goal last week proved that he also might
be the team’s best aerial threat.

It’s time for the Union to recognize what they have
in Okugo – a player who has to be on the shortlist for a United States
call-up for this summer’s Gold Cup – and adjust the rest of the
lineup accordingly. If that means a veteran like Carroll has to adjust,
or even come off the bench when Hackworth wants to play a more attacking
formation, then so be it.

When 3 Points are More than 3 Points

As I mentioned, last week’s win was ugly. Both goals
were nice, but the Union never really had much possession or control
of the game.

But for a fanbase tired of moral victories, it was
nice to get a real one, especially on the road. The way the Union won
should also inspire confidence in the locker room.

Out of the 15 games last season in which the Union
held a lead, they lost that lead nine times. Four of those nine times,
they showed some resilience and came back to win – including a memorable
Fourth of July win in LA against the Galaxy.

But in four other games, the Union had a lead, only
to walk away with no points – just as they did in this year’s
opener against Kansas City (they also had one draw, on the road in DC).

Three points is three points – especially on
the road. And that kind of result should never be questioned.

But getting three points while proving you can shake
off the frustration of losing a lead is something to build on.

Follow Steve on Twitter @smoore1117.

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

Eagles 34, Redskins 24: Studs, duds, turning point and more

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Eagles 34, Redskins 24: Studs, duds, turning point and more

The Eagles didn't look like the best team in the NFL. Not even close.

For most of the first half on Monday Night Football, the Eagles were a mess. They were committing penalties, giving up big plays and floundering on offense.

Then things changed.

Then Carson Wentz started to look like an MVP. And then the Eagles started to look like the team fans in Philadelphia have become used to seeing over the first half of the season.

They started to look like the best team in the NFL again.

The Eagles recovered from their early missteps to beat Washington 34-24 at the Linc on Monday night to remain in control of the division and the conference.

With the win, the Eagles are 6-1 and are all alone with the best record in the NFL. They also gained more ground, sweeping the season series with Washington, which fell to 3-3.

While the Eagles picked up a big win, they did suffer a couple losses. Jason Peters (knee) and Jordan Hicks (ankle) both left the game and did not return. The Eagles have lost important players before but these will be hard to overcome. 

Wentz was dynamic on Monday Night Football. In a second straight nationally televised game, Wentz dazzled and showed why his name is at the forefront of the NFL MVP discussion.

Wentz completed 17 of 25 passes for 268 yards, four touchdowns and one interception. His four touchdowns went to four different receivers. Wentz finished the game with a passer rating of 126.3. It's the third game in a row he's had a passer rating over 100 and it's just the sixth such game of his career.

Turning point
The Eagles looked awful early in the game but then they broke out of a funk when Wentz hit Mack Hollins on a 64-yard touchdown bomb. That changed the game and brought some life back into the Linc.

Key stat
Before the Arizona game, Wentz had never had a three-touchdown game. He has three in a row now and 11 in three games.

Wentz has more touchdown passes in the last three games (11) than 19 teams have all season.

Offensive stud
Wentz is the real deal. After a bad start, he made some spectacular plays and carried the team. He's a legitimate MVP candidate.

Offensive dud
Torrey Smith didn't have much of an impact. He didn't have a catch and was targeted just once.

Defensive stud
Malcolm Jenkins played a great game on Monday night. He was everywhere. He stopped Jordan Reed on a key third down before Wentz hit Hollins on the deep touchdown pass.

Defensive dud
We'll give this to Najee Goode but that's probably unfair. It looked like Chris Thompson was his responsibility on the touchdown. Hard duty, as Jim Schwartz would say.

Key plays
•Corey Graham picked off a Kirk Cousins pass to give the Eagles great field position and Jake Elliott drilled a 42-yarder to add three more points.

•On 3rd-and-8, Wentz somehow pulled off a magic trick and escaped a sure sack. He was able to escape and scramble for 17 yards. He capped the drive with a touchdown pass to Nelson Agholor. It was Wentz's fourth TD pass of the game and it put the Eagles up 31-17.

•Cousins hit Reed on a short touchdown pass to cut into the Eagles' lead. It made the score 24-17.

•Wentz threw a ridiculous pass while getting hit by two guys and hit Corey Clement in the end zone for a 9-yard touchdown. Clement tapped both feet in to put the Eagles up 24-10.

•After a Washington three-and-out, Wentz and the Eagles got the ball with 1:52 left in the half and drove down to score another touchdown. The big play on the drive was a 46-yarder to Zach Ertz, who then caught a four-yard touchdown pass to put the Eagles up 17-10.

•Wentz hit Hollins on a 64-yard touchdown bomb in the second quarter to tie the game at 10-10. It was Wentz's fourth 50-yard pass of the season. He had just three all last season.

•Cousins found Thompson for a seven-yard touchdown to put Washington up 10-3. Thompson was wide open in the flat and the Eagles were missing Jordan Hicks and Mychal Kendricks.

•Elliott drilled a 50-yarder to start the second-quarter scoring. It was his 11th straight make.

•Derek Barnett picked up his first solo sack to end a Washington drive in the first quarter. It came at a good time.

•After Washington kicked a field goal on their opening drive, the Eagles' first offensive drive was a disaster. They had four penalties and gained just five yards. It ended when Wentz threw a deep interception that was basically an interception.

Injuries
Ronald Darby (ankle) might return next week but was inactive against Washington. So was Mychal Kendricks (hamstring), who popped up on the Eagles' injury report during the week.

The Eagles lost Hicks (ankle) on the second play of the game and Peters (knee) on the first drive of the second half (see story).

Up next
The Eagles have two more home games before their bye week. Next Sunday, they'll face the winless 49ers and then face the Broncos before their week off.