Flyers Notes: Laperriere Focuses on Details, Flyers 1st Captain Passes, Flyers National TV Schedule

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(Photo: Zack Hill/Philadelphia Flyers)

By Kevin Durso, Sports Talk Philly editor 

As another season approaches, this is a hodge-podge of notes regarding the Flyers. Rookie Camp got underway on Thursday, and Phantoms head coach Ian Laperriere met with the media following Day 1.

Laperriere is running the on-ice activity for Rookie Camp with the majority of the Flyers brass, including head coach Alain Vigneault, watching from above. Using lessons learned from his time on Vigneault’s staff, Laperriere is focused on the details on the ice, notably how quickly players can take instruction and apply it to their game.

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CCL Semifinal (Leg 2) Recap: The End (For Now)

By Siobhan Nolan

To say losing the second leg of the CCL semifinals hurts would be a gross understatement. It wouldn’t capture how much hope and blind faith fans had in the Union going into this game. It wouldn’t convey how disheartening it was to hear how the traveling Club America made a home game sound like an away game. It’s a disappointing result, to say the least. But it wasn’t for a lack of fight or passion.

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It needs to be said how composed and disciplined the defense looked in the face of a creative and calculated Club America side. Kai Wagner played the left side of the field as if he was in a training exercise, Jakob Glesnes and Jack Elliott knocked balls away from the box with the same ease as when a human breathes, while Olivier Mbaizo was left with enough freedom to roam the right side of the field almost completely unchecked.

The midfield diamond is where the Union really shined. Leon Flach was the personification of passion and energy, quite literally throwing his body on the line to gain possession and push the ball forward. He wasn’t afraid to back up Jose Martinez in the numerous altercations Martinez got involved in. Alejandro Bedoya was the picture of calm, collected, and focused. Jamiro Monteiro was simply a blur as he dashed up and down the field in search of the ball and in search of a goal.

Cory Burke never stopped working for his goal, and came close quite a few times. Kacper Przybyłko read the game well, and was able to weave his way through a steadfast Club America defense. It was one of those games where the Union played incredibly well (some might even say they were the better team), but had nothing to show for it. As childish as it may sound, the circumstances just weren’t fair. Club America players threw themselves to the ground and rolled around in feigned agony at the slightest contact from a Union player. The Union created great chance after great chance, but didn’t put themselves in the right positions at the right time. When they did, they just couldn’t capitalize the way they should have (ahem, the magnificently bottled Monteiro penalty kick.) The referee very much caved into the fans’ pressure to make a call on more than one occasion. It would have been a herculean feat indeed if the Union had been able to overcome the odds stacked against them.

So this year, it wasn’t meant to be. Another CCL final will be played where an MLS team has no chance of winning. And while it’s safe to bet one’s life savings that Jim Curtin, and the team as a whole, won’t be satisfied to have gotten this far and come away empty-handed, it says something the way they approached and played this game. They didn’t cower in the shadow of the competition’s most successful team. It looked like every jeer from an opposing fan only made them run faster and shoot harder. They didn’t bow out gracefully, nor should they have. They were dragged out of this competition kicking and screaming, and with an unspoken warning: They’ll be back, and God help Club America if they meet again.


Young Players Will Have to Earn Spots with Flyers

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(Photo: Zack Hill/Philadelphia Flyers)

By Kevin Durso, Sports Talk Philly editor 

A new season dawns for the Flyers with the start of Rookie Camp on Thursday and main training camp just a week away. This is where the preparations for the upcoming season will begin.

It’s been an offseason of change for the Flyers. Multiple trades and short-term veteran signings dominated the Flyers offseason, making way for several new faces as the team shook up the core. Gone are names like Jake Voracek, Shayne Gostisbehere, Nolan Patrick, and Brian Elliott, in are Ryan Ellis, Rasmus Ristolainen, Cam Atkinson, Keith Yandle, Derick Brassard, and Martin Jones

But what does this do for the young prospects within the organization? Is there still a chance for them to make their impact on this roster this season?

The possibility exists for sure. It always does. The road to get there is just going to be much more difficult this time around.

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Maybe It Was All a Dream?

By Siobhan Nolan

How does one prepare for the most important game in a club’s history?

Did Sir Alex Ferguson ever dream that he would lead Manchester United to a treble? How seriously did Arsene Wenger believe in the possibility of going an entire season without losing a single game? Could Zinedine Zidane have predicted that he would go from being one of the most iconic soccer players of all time to a manager that won the Champions League three times? Jim Curtin overseeing the Union in the second leg of the Concacaf Champions League semifinals might not seem like it at all compares to the aforementioned achievements of other managers.

But to the Union faithful, it’s infinitely more important.

It’s cliche to describe any Philadelphia team as “gritty.” No Philadelphia fan wants to hear that their team plays aggressively, physically, and with a chip on their shoulder (something that this author is guilty of, unfortunately.) It’s all been said. However, it’s all true for the game against Club America.

It’s safe to say that nobody, maybe not even the Union themselves, thought that the Union would get this far. They’re the last MLS team standing in the competition. They’re facing off against the most successful club in this competition’s history. Sitting in Subaru Park, there are so many Club America fans that what should be a home game sounds more like an away game. It would be entirely too easy for the Union to get psyched out.

However, that’s never been the Union way. The odds, for the most part, have always been against them. (There’s literally a banner hanging in front of the Sons of Ben seating section that reads “Philly vs. Everybody”.) If the Sons of Ben had listened to everyone that said there’s no way a small group of fans could bring a soccer team to Philadelphia, the Union wouldn’t even be here. If Curtin had listened to everyone that said that the less-than-mediocre team he took over in 2014 wasn’t amounting to much, it’s doubtful that he would have won the club’s first major trophy when he did. The Union have never been about listening to the noise.

No matter what happens tonight, the Union can take pride in the fact that they made it this far. And if they crash out of the CCL tonight, they will do so in a blaze of glory. If they win against Club America, they will go down in the history books, and they will send every yellow shirt in this stadium home in a fit of tears.

The time is now. The stage is set. Regardless of the result, the Union have come this far. Only time will tell if they’re destined to go all the way.


Concacaf Champions League Semifinal (Leg 2) Preview

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By Siobhan Nolan, Contributing Writer

The fact that this is the most important game in club history is not lost on Jim Curtin or his players. The Union might be down 2-0 on aggregate, but their quest to become the first MLS team to win the current format of the Concacaf Champions League is still very much on as they take on Mexican side Club America at home.

Curtin stated quite bluntly at his pre-game press conference, “It’s all or nothing now. I won’t sit here and say it’s easy. It takes a lot of players working hard and tough decisions from the staff to field a roster and utilize subs the right way and juggle the different rules and competitions.”

It cannot be overstated how difficult it’s been for the Union to get as far as they have. They’re no stranger to beating the odds, and although it’s an intimidating game looming on Wednesday, Curtin made it clear that that’s no excuse for anyone to count them out. “A team with nothing to lose is a dangerous team,” he stated.

The Union have had 12 days of rest since their last game, a 1-0 loss against the New England Revolution. Brazilian winger Ilsinho is the only Philadelphia player that’s doubtful for this matchup, due to struggling with a thigh injury. No other players are reported injured or will be suspended due to yellow card accumulation.

The Boys In Blue are back at full strength, and have had ample time to strategize how to play against Club America, a team they only faced for the first time in the first leg of these semifinals. Their key players are back from international duty, they’re back on home turf, and the infamous chip that often spurs them to grind out results when it counts is on their shoulder.

However, that strategy will most likely involve sacrificing much of their defensive stability in order to put goals in the back of Club America’s net. The Union aren’t known for their balance, so when all of their energy is going forward, it will leave them vulnerable to a Club America counterattack, which could lead to an essential away goal for the visitors. The home team will put so much effort into garnering some offense that Club America could best them simply by sitting back, remaining calm, and maintaining discipline and composure.

Predicted Lineup: Andre Blake, Kai Wagner, Jack Elliott, Jakob Glesnes, Olivier Mbaizo, Jose Martinez, Alejandro Bedoya, Leon Flach, Jamiro Monteiro, Sergio Santos, Kacper Przybylko

  • It goes without saying that the Union will be putting all the heavy hitters in the starting lineup for this game. Curtin experimented with different pairings and formations during league play, but this is no game for playing around. Fans will get to enjoy the tried-and-true back four with the midfield diamond made up of Martinez, Bedoya, Flach, and Monteiro. Kacper Przybylko and Sergio Santos are the most reliable striker combination for this matchup, and all focus will be channeled into getting the offense going.

Score Prediction: Similar to how Fred and George Weasley predicted that Ireland would win the Quidditch World Cup, but Bulgaria would capture the Snitch in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, the Union will win, but Club America will still advance to the CCL final on aggregate. It’s entirely feasible for the Union to scrape together a 2-1 win, but already being 2-0 isn’t an easy thing to overcome.