Podcast: Making Sense of Fletcher Cox Rumors & Expanding the College Football Playoff

 

Doc & Brett discuss the "rumors" surrounding Fletcher Cox and his status with the Eagles.  Is now the time to trade the former All-Pro?  Plus, will the expansion of the College Football Playoff reopen the door to conference realignment?  

 

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About The Goal Line Stand:  All Football! All the Time!

Mike, an Eagles fan, & Brett, a Giants fan, discuss the latest news & notes from the world of football! Analysis, interviews, & more! 

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Flyers F Oskar Lindblom Wins Masterton Trophy

By Kevin Durso, Sports Talk Philly editor 

While it may have been a disappointing year on the ice for the Flyers, one story certainly stood out as an inspiration.

At the end of the previous season, for the final two games of the playoffs, Oskar Lindblom made his return to the ice following months of cancer treatments after being diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma in December 2019. He was deemed cancer-free in July 2020 and returned to the ice in September.

When the new season began in January, Lindblom was right back on the ice as a regular. In the first game of the season, Lindblom scored a goal. He added a second into an empty net in the second game. And while he finished the season with eight goals and six assists for 14 points, he played in 50 of 56 games, marking his official return from cancer.

A year ago, Lindblom was a finalist for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, an award presented to a player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey. In 2021, Lindblom takes home the hardware, officially winning the award in an announcement made on Tuesday night.

Continue reading "Flyers F Oskar Lindblom Wins Masterton Trophy" »


Union Academy Ranked First in MLS

Embed from Getty Images

By Siobhan Nolan, Contributing Writer

Move over, FC Dallas! There’s a new top academy in MLS.

SoccerWire, a site that publishes monthly rankings of the top 100 youth soccer teams in the United States, has named the Union’s academy system as the top youth development program in the country. This is the first time in the history of SoccerWire’s rankings that any club has overtaken Dallas’ number one spot since the list was first published in February 2020.

For a team that’s only been around for a little over a decade, they’ve produced two of the biggest success stories in MLS youth development—defender Mark McKenzie and forward Brenden Aaronson. McKenzie and Aaronson both featured in the 2020 MLS Best XI, with McKenzie finishing second in the race for 2020 Defensive Player of the Year. Following their impressive 2020 season, the pair garnered serious attention from, and subsequent moves to, clubs in Europe within two years of making their debuts for the Union’s senior team. Aaronson’s reported transfer fee of $6 million to Austrian club RB Salzburg is the most expensive fee of any homegrown transfer in MLS history.

“Player development is one of the three core areas we want to excel at to build our club into a consistent winner and giving players a chance to continually challenge themselves is part of that ideology,” Union principal owner Jay Sugarman said at the time of Aaronson’s transfer. “Brenden’s success will inspire everyone involved in developing our young talent and will be just one of many success stories we expect to see out of our academy in the coming years.”

“This has always been the goal of the club,” Union sporting director Ernst Tanner added. “We want to establish a unique identity of developing young players through our academy with an end goal of cultivating and developing their talent to the level that allows them to compete against the very best in the world.”

It should come as no surprise then that the Union’s academy sit at the top, seeing as the Boys In Blue are one of the few teams in MLS that emphasize youth development and give their young players real opportunities in the senior team. During the 2020 MLS season, the Union came in second for minutes played by players under the age of 22. Aaronson, McKenzie, Matt Real, Anthony Fontana, Jack De Vries, and Cole Turner accounted for 22.9% of the team’s total playing time that season.

After bringing in a new wave of Homegrown signings for the 2021 season, most notably Paxten Aaronson and Quinn Sullivan, the league will have to get used to seeing the Union at the top of lists like these for the foreseeable future. Would it be arrogant to start making comparisons to the academies of Ajax and Borussia Dortmund? Perhaps. However, if the Union keep producing legitimate, consistent, and internationally recognized talent at the rate that they have been in recent years, it’s safe to say that the MLS will have their very own youth development dynasty to boast about.


Phillies Head West with Massive Momentum Swing

By Ben Ballier, Sports Talk Philly Staff

Just one week ago, the Phillies were sludging their way through a spell of mediocrity. One bad stretch and “panic mode” may have been in full effect.

The club was just 4-6 in their last 10 games, and they would prepare to take on the Atlanta Braves next, a series in which they ended up losing game one. This ultimately landed the Phillies at a subpar record of 28-31.

But more importantly, the Mets continued to extend their division lead, and the Phillies had a treacherous June schedule staring directly at them.

Then, the Phillies altered the outlook of their season in dramatic fashion.

Three straight walk-offs and a 7-0 blowout in the remaining 4 games of the homestand against quality baseball teams spurred hope in the team and fanbase.

Arguably the most significant development throughout the win streak was the offense.

The offense may be heating up with the weather after months of inconsistent offense from an oft-injured lineup, one that appeared to sleepwalk through many games. They averaged 5.2 runs per game versus the Braves and Yankees opposed to 4.26 runs per game on the season.

For reference, the difference in average runs per game between the teams with the highest (Astros--5.51 runs) and lowest (Pirates--3.48 runs) in MLB is 2.03, so jumping nearly an entire run per game is significant.

I attribute some of the offensive uptick to Alec Bohm, a key contributor to the elite 2020 Phillies lineup, who has heated up in June. He is batting nearly .400 this month, and the “clutch factor” appears to be back as well.

In addition, Jean Segura is tearing the cover off the ball. The should-be-All-Star has raised his batting average to .339, and he was responsible for 2 of the 3 walk-off hits in crunch time.

Pair that production with Odubel Herrera’s .347 average in the leadoff spot and you have got a LETHAL one-two punch to begin ballgames.

This offensive surge comes at an opportune time. They will need to scratch and claw for runs in the upcoming Dodgers series, although the pitching matchups do seem to be slightly in the Phillies favor.

Spencer Howard, piggy-backed by rookie Bailey Falter, faces off versus Tony Gonsolin in game one. Zach Eflin opposes Julio Urías in game two, and Zack Wheeler is set to duel future Hall of Famer Clayton Kershaw in game three.

Speaking of starting pitching, the Phillies rotation ranks 11th in the majors in ERA and sixth in WAR.. It has undeniably been a strong suit for the ballclub this season.

It is precisely why it is imperative for the Phillies lineup to continue having success.

If you combine the 2021 rotation and improved bullpen with the elite production of the 2020 lineup, a lineup that is nearly identical to the current one, the Phillies suddenly look like a threatening playoff contender.

Only time will tell if the Phillies can sustain this level of production on both sides of the ball, but two series wins against the NL West's best teams would turn heads around the baseball world.

 


Report: Phillies to Promote Falter to "Piggyback" Howard

The Phillies had Bailey Falter on the active roster briefly in 2021. In need of an arm in April, the Phillies got two innings out of Falter.  He allowed two earned runs in two innings.  But after a strong performance at Lehigh Valley, Falter appears to be headed back to the Philadelphia active roster.

Matt Breen of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports that Falter is in Los Angeles with the Phillies:

The extra left-handed arm could profile well out of the Phillies bullpen against the Los Angeles Dodgers lineup.

Spencer Howard has struggled to maintain his velocity deep in games so far.  With Ranger Suarez moving further back in the Phillies bullpen, the Phillies could use a bridge to Howard and the Phillies bullpen.  Suarez provided the Phillies several three-inning appearances that added to short starts from the rotation.

The Phillies will have to make a roster move to add Falter.  Falter is on the 40-man roster.

The Phillies are making this choice as they look for a role for Matt Moore, who made another rehab start yesterday at Triple-A Lehigh Valley.  Moore went five innings and allowed three earned runs.  Could the Phillies be stretching out Moore for the rotation spot?

Perhaps.  In the meantime, the Phillies appear poised for two players to do the job tonight in Los Angeles.

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