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Week 33 Preview: Union vs. FC Cincinnati

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By Siobhan Nolan, Contributing Writer

The Union have officially clinched their spot in the playoffs, but that doesn’t make their match against FC Cincinnati any less important. The home stretch of the season will provide the necessary momentum and see just how prepared the Union are for a playoff run this year.

The Boys In Blue put their best foot forward with three goals against Nashville FC in their last match, but Jim Curtin isn’t brushing that off as some amazing offensive feat—it’s merely what should be expected of a team in playoff contention.

“They are still a very dangerous attacking team,” Curtin told reporters. “To score three goals against Nashville is not easy. There’s no easy games in this league. If you don’t bring your best, you’ll get beat.”

“The best” games for the Union have been the ones that have seen the 4-4-2 formation, but the latest stretch of games has seen Curtin favoring a 4-3-2-1 shape instead. While it’s taken some getting used to for the players, there’s a good reason by the shift in formations.

“We have to have some flexibility with the team, and certainly playing this formation does that, as opposed to the 4-4-2 diamond, which still remains my preferred formation.” Curtin explained.

Injuries have, unfortunately, played a part in the need for the shift, and the Union haven’t made it out of the woods with hurt players. Sergio Santos was tentatively returning to play against Toronto FC, but suffered a quad injury and will not be available against Cincinnati. Cory Burke is back in full training, while Ilsinho is slowly getting back to full fitness after struggling with injuries all season. According to Curtin, “He’s still got some work to do, but I want him to push as hard as possible to help this team, whether it’s in New York City or maybe the playoffs. I want it to end with him on the field.”

The biggest thing to keep in mind is that Cincinnati is one of those dangerous teams that is going into this game with absolutely nothing to lose. They’re currently on a 10-game losing streak, and pretty much guaranteed to finish the season with the worst record in MLS. It’s been an abysmal year, but again, teams with nothing to play for can be the ones that the opposition needs to be the most cautious of.

As the postseason draws nearer, Curtin needs to figure out who his key players are going to be, and how much he wants to play/rest them with the remaining regular season matches. It’s safe to say that essential men like Kai Wagner and Alejandro Bedoya could use a game to rest their legs and give the younger players some more minutes (it’s uncertain how much time Curtin would give the homegrowns in the playoffs). However, players like Leon Flach and Kacper Przybyłko won’t be able to do the same. They’re like sharks—if they stop swimming, they’ll die. If their play is suddenly interrupted, it could negatively impact their performance when it matters the most in the playoffs.

Predicted Lineup: Andre Blake, Kai Wagner, Jakob Glesnes, Jack Elliott, Olivier Mbaizo, Jose Martinez, Leon Flach, Alejandro Bedoya, Paxten Aaronson, Jamiro Monteiro, Cory Burke

  • Not everyone is a huge fan of the 4-3-2-1 formation, but Curtin has heavily implied that he’s going to be using it more often to keep his players on their toes. It’s a useful strategy, and will help strengthen the squad by exposing players to new positions and increasing versatility. Since this Cincinnati game is one of the less challenging ones in the Union’s schedule, Curtin will probably start some Homegrowns, along with giving Przybylko a bit of a break as the lone striker up front.

Score Prediction: It’s FC Cincinnati. The Union are playing at home. They’re on a hot streak, just clinched their playoff spot, and are at pretty much full strength in terms of squad depth. A 3-0 win should be light work for them at this point.


Postgame Report: Eagles Demolish Lions

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By Paul Bowman, Sports Talk Philly Editor

The Eagles entered the half dominating an inferior Lions team.

The drubbing only got worse later in the game as the Lions seemed entirely unable to keep up with the Eagles offense or defense.

The game got so out of hand the Eagles put in their back-end guys who would otherwise not see the field outside special teams into the game.

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Halftime Report: Eagles at Lions

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By Matthew Ryan, Sports Talk Philly Contributor

The 2-5 Eagles visit the 0-7 Lions in week eight of the regular season. Philadelphia is coming off an embarrassing showing against the Raiders but had arguably their best half of football in the first 30 minutes. The Birds looked great in all three phases and enter the half with a 17-0 lead. The Eagles will receive the second half kickoff. Here's what we saw in the first half of action:


First Half Offensive MVP

RB Boston Scott

In his first game this year with consistent touches, Scott has shown out. The 5-foot-6 running back was head coach Nick Sirianni’s go-to guy in the backfield, rushing nine times for 55 yards and a touchdown. Scott brought a different style of play to the offense and is making a case for more touches even when starting running back Miles Sanders returns.


First Half Defensive MVP

DE Josh Sweat

After inking a lucrative contract extension before the season, Sweat was poised to have his biggest season yet. He got off to a decent start across the first seven weeks but showed his value today. Sweat came up with two big sacks in the first half; the first on second down in Eagles territory, leading to a missed field goal attempt, and the second on third down, forcing the Lions to punt. Sweat’s play has been a big part in the Eagles putting together one of their best defensive halves of the season.


Who Needs To Step Up

WR DeVonta Smith

The first half was a clean overall performance for the Eagles. The defense allowed no points, and the offense scored on every drive besides one, not counting the end of half kneel. That lone scoreless drive started with a dropped pass for Smith, who enters halftime with no receptions.


Who To Watch Out For

TE T.J. Hockenson

For a Lions offense that struggled in the first half, Hockenson was a bright spot. The third-year tight end led the Lions in receiving yards (59) and catches (seven) in the first 30 minutes and will continue to be a focal point for Detroit's offense in the second half.


Flyers 5: Takeaways from Saturday’s Flyers-Flames Game

By Kevin Durso, Sports Talk Philly editor 

To this point in the season, the one thing the Flyers had done well, even in a pair of losses, was remain competitive in games. Saturday’s game was their first that would be classified as a clunker.

Following a rather lackluster first period for both sides, a late surge in the opening period carried over for the Flames, who dominated the game from there for a 4-0 victory over the Flyers. 

Here are five takeaways from Saturday’s game.

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Philadelphia Eagles vs. Detroit Lions Week 8 Preview

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By Connor Donald, Sports Talk Philly Contributing Writer

History

The Philadelphia Eagles and Detroit Lions have met 34 times. The record is tied 16-16-2. The Eagles have lost the last three straight dating back to 2015.

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Flames Silence Flyers in Shutout Loss

By Kevin Durso, Sports Talk Philly editor 

On a recent East-coast road trip, the Calgary Flames flat-out dominated, winning all five games and never trailing in the process. They returned home and continued their recent dominance of the Metropolitan Division. 

The Flames out-shot the Flyers, 36-20, as the three-game road trip came to an end with a 4-0 defeat for the Flyers on Saturday night in Calgary.

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Injury Report: Eagles at Lions

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By Paul Bowman, Sports Talk Philly Editor

In a bit of a twist of fate, as soon as the Eagles began running the ball, Miles Sanders hit the ground and took a while to get up.

On Saturday, the Eagles officially placed the running back on IR, meaning he will miss this game and two more.

Jordan Howard was elevated and will be active for this game in his stead.

Injury Report

Eagles

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Flyers-Flames: Game 7 Preview

By Kevin Durso, Sports Talk Philly editor 

In the first two games of the three-game road trip, the Flyers have delivered the desired result. To close things out on Saturday night, they face a team that is also hot to start the season.

The Calgary Flames return to home ice after sweeping a five-game road trip that included four Metropolitan Division teams. Now, they face the Flyers, once final test for the Orange and Black on this road trip as they close out their October schedule.

Game time is at 10 p.m.

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CFB: #20 Penn State - #5 Ohio State Preview

By Michael Lipinski, Sports Talk Philly Contributor

No. 20 Penn State (5-2, 2-2 Big Ten) travels to Columbus for a primetime match up with No. 5 Ohio State (6-1, 4-0 Big Ten).  The Nittany Lions are coming off a deflating 20-18 nine-overtime loss to Illinois last weekend in Happy Valley.  The Buckeyes defeated Indiana 54-7 in a laugher last week in Bloomington.  Ohio State is a 19.5-point home favorite according to William Hill Sportsbook.

Date: October 30, 2021

Where: Ohio Stadium, Columbus, OH

When: 7:30 PM/Eastern

TV: ABC

Radio: 1210 WPHT and the Penn State Radio Network

Series History

Penn State and Ohio State have met 35-times with the majority coming since 1993 when the Nittany Lions joined the Big Ten. The Buckeyes lead the series 21-14 including four-straight wins.

Last Match Up

2020: Ohio State defeated Penn State 38-25 in Happy Valley

This Game at a Glance

This game couldn’t come at a worse time for Penn State.  A quick recap of the last week for the Nittany Lions, there’s the shocking nine-overtime loss to Illinois, questions about James Franklin’s commitment to Penn State, and the teams’ focus on the upcoming opponent. Factor in the high-powered Ohio State offense and smothering defense, this could end up very badly for Penn State and James Franklin.

There’s a feeling among Penn State fans that this could be the beginning of a downward spiral for the Nittany Lions.

There’s a reason Ohio State is ranked fifth in the nation; the Buckeyes are averaging 49.3 points per game and an incredible 559.3 yards per game.  They’re an offensive juggernaut.  A quick look at the Ohio State offensive weapons, quarterback C.J Stroud has already thrown for 1,965-yards, 22-touchdowns, and only three interceptions, running back TreVeyon Henderson has eleven touchdowns and nearly 700-yards in six games.  The Buckeyes have three wide receivers, Garrett Wilson, Jaxson Smith-Njigba, and Chris Olave, who have over 500-yards receiving to date.  Olave and Wilson have eight-touchdowns and six-touchdowns respectively. 

That’s a lot of firepower.  Penn State will have to do everything in their power to keep this game close.

Continue reading "CFB: #20 Penn State - #5 Ohio State Preview" »


CFB: Temple-UCF Preview

By Michael Lipinski, Sports Talk Philly Contributor

Temple (3-4, 1-2 AAC) returns to The Linc for a conference game against UCF (4-3, 2-2 AAC).  The Owls are coming off a 34-14 road loss to South Florida.  The loss marks the fourth time the Owls have lost by 20-points or more this season.  UCF defeated Memphis 24-7 last Friday.  The Knights are currently 11-point favorites according to William Hill Sportsbook.

Date: October 30, 2021

Where: Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, PA

When: 12:00 PM/Eastern

TV: ESPN+

Radio: 97.5 The Fanatic

Series History

Temple and UCF have met six times with the Knights enjoying a four-game win streak

Last Match Up

2020: UCF defeated Temple 38-13 in Orlando

This Game at a Glance

UCF’s record is deceiving, the Knights lost two-games by a touchdown or less, 42-35 to Louisville and 34-30 to Navy.  The only game where the Knight’s weren’t in it was their 56-21 loss to Cincinnati.  UCF’s offense is potent, averaging 419.4-YPG with a nearly 50-50 split between the rushing game and passing game. The Knights average nearly 33-points per game and can score at will.

Temple, well, they can’t. 

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