The passion level for sports in Philadelphia is unprecedented. A kind of Brotherly Love that exudes off of us like sweat pouring off of Patrick Ewing. That passion does not stop at the four major sports. In 2010 the Philadelphia Union joined the city and became the MLS’s sixteenth team upon their expansion into the league. The team plays their home matches along the Delaware River at a brand new, beautiful PPL Park located in Chester, PA.
In order to trace the history of professional soccer in Philadelphia and how the U came to be you have to look at the history of the Sons of Ben. This will uncover what real passion is all about. As rumors circulated around the city in 2007 of a potential deal between the MLS and investors in Philadelphia regarding a soccer team in Philly the Sons of Ben were born.
Opening day is just a little over month a way. It is a great day where every team has a "chance" and every fan base believes it could be their year. As Phillies Phans, we might be about to witness the greatest team in the franchises long history. As phans of this great team, we have to sit back and appreciate that we are in the greatest era of Phillies baseball. I expect the Phillies to be just as good if not a little better than advertised. Here are my predictions for the 20011 season.
Game changer, swagger, bigger than the game, champion, ball hawk, can all describe #16 on our list. Asante Samuel, although highly criticized, is one of the premier playmaking defensive backs in all of football. In three seasons with the Eagles Samuel has recorded a staggering 20 interceptions. Since 2006 nobody has more interceptions in football than Samuel with 36 INT’s.
At 5’10 185 pounds Samuel is not known for his hitting or his eagerness to tackle. Regardless you cannot deny the impact he has on defense for the Philadelphia Eagles. With an injury riddled and inexperienced secondary the Eagles sorely missed Samuel in the four games he missed in 2010 due to a concussion and a knee injury. In week 11 at Chicago, Bears QB Jay Cutler had a field day throwing for 4 touchdowns without having to worry about keeping an eye out for #22. After Samuel the Eagles are very thin at cornerback and it showed.
It’s only game 1 of Grapefruit League action but the beginning of Spring Training officially. The truth remains that the Phillies won 5-4 today vs. the hated Yankees and it feels good! After beating Florida State Thursday 8-0 the Phightins played their first real game this afternoon at George Steinbrenner Field.
Cole Hamels made his spring debut with a strong outing. Hamels allowed an unearned run over two innings allowing two hits. He threw a total of 33 pitches in all. Hamels in exceptional shape again this spring is off to a great start.
It only took a few days in camp as a National for the Phillies former right fielder to talk about his old team. During Cliff Lee’s press conference, he mentioned how Werth was not happy that he decided to join the team. But it was ultimately Werth’s decision to take the money and run south to Washington. You can’t blame a player when you are dealing with that much money, it is a business and he was out to get the most money he could. Werth stated that he felt the team made a mistake when they traded Lee after the 2009 season; he felt that if they would have originally kept Lee, it would have made it easier to resign him.
During the Flyers historic postseason run to the Stanley Cup Finals last season, many players raised their play to a different level. The player who best fits that description is Flyers Forward Danny Briere. Prior to last season’s postseason run, there were many Flyers fans, including myself, who never thought Briere lived up to his contract or his ability. But he was a dominate player during the postseason, setting the Flyers playoff record for most points in a postseason with 30 (12 goals, 18 assist). He has taken the momentum he gained from the post season and has had an impressive season thus far. When the all-star team was originally announced this season, Briere was not on the list and was seen as the major “snub” of this season’s team. But after some injuries Briere found himself on the team and even scored a goal during the game. He currently leads the team in goals with 28 and is third on the team in points with 51. His playmaking ability and great skating earns him a spot at #17 on our rankings.
Momentum going into the All-Star break is a great thing, but it means nothing if you can’t get that energy back when play resumes. The Sixers proved that they are still on a roll tonight at the Wells Fargo Center as they defeated the lowly Washington Wizards 117-94. It could have been an easy letdown game but the Sixers clamped down in the 2nd half en route to the easy victory. The Sixers have now won 8 of their last 11 games.
The Sixers continue to get better and better as the season progresses. It has a lot to do with the faith the Sixers have in their head coach and the trust Collins puts on his young point guard Jrue Holiday. The 20-year old point guard is playing with remarkable poise.
The point guard position has often been compared to the quarterback in football. They are the player who has to run the team’s offense and has more responsibility than anyone on the court. Mid-way through last season the 76ers put the massive responsibility on the shoulders of a 19-year old. After the 2008-09 season, the Sixers decided to part ways with their former point guard Andre Miller who was one of the most underrated PG’s in the NBA. He was a key part of the team that almost shocked the Magic in the first round of the playoffs. Last season the team took a huge step backwards in the standings, most of the blame was placed on first year head coach Eddie Jordan, but I think Millers’ absence was an overlooked reason. With the 17th pick in the 2009 draft, the team selected Jrue Holiday as there point guard of the future. Since being drafted Holiday has steadily improved, his impressive play so far this season has him earned a spot at #18 on our rankings.
It takes offense, defense, and special teams to win in the National Football League. So often the latter is forgotten and put off to the side as unimportant. That is until your kicker misses the game winning field goal with 3 seconds to play. That was the case in the 2010 season for the Eagles when David Akers missed two key field goals in the playoffs en route to a 5 point loss for the Birds to the Green Bay Packers.
The 2009 World Series was a damaging to the psyche type of loss. Not only does it hurt to be so close to a championship but to have it all taken away by a lousy team from up north just plain sucks. With a 4-2 win today for the Flyers over the New York Rangers the Flyers did what every Philly phan revels in no matter what the sport, they beat New York! There is just something about a win over any New York team that just feels so sweet. It wasn’t a Broad Street Bullie beat down we would have liked but nonetheless it was another “We Run New York” statement win.