Jan. 5—The trophy cases didn't get many new tenants, but 2022 proved to be a banner year for Philly sports.

Villanova's men's Final Four run wasn't a surprise, but a lot of last year's triumphs — Jalen Hurts' MVP-caliber season, a Phillies run to the World Series led by Rob Thomson (who?), and the Union's rise to the cream of the MLS crop — sure were.

Marcus Hayes breaks down the biggest surprise successes of 2022. Beyond the deep postseason runs, Nick Sirianni has entered his name into the race for individual accolades, and James Harden continues to jell with his new squad after being acquired in the Ben Simmons trade.

It's barely 2023. But there were a lot of wins in 2022. Take a stroll down memory lane with us.

— Maria McIlwain, Inquirer Sports Staff, @phillysport, sports.daily@inquirer.com.

❓ What do you think was the most impressive Philly sports moment of 2022? Email us back for a chance to be featured in the newsletter.

Goedert lends support

Like many across the country, Dallas Goedert and Avonte Maddox watched the scary scene unfold during Monday Night Football, when Bills safety Damar Hamlin suffered cardiac arrest after tackling Bengals receiver Tee Higgins. Goedert was among those who expressed their emotions Wednesday afternoon and said he's there for his teammates, particularly guys like Maddox, a college teammate of Hamlin's.

A pair of Eagles could be coming off injured reserve soon, while Jalen Hurts continues to make progress as he works back from a right shoulder sprain.

Looking way ahead, the Eagles may be adding fresh faces to the offensive line through the draft. And a pair of Ohio State linemen could fit the bill.

The Sixers' next step

The 76ers are getting healthy and finding more success after a slow start to the 2022-23 season. They're rising in the Eastern Conference standings, Joel Embiid is competing for the scoring title, and James Harden could finish the year as the league leader in assists.

But all that will be for naught if they end the season without a long playoff run. It's Eastern Conference finals or bust for these Sixers, writes the Inquirer's Keith Pompey.

Embiid sat out with a sore left foot, but the Sixers beat the Indiana Pacers, 129-126, in overtime.

Next: The Sixers host the Chicago Bulls at 7 p.m. Friday (NBCSP).

A healthy Hart

The Flyers made a formality a reality on Wednesday by activating goalie Carter Hart from injured reserve.

Hart missed the team's previous three games with a concussion but was cleared earlier in the week, although he was not activated because of salary-cap logistics.

While it remains to be seen if Hart plays Thursday, the game will mark the Flyers' third "Throwback Thursday" promotional night of the season. You've seen the cool retro posters for each game, but where did they come from? Giana Han tracked down the local artist responsible for the slick designs.

Next: The Flyers are back on the ice looking to make it four in a row against the Arizona Coyotes at 7 p.m. Thursday (NBCSP).

U.S Soccer's internecine war

More than 30 years ago, Jersey boys Gregg Berhalter and Claudio Reyna played on the same youth soccer club, the picture of friendship and success as both eventually progressed to the national-team level.

Fast-forward to the present, with Reyna's son, Gio, on the U.S. men's national team and Berhalter as the coach of the same squad. Their longtime history has turned toxic, with Reyna complaining about Berhalter's coaching decisions to U.S. Soccer sporting director Earnie Stewart. Reyna's wife, Danielle, went a step further, and now all of U.S. Soccer must deal with the fallout.

In the meantime, the USMNT has named an interim coach for the January slate of games.

The Union, who previously employed Stewart as their club's sporting director, inked Dániel Gazdag to a new contract.

Worth a look

X-man: Caleb Daniels' 20-point night helped lift Villanova past Georgetown.

Siegrist's record night: The Villanova senior helped her team stay hot in conference play with a home win over Georgetown.

Three's company: The Temple men edged South Florida to win their third straight.

What you're saying about Damar Hamlin

We asked you: If you were watching the game, what were your thoughts and feelings watching what happened to Hamlin? Among your responses:

Very shocked. — Mark S.

Shocked and praying for Damar Hamlin family and Buffalo Bills teammates. — Jair M.

Football is a physically demanding sport with a DNA drive to dismantle the opposition....warlike. Soccer engages with swift moves and agility without the primary objective of training to execute HARD physical contact. How can you block, tackle or invade without all out, full hammer technique? It can be done. Let's try it. We have enough former football players with polarizing brain and physical damage.

Let us put our fan ticket money into revising the game. Still exciting. Not losing, but enhancing the challenge of the sport and the lives of our athletes. — Steve A.

Only that our maker is watching and protecting Damar and will bless him and his family and restore his 24 yr old life. — Lorrie W.

Sudden cardiac arrest is horribly scary. Comes on sudden without warning. Seeing it on the football field is even scarier. Seeing him collapse brought back feelings of when it happened in the ER years ago to my husband. I was at his bedside when it happened. Quick thinking on my part to recognize it (I am a Nurse) and the ER team saved him. There seemed to be an incredible medical team treating him. He is young and strong as well. We are all praying for him. Football is a brutal support not only to the outside of the body, but to the inside as well. — Kathy T.

We compiled today's newsletter using reporting from Marcus Hayes, Josh Tolentino, EJ Smith, Devin Jackson, Keith Pompey, Gina Mizell, Olivia Reiner, Giana Han, Jonathan Tannenwald, Jeff Neiburg, Meghann Morhardt, and Cayden Steele.


(c)2023 The Philadelphia Inquirer

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