Game #5 Preview: Seattle at Philadelphia

Posted on 14 April 2011 by Breton Bonnette

Seattle visits PPL Park after registering their first win of the season without star Fredy Montero. Their motivation, however, will come more from last year’s 3-1 loss in PPL Park’s opener. The Eastern Conference leading Union will look to break the Sounders momentum and experience a game where both the offense and defense are firing on all cylinders. Sebastien Le Toux, yet to revisit his 2010 form, could be the man to start that process.

Philadelphia Union (3-1-0) vs. Seattle Sounders (1-2-2)
Saturday, April 16, 2011, 4:00PM
PPL Park, Chester, PA, The Comcast Network

 Philadelphia Union Probable Starting XI

——————————–Mondragon——————————–

Williams————Califf——————–Valdes————-Harvey

———————-Miglioranzi———–Okugo————————

Mapp—————————————————————–Daniel

————————-Le Toux————-Ruiz—————————

OUT: MF Gabe Farfan (R toe dislocation); DOUBTFUL: MF Brian Carroll (R hamstring strain); PROBABLE: FW Carlos Ruiz (L hamstring strain)

Seattle Sounders Probable Starting XI

————————————Keller————————————-

Riley——————-Parke——————Hurtado———-Gonzalez

Friberg—————Alonso——————Evans————-Zakuani

————————–White—————–Rosales———————-

QUESTIONABLE: FW Fredy Montero (R wrist fracture)

Game Notes:

If Montero can’t go (although, signs point to him getting minutes somehow) it would mean that Rosales, one of Seattle’s better players over the last few games will continue to partner on the attacking front with target man O’Brian White. Erik Friberg is subject to replacement this week after a couple down showings. With Designated Player Alvaro Fernandez waiting in the wings, I would assume there’s not much room for error.

Seattle grabbed their first three points of the season at home last weekend with their defense playing a huge role shutting down a relatively efficient Chicago attack led by two Uruguayans Diego Chaves and Gaston Puerari. Kasey Keller earned Best XI honors for the week making several clutch saves in the late going. O’Brian White’s first goal against the Chicago defense was impressive – outleaping and beating two Fire defenders to power a header past Sean Johnson. The gamewinner, however, was an example of how Steve Zakuani can affect a game. He can sit off to the side for some time only to make one run, one play that changes the course of the whole game. The battle on the wings will prove decisive in Saturday’s match-up as will the competition between Migs/Okugo (if Carroll can’t go) and Evans/Alonso. 

Seattle dominated Chicago in possession last weekend – 66% to 34% – and we can expect them to do so again on Saturday. As we saw last weekend vs. New York, will it matter if the chances the Union do create are converted?

Local native Jeff Parke will return to Philadelphia. Parke, born in Abington, PA, played collegiate soccer at Drexel before joining the professional ranks. He was the last overall pick (60th) in the 2004 MLS SuperDraft and became a staple in the defense for the New York Red Bulls before choosing to test the waters overseas. It didn’t work out after a trial in Belgium and he returned, played for Vancouver (then in the USL) before signing last season with Seattle.

The Union’s first ever game was against the Sounders at Qwest Field, the First Kick of 2010 season. Two first half goals from Brad Evans and Steve Zakuani and the ejection of Toni Stahl (now with Fort Lauderdale of the NASL) sent the Union back to Philadelphia itching for a rematch. They got it and an inaugural win to open PPL Park in impressive fashion. The Union put on an offensive clinic winning 3-1 with goals from Seb Le Toux, Fred, and Danny Mwanga.

One of the bigger taking points after the Union’s 3-1 win over Seattle at PPL Park last year was the extreme heat. Saturday’s weather is expected to be pretty much the complete opposite – 55 degrees and rainy. Does that play into Seattle’s favor? Probably not but it’ll ensure they’ll feel much more at home.

Seattle head coach Sigi Schmid on the Union: “I wish we could get three goals and have it count for nine points, it’d be nice. Obviously defensively they haven’t given much up. Every game they’ve been in has been a 1-0 game either for them or against them. Defensively they’ve got a good mindset; all 11 guys get back and help on that defensive side of things. Their goalkeeper has kept them well organized. They’ve done well. They bend a little bit, sort of like a willow, but they don’t break. We have to find a way to get in behind them and obviously get goals.”

A Union affiliate club will start their season this weekend. The Harrisburg City Islanders will take on the Pittsburgh Riverhounds at 7PM on Saturday at home. Reading United AC won’t start their PDL campaign until May 7th. A little surprised that the City Islanders haven’t picked up JT Noone yet. He’s the only former Union player left without a club.

Predict the Scoreline:

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