Saturday, April 16, 2011

Seattle Sounders FC vs Philadelphia Union preview

By Money Mike

The Seattle Sounders hit the road to PPL Park in Chester, Pennsylvania to take on the Philadelphia Union. Last season, following USA's World Cup exit, the Union opened up their new stadium against the Sounders. The Sounders got on the board first in that one after a late first half goal by Pat Noonan, but defensively they were awful, a clip inside the box resulted in a penalty kick which was converted by Sebastien Le Toux. Kasey Keller was left helpless as the backline just stood around almost all game and late on in that match, the Union made them pay with goals by Fred and Danny Mwanga. The Sounders, coming off a win against Chicago, are seeking revenge against the Union who are right now leading the east with 9 points. So far all of their matches ended in 1-0 decisions with three of them going their way. But the Sounders look to pick up where they left off last week and come away with another big victory.

Injury report:

Seattle Sounders FC - Well there's only one injury to report this week for the men in Rave Green. Fredy Montero, who missed the last two matches while recovering from wrist surgery, has been cleared by the doctors and is with the team for the trip to Philly.

Philadelphia Union - Gabriel Farfan has a dislocated right toe and is not going to feature in this match. Brian Carroll has a strained right hamstring and it's unlikely he'll play.

Key matchups:

Steve Zakuani vs Sheanon Williams - I like this matchup here, Zakuani and Williams. Steve Zakuani with his creativity and Sheanon Williams who is very good defensively and also add depth to Philadelphia's attack. Look for these two to battle it out.

Philadelphia front line vs Seattle Sounders back line - I already said the Sounders had difficulties shutting down Le Toux and Mwanga, but now Philadelphia's attacking front looks even more dangerous with the acquisition of Carlos Ruiz. I think this matchup will decide whether or not Seattle will win this game.

What's the difference between this years Philadelphia team and last years?:

Much like last year, Peter Nowak has done a fantastic job bringing in veterans like Danny Califf, and also bringing in some young talent. We of course remember the 2008 Expansion Draft. I was listening online that day and I had a bad feeling that Sebastien Le Toux was gonna be selected. There were some big names that Nowak selected, including Alejandro Moreno, Andrew Jacobson, Stefani Miglioranzi and when I heard Le Toux's name last, I can't remember what my reaction was, but I can tell you, there was nothing to smile about. Le Toux made 28 appearances with the Sounders in 09' and scored only 1 goal, then Peter Nowak picks him up in the Expansion Draft and he ends up scoring 14 goals in 28 matches, which is even more disappointing to me because I still felt like we should've kept Stebastien Le Toux. The fans loved him when he was with the USL squad and were really excited to see that he was the first player signed by the MLS Sounders, and seeing him go, I was just upset. Alot of us are still talking about that, saying that we should've protected Le Toux, and I'm sure that even though he did very little in terms of scoring goals, the fans were upset after hearing about Le Toux's departure.

Aside form Le Toux, Nowak drafted three players in the first round of the 2010 MLS SuperDraft, including former Oregon State Beaver, Danny Mwanga as #1 overall. Mwanga after his sophomore year considered leaving Oregon State to play in Europe, but Nowak talked him into staying in America and he selects him as the first overall pick. Other key acquisitions prior to 2010 of course included Danny Califf, they brought in Justin Mapp in the last half of the season. So Nowak already had this team going the right direction.

This year, it almost felt like they lost a lot of players, which they did. Michael Orozco is now back in Mexico, playing for San Luis. Shea Salinas, Alejandro Moreno, Chris Seitz and Fred have all left. But they brought in veteran goalkeeper Faryd Mondragon from 1. FC Koln, Carlos Valdes from Club Santa Fe, Brian Carroll from the Columbus Crew, Carlos Ruiz from Aris FC, Keon Daniel from the Puerto Rico Islanders and they also drafted goalkeeper Zach McMath in the first round of the 2011 draft. So this team is gonna get stronger and stronger.

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