The Union have historically done very poorly when facing MLS Western Conference teams away from Chester, PA, only earning one win over the past two years. With a big shake up, both on the field and in the front office during the offseason, they’ll surely look to turn their fortunes around out west starting with this weekend.
The Union have enjoyed quite a good start to a season that many expected would leave them near the bottom. Earnie Stewart came over during the offseason and has implemented an identity to the team which has been very visible this season as well bringing in competition at every position. For Union fans, this is probably the best and most attractive soccer they have seen this team play in its short history.
Last Friday, the Philadelphia Union defeated Orlando City SC 2-1 on a 90th minute Tranquillo Barnetta free kick. The win sent them to a tie at the top of the MLS Eastern Conference with the Montreal Impact. This Saturday, they will look to build off that performance and look to put together a winning streak.
Seattle Sounders look to kick start their season
The Sounders come into this match looking to find their form that has led them deep into the playoffs in recent years. They started the season off with three straight losses before defeating the Montreal Impact and drawing the Houston Dynamo last week with a last second equalizer. They have yet to look convincing in the attack this year, which is what has some fans worried.
The biggest reason their attack looks stale to start the year? Obafemi Martins or the lack thereof. Martins was sold to China late in the offseason and Seattle has not picked up a replacement of his caliber. Martins playmaking ability and chemistry with Clint Dempsey is not matched by Nelson Valdez, Jordan Morris, or any other Seattle striker.
That loss hurts, but it is only a matter of time before Seattle’s attack finds their chemistry and starts racking up goals like MLS fans know they can. For Philadelphia, they hope that chemistry waits at least one more week to come.
For Seattle to kick start their attack and win this Saturday, they will need Dempsey to be much more influential on the game than he has been. For much of the year, Dempsey has been playing a bit deeper, sitting behind the front line. If the Union can keep Dempsey in deeper positions, they will be able to limit his influence on the game and potentially see out a result on the road.
Philadelphia will have lineup decisions to make this Saturday. Tranquillo Barnetta is getting close to full match fitness, but he might not get the start on Seattle’s turf. Ilsinho missed last week’s game with a late hamstring injury and might not be risked on the turf either. Ken Tribbett rolled his ankle during a scrimmage against the University of Maryland this week. During Jim Curtin’s midweek press conference this week, however, he seemed to suggest Tribbett would be healthy enough to play Saturday.
Seattle will be looking to pick up their second win of the season while the Philadelphia Union will be hoping to pick up their fourth win and build on their last minute game winner last week.