The Philadelphia Union (3-2-0, 9 pts, T-1st in East) travel to Century Link Field to face last-place Seattle Sounders FC (1-3-1, 4 pts) on Saturday (10 PM, the Comcast Network). The Union are coming off a thrilling last-second win over Orlando City SC while the Sounders also had their own late game heroics on the road against the Houston Dynamo with a last-second goal by defender Chad Marshall to earn a 1-1 draw. At his weekly press conference, Jim Curtin said “I’ve warned my guys they have champions on their team, they have winners on their team,” “So, it’s going to be a very difficult task. In some ways, it makes it even more challenging to go there because they need a win…. Anybody can beat anybody in our league so it’s going to be a tough day. We’ll have to be playing at our best to have a shot.”
“But, yeah, I wouldn’t read too much into the early standings, the power rankings, and all that stuff,” Curtin continued.
The two teams met last season on June 24th. Coming off a 5-1 beatdown by the LA Galaxy, the Union defense settled down and a single goal by C.J. Sapong in the 69th minute was the only tally at sold-out PPL Park, as the Union won 1-0.
For Seattle, neither veteran forward Clint Dempsey nor Homegrown Player and forward Jordan Morris are off to good starts; the other veteran forward (Nelson Valdez) has just two shots on target this season. Overall the team is 17th in total shots and 19th out of 20 in goals with four.
According to Curtin, last weeks “hero” (despite the brouhaha on the interwebs, the goal still stands) Tranquillo Barnetta‘s knee is not giving him issues, but he is most likely not fit for 90 minutes yet. Mindful of turf and travel as well, I’d expect to see him in a substitute role, if anything.
With his next appearance, Brian Carroll will become the sixth outfield player in MLS history to have played in 350 or more games, joining Kyle Beckerman (383), Steve Ralston (378), Brad Davis (371), Jeff Cunningham (365) and Davy Arnaud (351) as the only non-goalies to reach this milestone. Goalkeepers Kevin Hartman (416) and Nick Rimando (398) are also in the 350 club.
Seattle Sounders defender Brad Evans and midfielder Osvaldo Alonso also will hit 200 games with a cap on Saturday.
This match serves as the nightcap for the Philadelphia sports scene, as the Flyers and Capitals playing Game 2 in Washington just hours before it.
Projected lineup for the Union: Blake; Fabinho, Marquez, Tribbett, Rosenberry; Carroll, Nogueira, Pontius, Alberg, Le Toux; Sapong
Prediction: even though Seattle has had a rough start to things, it’s always tough to play there, and Seattle is still a top-notch club even if they aren’t playing like it right now. The Union will go for all three points but will be satisfied with an away point, which they’ll get:
Seattle Sounders FC 1-1 Philadelphia Union