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Match #5 Preview: Philadelphia Union vs. Seattle Sounders

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Setting: Saturday, April 14 at PPL Park in Chester; kickoff scheduled for 4:06:30 PM Eastern

Broadcast Information: The Comcast Network (J.P. Dellacamera, Taylor Twellman, Bob Rigby) with coverage starting at 3:30 PM Eastern with a pre-game show / KONG 6/16 and News Talk 97.3 KIRO FM (Arlo White, Erin Mayovsky), KOMO 4.2 (Jaime Mendez, Hugo Alcaraz-Cuellar), La Gran D 99.3 FM (Rene Aleman, Victor Hernandez, Noe Menendez) in Seattle / MLS Direct Kick, MLS MatchDay Live (The Comcast Network feed)

Seattle's Record: 1-2-2, sixth in West

Seattle's Last Match: W, 2-1 vs. Chicago

Philadelphia vs. Seattle Last Season: 1-1-0 (Philadelphia 0 @ Seattle 2 on March 25 in the Union's first ever match; Seattle 1 @ Philadelphia 3 on June 27 in the Union's first ever match at PPL Park)

For the Seattle Perspective, Visit Sounder At Heart

The Union find themselves in a very unfamiliar position heading into tomorrow's match against the Seattle Sounders: atop the Eastern Conference standings, and with some breathing room; second and third place holders Toronto and New England have six points to the Union's nine, and both have that through five regular season matches, while the Union to this point have only played four.

The Sounders come cross-country to the Delaware Valley after a strong 2-1 home victory against the Chicago Fire -- their first of the season -- and are looking to find both offensive and defensive consistency. The Union hope to continue on a similar path defensively to the one they have been on through their first number of matches this year -- a stingy one, one that's not pretty and not perfect, but apparently effective. Emphasis, however, needs to continue to be placed on the Union's offensive struggles.

Last week's preview said this same thing, but it remains true after the club's match last Saturday against New York -- they're somewhat lucky to have the three goals that they do have. It's all well and good to be able to take advantage of turnovers, as Danny Mwanga and Roger Torres did last week, but surely, if the Union wish to keep their top spot in the Eastern Conference, there must be offense coming from situations other than egregious giveaways and the opposing club having a player sent off. The roster certainly has the skill to score multiple goals a match, we know that, so perhaps it really is just a matter of time, and a matter of finding the combinations and setups that gel the best. We'll find out soon enough if this week's the week.

Projected starters and up-to-date injury reports after the jump...

Likely starters:

Philadelphia: Mondragon (C); Harvey, Valdes, Califf, Williams; Mapp, Miglioranzi, Okugo; Ruiz, Mwanga, Le Toux

Seattle: If Montero plays: Keller; Gonzalez, Hurtado, Parke, Riley; Zakuani, Evans, Alonso, Rosales; White, Montero / If Montero doesn't play: Keller; Gonzalez, Hurtado, Parke, Riley; Zakuani, Evans, Alonso, Friberg; White, Rosales

Injury updates:

For Philadelphia, Gabe Farfan has been ruled out with a right toe dislocation, while Brian Carroll is listed as "doubtful" with that right hamstring sprain that he suffered very early in the Union's match last week against New York. Carlos Ruiz is considered "probable" despite a left hamstring sprain.

For Seattle, Fredy Montero has made the trip with the Sounders to Philadelphia as he recovers from a right wrist fracture and is currently considered "questionable" to play.

Of note:

  • The Union seem to be trending up while the Sounders seem to be trending downward, although their huge win last week may be the start of a better stretch of play for them. If I told you last year that one of these two teams had three shutout victories in their first four matches and the other got their first victory of the regular season in their fifth match by a score of 2-1, would you have been able to correctly guess which was the Union and which was the Sounders?
  • Mauro Rosales has been quite the find for Adrian Hanauer and Sigi Schmid, hasn't he? And how about Kasey Keller's world-class saves to preserve Seattle's aforementioned 2-1 victory. And they're about to get back Fredy Montero. Seattle may not have had their preferred start, but don't think for a second that they're not an incredibly dangerous club -- even on the road cross-country.
  • Andrew Chapin will be the match referee tomorrow. In 26 career MLS matches, Chapin has called an average of just under 28 fouls per match and just under five cautions per match. He's handed out a total of eight ejections, and has awarded a total of three penalty kicks.
The Union look to counteract the rain forecast that I suspect the Sounders might have brought with them, and continue to hold the top spot in the Eastern Conference, while Seattle looks to gain a big road result. Join us for a gamethread here tomorrow afternoon/evening -- we hope to chat with you then!