Sounders FC (1-2-2) vs. Philadelphia Union (3-1-0)
Saturday, April 16, 1 p.m., PPL Park, Chester, Pa.
Dual broadcast: KONG-6/16 TV, 97.3 KIRO-FM (Arlo White and Erin Mayovsky)
Referee: Andrew Chapin
KEY UNION PLAYERS
F Carlos Ruiz — Here’s a guy Sigi Schmid is familiar with having shared some seasons in L.A. with the Galaxy. According to his former coach, “El Pescadito” dishes out punishment just as much as he receives it. Outsiders know him as a frustrating, yet talented, nuisance. A guy you like on your team and hate to play against.
D Danny Califf — The 31-year-old has a couple handfuls of caps with the U.S. national team. Came into the league with a little fanfare but it doesn’t seem like it’s held up pretty well. If the team keeps up its stingy pace on defense he’ll certainly start to get a little more attention.
GK Faryd Mondragon — The Colombian veteran will have to enjoy being the younger goalkeeper for once. He’s 39 to Keller’s 41. A pretty entertaining dude to follow on Twitter, too. His experience and direction have surely played a part in earning three shutouts this season.
O’Brian White vs. Carlos Valdes — The Sounders FC forward has goals in back-to-back weeks by beating defenders in man-to-man battles for the ball. Valdes (6 feet, 176 pounds) is a 25-year-old Colombian that’s played every minute this season for the Union. Each has represented his country at the national-team level and is surely hungry for more.
Steve Zakuani vs. Sheanon Williams — Right back is not a fun position to play against Seattle. The last two (San Jose’s Chris Leitch and Chicago’s Jalil Anibaba) have found that out the hard way against Zakuani, who has stepped up to help lead the offense with Fredy Montero out. Williams has committed a team-high 8 fouls as well.
Overachievement vs. underachievement — In fairness, Philadelphia probably isn’t as good as its 3-1 record might indicate. Seattle probably is a little better than its 1-2-2 mark implies as well. Will those early trends start to even out on Saturday? Maybe, but home teams have each recorded healthy two-goal wins in the short series so far.
Definitely a tough one to call. No result would surprise me and that’s because I picture it being a low-scoring game. Each of the Union’s games this season has ended up a 1-0 score (three for, one against). We’ll see if the home team plays a conservative, defensive-minded style in front of a packed house.
I think Peter Nowak will definitely want to kept a deliberate pace. Seattle has a lot of dynamic weapons up front and opening up space on the counterattack could be dangerous. No team ever wants to chase a game, but I think Philly isn’t suited well for it.
The Sounders are yet to hold anyone to zero this season and I think this might be a good day to breakthrough in that regard. On the other hand, the offense has been performing well, so maybe that trends backward a bit.
Sounders FC 0, Philadelphia Union 0
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No scoring summary needed this time. What do you think? How do you see it playing out?