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October 8, 2011 at 3:06 PM

Sounders FC vs. Philadelphia Union, preview and prediction

Philadelphia Union Logo.jpgSounders FC (16-6-9) vs. Philadelphia Union (10-7-14)

Saturday, Oct. 8, 7 p.m., CenturyLink Field, Seattle, Wash.

TV/radio: KING-5 TV, 97.3-KIRO FM (Arlo White, Erin Mayovsky)

Spanish TV/radio: THIS-TV/KOMO 4.2 (Ch. 114), La Gran D 99.3 FM

Referee: Baldomero Toledo

KEY UNION PLAYERS

F Sebastien Le Toux — You know him well and he’s arguably the hottest player in MLS. Fredy Montero could rival him for that, but he’s suspended. Leads the team in goals (10) and assists (8). Overcame a slow start and has nine goals since Aug. 13. Work rate always presents issues for a back line.

D Carlos Valdes — Could be Mauro Rosales’ greatest competition for MLS Newcomer of the Year in my opinion. He’s been steady, playing 2,610 minutes (third most on the team). Strong and athletic at 6-foot, 176 pounds. The 26-year-old Colombian has also chipped in a goal and assist. Keep an eye on him on set pieces.

GK Zac MacMath — The rookie will likely be getting his seventh start in a row as Faryd Mondragon is listed as doubtful still with the finger fracture. Has gone 2-0-4 so far as a starter and he’ll have to come up big to stay undefeated. Seattle coach Sigi Schmid said his team will try to make MacMath make lots of decisions, hoping for a slip-up.

KEY MATCHUPS

Lamar Neagle vs. Sheanon Williams — The Federal Way native will be called upon in the Sounders FC attack, especially with Montero out and Rosales/Fernandez as injury doubts. Philadelphia’s right back is somewhat underrated leaguewide and this should be a good battle.

Nate Jaqua vs. Danny Califf — Despite two bad misses, I thought Jaqua had a strong game last week in New England and will get the start. He’s rested after not seeing action Tuesday and will meet his match physically in the strong center back. Wouldn’t be surprised to see these two match up in the run of play and set pieces.

East’s top defense vs. shorthanded offense — The Union has allowed 34 goals this season, by far the best in the Eastern Conference. Seattle has a league-leading 51 goals, but could be without the guys that account for 24 of them in Montero, Rosales and Fernandez. Will the hosts to able to make up for it?

PREDICTION

Not sure I see a lot of goals in this one. I think Seattle might struggle for reasons mentioned above. I think the visitors will too as the Sounders back six (Alonso, Keller, Hurtado, Parke, Riley, Wahl/Gonzalez) appears to be intact and ready to go.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Philadelphia plays for the tie. Three points would be nice in the playoff chase, but I think they’d be happy with one and won’t risk the loss.

Time to predict a result I never hope to see…

Sounders FC 0, Philadelphia Union 0

* * *

What do you think? How do you see it playing out?

COMMENTS

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