Match preview: Union look to find goal scoring form against West leaders Seattle (10 p.m., TCN)
Philadelphia Union (1-3-5, eight points) at Seattle Sounders FC (5-2-1, 16 points)
When: Saturday, 10 p.m.; Where: Century Link Field, Seattle, Wash.
TV: The Comcast Network featuring play-by-play announcer JP Dellacamera and color analyst Peter Pappas
Game notes (PDF): Click here
So here we are.
Game No. 10 of the Major League Soccer season for the Philadelphia Union will be a West Coast jaunt to take on Seattle, a team riding a three-game unbeaten streak that has vaulted it to tops of the Western Conference following a sputtering start to the season.
Much of the success is team related, but it’s hard to denounce the recent run of form from U.S. men’s national team forward Clint Dempsey. Dempsey leads the League with eight goals, six of which have come in three of Seattle’s last four matches.
Factor in the raucous atmosphere from Seattle’s supporters, the primetime (on the West Coast, at least) exposure and the wide open space…this is a game that returning with three points in hand could do a great deal for the Union in the confidence department.
Especially heading into yet another three-game in eight day span beginning with a match at PPL Park next Saturday against rivals D.C. United (4 p.m., purchase tickets).
“We have to start a good run of form, we have to stop the bleeding, said Union defender Amobi Okugo. “I feel like if we can turn it around and get a good result against Seattle it will give our team a ton of confidence.”
The players know it. What better way to snap out of a goal scoring funk than to score enough against a quality MLS opponent to pull points?
To do so, it’s not going to just be Dempsey that defensively the Union will have to keep tabs on. Midfielder Lamar Neagle is great at getting himself in the right place at the right time and his three goals on the season prove that point. Also, Obafemi Martins has been a terror as well alongside Dempsey doubles as a playmaker, leading the club with four goals this season. The trio form an attack complemented by Kenny Cooper and Marco Pappa that have Seattle tied for the longest win streak in the league this season (three) and just two shy of the all-time club record.
“I think we are going up against the hottest team in the league right now,” Union manager John Hackworth said during his midweek press conference. “It starts with Clint [Dempsey], and [Obafemi] Martins up front, they are very dynamic… in particular when you play in Seattle it has got to be arguably one of the toughest places to play, loud, difficult surfaces to play on; all of those factors make this a big challenge for us.”
But Hackworth doesn’t see it as an impossible one.
“You look at the way we have played and this kind of game sets up maybe better for us than it did last weekend [in a loss to Montreal],” he continued. “I think they are going to try to play, I think there is going to be more space in the midfield, more space in the final third, that should make for an interesting contest, and again it will be a little bit of a battle to see who wins those, those spots on the field, but it should open up opportunities.”
Can't deny that the Union reign supreme at creating opportunities. This weekend in Seattle it will be imperative that a few of them find the back of the net.
“Look, none of us are happy in this locker room right now,” Union midfielder Maurice Edu told reporters. “We have to get out of this funk and finish our chances. I know Seattle is a good team, but we’re a good team too. I feel like at this point, the talk is cheap. We need to go out there and prove it. What better way than against a proven club like Seattle?”
What do you think the Union need to do to find success in Seattle? Leave a comment below.
Contact Union digital editor Kerith Gabriel at firstname.lastname@example.org