Seattle Sounders FC vs. Philadelphia Union at Qwest Field, Seattle.
All-time record: First meeting
9:30 p.m. ET on ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes
What's at stake?
Philadelphia faces a tough task in the franchise’s first-ever game: go into the raucous environment of Qwest Field and try to earn a result against a powerful Sounders FC squad. Sebastien Le Toux, a fan favorite during his tenure in Seattle, returns to the Pacific Northwest after being selected by Union in the 2009 Expansion Draft.
[inline_node:293076]This time last year we all assumed a revamped and speedy New York side would embarrass the green-in-every-way Seattle franchise on its home debut. Instead, the Sounders—backed by 34,000 fans—tore apart the disorganized Red Bulls. It all began in the 11th minute when Osvaldo Alonso broke free to feed Le Toux, who then fed newcomer Fredy Montero. The Colombian striker took no time endearing himself to the home fans, firing a shot into the bottom corner for Seattle's first-ever goal. Sublime.
Heroes & Villains ...
Philadelphia’s strike force vs. Seattle’s center backs: How will Philadelphia create goals? Le Toux could be one option, as could aging Venezuelan speedster Alejandro Moreno. Another possibility could be No. 1 SuperDraft pick Danny Mwanga, who grew up in Portland and attended Oregon State University. If he doesn’t start, Mwanga could come off the bench to provide additional scoring punch. Finding the net could be difficult for Union: Seattle allowed only 29 goals in all of 2009 and has all their defensive pieces back, including a superb shot-stopper and excellent organizer in goalkeeper Kasey Keller.
Stefani Miglioranzi vs. Osvaldo Alonso: With Brazilian playmaker Fred suspended after a red card to finish the 2009 season, the battle in the center of the park will likely come down to these two players. How will the crafty Migloranzi fare against Seattle’s Cuban destroyer? The victor of this battle will likely win the war. If Philadelphia fails to make any headway down the center of the park, Union’s talented attackers won’t even sniff the goal.
Stat that makes you go, “Hmm …”
Why the schedule makers would have the league’s newest franchise head into one of the most difficult environments in Major League Soccer is a head-scratcher. Buoyed by their noisy home fans, Seattle dismantled the New York Red Bulls 3-0 in MLS First Kick 2009. Peter Nowak hopes his troops will fare better and may come out with an all-out attacking game plan to catch Seattle off-guard.
He said it
“Peter [Nowak] is a good coach. His team is going to be well organized. They have kept their lineup a secret all the way through preseason.” —Seattle head coach Sigi Schmid on Philadelphia’s approach.