For three weeks straight, the Union have been paired against teams with struggling records in Major League Soccer.
This week, the club faces a Seattle Sounders club (4 p.m., purchase tickets) making an East Coast jaunt coming off a bye week.
They are a club that just like the past two matches against D.C. United and New England have gotten off to a slow start.
But Union manager vows his club isn’t sleeping on Seattle.
Not just because the Sounders despite their woes bring some high powered names, but also because the Union plan to take the lessons learned from a 2-0 hiccup in Foxboro, Mass. last week into this fresh start.
“Seattle is a little different, because everyone knows just how good they are,” Hackworth said during his weekly press conference with media Wednesday. “The talent they have on their roster alone…a team like Seattle, struggling early is a team that all of us in the league would still consider a team that’s going to be around at the end of the day.”
Seattle boasts a goal scoring tandem in forward Eddie Johnson and Nigerian international Obafemi Martins. Johnson has scored in PPL Park before, but as an MLS All-Star last season in a win over Chelsea. Martins netted his first goal for Seattle in its lone win of regular season against Colorado.
“Those two players are two of the best in our league,” said Hackworth. “If they’re in top form, it’s reason why I believe long term this season for Seattle is going to be very successful. One way or another that pairing is going to be dangerous – I just hope it’s not this Saturday.”
Conversely, this is a game the Union plan to use to not only get back into the swing of tough play displayed for much of this season, but it’s a match high on the list of defender Jeff Parke. Parke, 31, played three seasons in Seattle and knows a lot of what head coach Sigi Schmid could potentially have up his sleeve. As the Union look to get back to being an imposing force at home, the defense looks to bolster holes in its design in order to do so.
Much of that Parke knows starts with him, given his veteran presence.
“It’s always a bit of a challenge to play your old team,” said Parke, who also noted playing against New York earlier this season, where he began his MLS career in 2004. “You come out with a different kind of energy but you are with your new team so you want to get a win, so you can walk away with some bragging rights – at least for the year. [Seattle] may be struggling, but they have quality and you have to respect that. But we are going to go out there [with the mindset] that we aren’t going to give them many chances or give them a reason to catch on fire. It’s all about doing the little things right to get this result.
Hackworth echoed the sentiments of his defender and added this gameplan:
“In our first six games we didn't give up many shots at all,” said Hackworth. “In our last two [matches] it has gone the other way. We want to try to find the way we played in the first six. We have to sure up some of our defensive holes that allowed D.C. and New England to get opportunities in the first place. That’s something we worked on in training this week, something we are trying to emphasize. We have to do that in order to be successful against Seattle on Saturday.”
Contact Union writer Kerith Gabriel at firstname.lastname@example.org