Game #1 Preview: Seattle vs. Philadelphia
Seattle Sounders vs. Philadelphia Union
Jonathan Tannenwald over at Philly.com got a hold of some game notes citing a possible 4-3-3 line-up that could look like this:
The Sounders have a couple guys sick (Vagenas and Zakuani) and injured and their line-up may or may not look like this. Prediction taken from…
Only two expansion clubs have won their inaugural opener: the 1998 Chicago Fire and last year’s Seattle Sounders. Let’s hope we can make that three.
If we can score first against the Sounders, there’s a good chance we can take the game. In front of 40,000+ home supporters, it should be tough to do but if Seattle scores first, there’s a good chance we’re walking away with zilch (10-1-3 when scoring first). Another thing that doesn’t bode particularly well (sorry for all the negative talk) – with games that are nationally televised, the Sounders are 3-1-4.
South Jersey’s own Stephen King could see the field vs. the Union. Hailing from the Philly suburb of Medford, N.J., King was South Jersey’s Player of the Year twice and has slowly started to make a name for himself in Seattle. Jeff Parke - a trialist right now but expected to sign – is also with the Sounders. He featured a while for the Red Bulls before trying his hand in Belgium. No dice there so he’s back with Seattle, who own his rights.
It’s a homecoming for Sebastien Le Toux. Seb was loved dearly in Seattle but now looks to ruin the Sounders opening night by matching or doubling his goal total (1) from 2009 tomorrow. Though he didn’t score much during Seattle’s inaugural year, he was a goal scoring machine at the USL-1 level. His drop in production, however, could partially be due to the fact he was played “out of position” most of last season, featuring more on the wing.
The Union are in Seattle for the Sounders home opener. It’s only fitting that they reciprocate. The Sounders will be the opponent on June 27th at PPL Park.
For the Union, Fred most definitely thanks to an errant red card received in the 2009 season finale. Other probables are Amobi Okugo, Roger Torres, and Seb Le Toux (all sprains of some sort). Young fullback Dave Myrie also has a sprain. All are probable.
James Riley for the Sounders. The fullback most known for his horrendous own goal in a San Jose uniform has the same affliction Fred does – a last minute red card to end the 2009 season. Riley, however, did start 27 games last season for the Sounders and was a pretty vital piece of their back four.
Target man Nate Jaqua will also be out as he’s still recovering from a somewhat long-term injury.
Luckily for us, newly signed striker Blaise N’Kufo (check the Dutch Eredivisie scoring charts, he’s almost always near the top) will not be joining the Sounders until early summer. Unfortunately, there’s still two guys named Fredy (Freddie) that we have to worry about. They also just signed their third Colombian, an 18-year old striker named Miguel Montano. No word as to whether or not he’ll be cleared to play.
Keys to the game
Containing their two biggest attacking threats in Fredy Montero and Freddie Ljungberg. Steve Zakuani can be particularly dangerous as well if you give him space on the wings (and assuming he can finish).
Not bunkering down. Nowak’s possible 4-3-3 ensures that he isn’t going to come out playing pure catenaccio but the only way to really thwart a Sounders attack is to put them on their heels. We have the pace on the wings to do just that as well as some pesky guy named Moreno up front who loves to poach defensive mistakes.
The key match-up will be the midfields – if Okugo and Torres are joining Miglioranzi out there, that’s two 18-year olds vs. two of the best central midfielders in Major League Soccer – Brad Evans and Osvaldo Alonso. Alonso is a true ball-winner, we must play to the wings.
The service of Jordan Harvey and Michael Orozco from the backline is big too. We have an advantage in that regard but we have to exploit it (over Ianni and Gonzalez).
Seattle has familiarity – they have kept a core nucleus intact from the 2009 season. We don’t have that so it’s truly going to be “baptism by fire” as MLSNet puts it. That’s going to be the fun of it all. It’s also going to be frustrating as well from a Seattle standpoint. They know little about this squad and are going to have to go off of individual scouting reports aggregated together to try and guess how Nowak is going to position these guys.
Chris Seitz in net. It could be the beginning of long, rewarding career for the youngster as he gets his first real shot at glory.
So what’s your prediction?