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Preview for Match Day One 2010: Sounders Host Union

The dawn of the 2010 MLS season starts at around dusk in Seattle on March 25th. The Seattle Sounders will be defending a US Open Cup, but more than that they will be looking to improve on what was a great first season, but only good if not an expansion side.

Hosting the expansion Philadelphia Union with former Sounder Sebastien Le Toux certainly in the starting lineup, but possibly as a wide midfielder with Danny Mwanga and Alejandro Moreno up top. The Union have a strong backline anchored with Danny Califf and Michael Orozco. But overall they are a young team. Not just new. Straight up young. Four of their players were born in the 90s.

Seattle has played as the expansion side before though. They should have learned not to take any opponent lightly as many took them last year, and they underperformed against San Jose. This year expectations are higher.

Sigi - "Expectations always grow. You want to continue to build on the nucleus of players that you have put together. Hope that the nucleus individually improves and collectively the understanding of each other gets better and better. That’s something that we want to continue to do. We are always looking at any other options for us and anything else we can do to improve our team so we are always prepared to do that. It’s more about individuals improving and as individuals improve then we improve as a team."

Bloggers and other prognosticators are predicting multiple Cups for the Sounders in 2010 (Supporters Shield, US Open Cup and MLS Cup), and honestly the Sounders expect to make that run. Sure, they didn't add a big name over the off season, with their two new additions (so far) being an 18 year old Colombian product signed from a 2nd division Argentine side and a Senior out of UCLA. The staff is counting on a chemistry and character improvement to get them to the World Cup and Blaise Nkufo to carry them from July to November.

How will the Sounders defeat a team without a history, without a star? How will the 2010 Sounders lineup without James Riley, and a currently injured Nate Jaqua?

Zakuani       Levesque
Gonzalez       ?Ianni or Scott?
  Hurtado   Marshall  

Availabe Subs(A guess) - Boss, Ianni or Scott, Nyassi, Estrada, Sturgis, Wahl and one of King or Fucito. You all know who I would pick of that. That formation has a lot of experience together on the left side, and up the spine. If Scott starts at RWB he and Levesque would at least have some experience together though in very different roles.

Keys to Match

1 - Freddyain(that's exactly two guys names Fredie) - These two have to play well together. Last season the younger Fredy kept interfering with the older Freddie. This disrupted the attacking flow so that the midfielders didn't know who would be where (sometimes it was both of them). It also meant that the team couldn't capitalize on having one of the 10 most talented players in the league. Ljungberg didn't put up the offensive numbers that he needs to for the Sounders Goals For total to explode.

2 - Quick Pass System- The Sounders are best when playing a quick pass and run system. The players should get 3 touches at most and then find the open man. There are plenty of quick players on the pitch and they love to flood them all forward counting on the defensive triangle of Hurtado, Marshall and Keller to slow the counter. Sigi's Game counts on making the other team run backwards and if the Sounders pull it off they don't use a target man, but look like a less skilled Arsenal.

Freddie Ljungberg -  "I think we are trying to develop our game a bit more this season, trying to play a bit more of a complex game. I think last season we played quite simple because we didn’t know each other very well. But there will be times this season when the leaders who are in charge of how we are going to play will tell other people that we are doing something wrong because we are trying to implement something new, not new but it’s certain plays that we want to have as our foundation to stand on and then it is very important that certain plays are run at the right time, at the right place. If that doesn’t work out, you need to talk about it on the pitch. That’s part of everyone getting better and it’s important that everybody works to get better."

3 - Stay Cautious not Cautioned- They can't lose the head game. The Rave Green's ability to draw fouls is great, but they also too often responded in kind. As the second offenders they suffered from Reds and Accumalation too often. James Riley is out of this game, and there is no need to let floppy Moreno get into Hurtado or Marshall's head.

4 - Earn the Corners- Keep blasting the ball at the Union Keeper. Keep up the pressure. The Sounders were a good MLS level team when it comes to the corner and they must continue it this season. Plus, if they regularly and routinely attack the goal the opposition will make a mistake, especially a young and inexperienced opponent.

5 - Beware the Counter- Last season at Qwest many opponents bunkered, using 8, 9 or even 10 players behind the ball with few able to attack. But these counters were effective enough to slow the Sounders offense down. They were 10th in goals at home while 5th on the road (though scoring fewer). It is not that the Sounders give up goals via the counter, it is that the change of possession pushes the ball all the way back to their own third. They can't get caught up in the long ball game if this happens. Instead they must stick to Sigi's Game. Sigi on the Union's intent to counter

"I think they are going to look to counter attack. I think they are going to be somewhat conservative in their play. So it depends what you call packing it in. I think they are going to attack from a defensive posture. But I know Peter Nowak, too. He likes to attack and so he is going to try to get them forward on the counter and do some things well."

Notes- TV is ESPN2 with JP Dellacamera, John Harkes, Allen Hopkins. Radio on 97.3 will be Thom Beuning and Pete Fewing.

Sons of Ben, the Philly supporter group traveled with more than 60. SBNation has launched a Philly Blog

David Estrad and Mike Fucito both signed contracts today and are now officially Sounders. Jeff Parke remains in camp.

I will be pregaming at Eylsian Fields.

BayAreaRefugee will be hosting the gamethread.

What do you want to see early to indicate that Sounders will earn 3 points? What are you most excited for in Match Day One 2010?

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