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Seattle Sounders at Philadelphia Union - Three Questions with Brotherly Game

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Getty Images for New York Red Bu

As the Seattle Sounders have been enjoying Philadelphia and about to be in wonderful Chester, Scott Kessler of www.BrotherlyGame.com and I talked about what you must know about the Union.

Dave Clark: Nowak is getting the results right now, but is the defense and a lucky shot technique sustainable?

Kessler: The defense quite possibily is, but the offense is absolutely not. Something has to give eventually for the Union's offense. Carlos Ruiz, Sebastien Le Toux, Danny Mwanga and Jack McInerney are better than the 10 shots-on-goal that the four have managed so far this season.


The question for Nowak is, when will he change up the front pairing? Le Toux hasn't found chemistry with Ruiz so far this season and has suffered from not having great help from the midfield this season (along with an ankle injury). He's going to find his game at some point and then the Union's offense will finally turn around.


That or Ruiz finds the bench in favor of Danny Mwanga.

DC: What has meant more for the rebuilt defense - Faryd Mondragon or the new backline?

Brotherly Game: Can the answer be both? The team's organization has never been better. The defense has never been better.


Carlos Valdes has either helped Danny Califf turn into a better player, or he's aided Califf in finding the Fountain of Youth. Califf has seemed faster, stronger, roaming with more awareness and shutting down the opposition's attack. Valdes has played to higher plaudits than even Califf. The 25-year-old Colombian quickly has cemented himself as a top centerback in MLS. His one drawback is that he's prone to a card every now-and-then.


Mondragon isn't what he used to be in Germany or Turkey, but he's still a great goalkeeper. He's been slow on a couple of shots (namely Agudelo's two shots in the New York Red Bulls game), but has managed to keep out all but one goal. Even that goal wasn't his fault. Stefani Miglioranzi lost his mark on Leonardo for the Los Angeles Galaxy's winning goal. He won't keep his pace of .25 GAA, but he'll continue to push for the league's best ever GAA rate at this pace. Never ending barking at his defense has led to the Union not breaking down and keeping strong towards the home net. It's something that did not happen last season.

DC: With offensive talent like Carlos Ruiz, Danny Mwanga and Sebastien Let Toux why aren't they even generating shots, let along goals?

Scotty: At first it was chemistry. Then it was the midfield. Then it was the formation. At this point, it could be Ruiz, though he's accounted for a couple himself. It seems as though this team is disjointed when he's playing, but finds new life when younger players come on (Okugo, Mwanga and Torres).


Best thing I can say to do is read my answer to question one and rinse and repeat until it finally changes.

Bonus Question: PPL Park is being considered as a possible home venue for the Villanova football team. The expansion I read about would add nearly 10,000 seats. Are the Union ready for that much more capacity?

BG: Not yet. A stadium that can allow for up to the 19057 (give or take a few people) fans is perfect for the team right now. At most the team should look into adding the 2000 seats it plans on eventually extending the River End (where the Sons of Ben sit). 30000 will take away from the packed feel of the stadium and potentially turn it into a less threatening stadium for opposing players. That's not what the team, or fans, would want. Though the team brought in upwards of 30000 for their games in the Linc, a 3000 stadium  is not what the team should think about yet. If it was time, the team would have already begun the steps to make it happen.

* * *

SK: With the injuries and transfers off the team (like Blaise Nfuko), how have the Sounders found offensive rhythm so far this season?

Dave Clark: Seattle doesn't really have an offensive rhythm at this time. When Montero is on the pitch 98% of plays will go through he or Steve Zakuani. But the injuries have made that moot and so Seattle's offense is more diverse than it used to be. It can attack through the right wing by either Mauro Rosales or Erik Friberg offering service into O'Brian White as the target man, or darting in themselves to put a low cross into the 6.
 
In the long run this is going to be good for Seattle because it is forcing them to learn other methods of attack besides give the ball to Freddy Montero and wait for amazing. This is increasing both off-ball initial runs, as well as stronger secondary runs by Brad Evans and others that drift into the second layer at times.

Kessler: When does Kasey Keller truly show his age? Has he lost anything physically this season?

Dave Clark: Keller doesn't have quite the spring that he did in the past. He's still good, but his shot stopping is merely league average. He's getting by now through immense experience and doing alright with it.
 
One strength of Keller's that is often overlooked is his distribution and backline leadership. He puts the ball back in play rather quickly, and rarely goes for a 50/50 punt when he can throw it out with greater accuracy and potency. His leading the backline has been vital due to the multiple pairings that have occurred at centerback and will continue throughout the year.

Kessler: Is Fredy Montero going to be a factor if he plays in his cast?

Dave Clark: This weekend I expect him to be the third sub at most. Seattle has other offensive options, and though Montero will be in Philly there is likely some chess playing going on with whether he starts/not, and plays/not. Sigi is forcing Nowak to think.