When the Philadelphia Union head out to Seattle they will be taking in the experience of CenturyLink Field as clear underdogs. Their offense is poor. The defense shaky. Sagarin has Seattle Sounders FC as huge favorites. With MLS stars like Le Toux and Edu why are the Union sitting at a mere 1-3-5 -2 GD in the early season?
Eugene from the Brotherly Game answers Three Questions to prepare you for the contest.
SaH: How does the Jack Mc for Wenger trade make sense for this year?
BG: As much as was made of the trade, it seems to not have had much effect either way. Wenger has one goal in four games with the Union, which is the same as he had in Montreal. McInerney has one in three with Montreal, and he had one in four games with Philadelphia. Both strikers struggled before the trade, and both seem to be struggling after. The difference is that Montreal has Marco di Vaio as their primary striker with Jack playing his usual second striker/poacher role, while Wenger has mostly played as the lone striker in Philadelphia's 4-3-3/4-5-1 setup.
SaH: Philly only has two shutouts on the year. Is Saturday's game going to be an attempt at keeping pace with the Sounders' attack?
BG: As much as I'd personally like to see that, I doubt it. The Union have played conservative soccer, registering 33 shots on goal over nine games. The offense can't seem to shoot - let alone score - so I imagine they will play deep and look to keep the Seattle forwards off of the ball.
SaH: What has Maurice Edu meant to the team after all the efforts to bring him back to MLS?
BG: Maurice has been a great addition to the Union, both on and off of the pitch. He has brought a skill level as well as a level of professionalism to the clubhouse that hasn't been seen here since the departure of Colombian legend Faryd Mondragón. Off the field, he has been a great ambassador for the club, engaging fans on twitter and at meet and greet events. It will be very interesting to see how the club performs if he gets called up to USMNT camp by Jürgen Klinsmann. I hope the club can retain Maurice after his loan expires - he's been a bright spot in an otherwise drab season for the Union.
Significant Absence: None
Projected Lineup: MacMath; Fabinho,Okugo, Wheeler, Williams; Carroll, Edu, Noguiera, Maidana, Cruz; Wenger
Prediction: Unfortunately Seattle is far too strong and will exploit the Union's weaknesses on defense repeatedly. 3-0 Sounders
BG: Seattle is undoubtedly the best team in the league right now. What, if anything, is a weakness that Philadelphia might be able to exploit?
SaH: There are still gaps in the defense at times. If a team can get into the the space between Alonso and the CBs faster than Alonso can fill it there will be an opportunity there (Toronto did it). There other opportunity that teams are trying to explore is where Yedlin would be if it wasn't awesome. A left winger with a great cross may be able to take advantage of that. But it means slipping a cross through Chad Marshall's air defense zone.
Most teams are really just stuck trying to hope that Seattle makes a dumb mistake.
BG: How much of Seattle's success is due to Clint Dempsey? Was he worth the price?
SaH: A lot of it, but not all of it. The team would have to play a lot differently, but the scoring ability of Obafemi Martins, Lamar Neagle, Kenny Cooper and Chad Barrett is pretty obvious. What Clint does is move the peak ability of the squad from one that is decent when compared to MLS sides to one that looks as good as any team in the DP era. My main regret is that Seattle isn't in the CCL right now.
BG: Seattle is a team full of big name players. Who flies under the radar that Union fan should know about?
SaH: Gonzalo Pineda is a recent addition from Liga MX. He's kind of a left-footed version of Brad Evans. He occupies space well, is a quick passer and is able to serve a good dead ball. You aren't going to notice what he does, but the support that he provides sitting next to Alonso is quite valuable in Seattle's system.
Projected Starting XI: Frei; Remick, Traore, Marshall, Yedlin; Pineda, Alonso; Neagle, Dempsey, Evans; Martins