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Four questions with Philly Soccer Now

Our old colleagues from SB Nation give us the lowdown.

Last Updated
5 min read
Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The Seattle Sounders will have another 84 minutes to find their first road win of 2024. The resumption of the rain-suspended match offers an interesting nearly-forced lineup for both sides as they come off weekend losses with rotated squads.

Philly is now 3-1-4, +4, but is only 1-1-1 at home. Seattle is 1-5-3, -1 with a 0-4-1 road record. A high match-density month is underway.

Answering Four Questions for Philly Soccer Now is Joe Lister.

SaH: Who from the XI and 20 aren’t available now due to injury or other absence?

PSN: Jim Curtin just announced goalkeeper Andre Blake will be a game-time decision for the Union. The goalkeeper has been in and out of the lineup this season with injury concerns, and he didn’t look sharp during the 2-1 loss against Real Salt Lake. I can’t ever remember a time when Blake lost the Union a game on his own, but he might’ve done that with his missed save on RSL’s first goal. Other than that, the squad is healthy and free of any referee trouble.

SaH: A lot went right for Philly in the early season. How did Salt Lake stop that streak?

PSN: I have no idea. Philadelphia was the better team in that match based on stats and the eye test. They simply couldn’t finish (see: Daniel Gazdag’s missed sitter in the second half. Talk about make-or-break). I don’t necessarily think the Union will turn that loss into a stretch of bad form, it was just an unlucky game. We’ll see how the loss factors into the team’s mentality, but after captain Ale Bedoya nearly cursed out his teammates, I don’t think it’ll continue.

SaH: Who will be on short rest after that match?

PSN: Julian Carranza, Bedoya, Gazdag, and Jack McGlynn all played the entire match on Saturday, along with several defensive players. I’d expect to see almost nothing from Bedoya – it was surprising they played him a full 90 minutes to begin with. Gazdag and Carranza may be second-half subs, though Gazdag could still start given the depth at the No. 10 position. I think we’ll see a good amount of McGlynn, but midfielder Leon Flach was recently taken off the injury list for the first time this season and could slot in there for some solid minutes.

SaH: Anyone in good form now that should concern Seattle fans?

PSN: I know I just talked down on Gazdag with his miss, but he also had a really nice goal earlier in the match. He earned a lot of criticism for scoring mostly on penalty kicks last season, but he’s done a lot better in the run of play this year. He’s not at a point where I’d bet on him scoring, but he’s definitely warm. 

The same goes for Quinn Sullivan, a young winger who's exploded onto the scene this year. He isn't racking up the goals or assists to really prove himself, but he's due. He's been dominant down the right flank, often just because he's the fastest guy on the field. Sullivan has a great motor and it's really boosted him this season. While Blake could be out, I don't think Union fans are worried about his replacement. Oliver Semmle has done some fantastic work this season. If Blake's injuries continue to wear on him, I think the Union will see Semmle as their next franchise goalkeeper.


PSN: Seattle’s had a tough stretch this season, losing every game it plays on the road. What’s going on there?

SaH: Death by a thousand cuts isn’t just a cliche, it’s a list of what’s wrong with the Sounders in 2024. Somewhere between one and three players are performing at or above expectations. The rest are either failing to generate scoring opportunities or helping the other team score against them (Yeimar, a former Defender of the Year candidate, has tried that twice… once it worked). Run of play goals are infrequent because the three forwards, all with histories of success, are adding a season of sorrow to their stories. The coaching staff has tried a base 4-2-3-1, a version of a 4-4-1-1 and even a 3-5-1 (this kinda worked).

They did get a road point, a nil-nil in Dallas, which is rather bad in 2024. It's Seattle's only road result. Somehow, despite the problems listed above, the four losses resulted in only a -4 goal differential. The Sounders still keep things really close and in the matches against San Jose and DC they looked capable of at least drawing. Those are tiny hollow 'victories' though. Seattle under Brian Schmetzer is typically a great road team, and there's time to get there. Being a strong road team in MLS can be as simple as winning three matches away from home. 

PSN: Like the Union, the Sounders have a quick turnaround from their match against D.C. How will Seattle rotate?

SaH: The biggest attempt at rotation was that both Jordan Morris and Raúl Ruidíaz played only a half against DCU. Léo Chú also didn't play much, as he was taken off when Frei committed a red card. Those three, who will be vital to getting the offense going against Philly, are rested. Also, the entire backline did not play against United. But they don't have Xavi Arreaga anymore, so his replacement will be someone who played on Saturday. Cristian Roldan will not be rested. He played a lot starting at right back and finished at right wing. Josh Atencio is the only other player from the XI against Union the first time we tried this who went 90. 

PSN: What’s good about this Seattle team?

SaH: Outside of the loss to Vancouver they look capable of good soccer for stretches of any game. They don't get blown out – they just fizzle. When fully functional they can look very good. That Montreal match was a joy. But the central midfielders that helped fuel that are not available Tuesday night. Circling back to the first answer, Andrew Thomas is good. He's exceeding expectations and looking like a league-average starting keeper so far. He's the best athlete on the team. Josh Atencio is another one who has been mostly good with some great, and one match that wasn't good. Atencio could wind up at the Olympics.  

PSN: Will the Sounders have any notable absences? What are your score and lineup predictions?

SaH: Xavi Arreaga was traded to New England at the deadline. He'll be replaced by either Yeimar or Jonathan Bell. Danny Musovski was injured against United, and so will likely not be on the bench as he was in the original match. I'm dreaming of Seattle stealing three points with a 1-nil result powered by being much fresher after the weekend matches. I also think they'll stay in the formation from the 4-4-1-1 since the best 10 available due to the match suspension went 90.

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