The Seattle Sounders square off at home against the Philadelphia Union tonight in Sodo.
Seattle vs. Philly is always an interesting game for me. I have a soft spot for the Union, but it has nothing to do with their city. They are, along with Columbus and Real Salt Lake, one of the three teams in MLS I feel passive affection for.
Columbus is a joy to watch. Gregg Berhalter coaches the hell out of that team and Higuain is a magician. They play the pretty, attacking football that I love.
RSL, though it is hard to feel anything other than apathy or anger for a Western Conference foe, deserves respect. And hell, not even grudging respect. I openly respect that team, and if you stood in the rain for hours of a scoreless epic to finally see Mario Martinez blast in a one-timer past the indomitable Nick Rimando… Respect.
Philly I just kinda feel sorry for. Their supporters care. They fill the stadium and the team never, ever gives them anything to be proud of. Then somehow they dumbed their way to the USOC Finals two years in a row, falling to us and then SKC in heartbreaking-extra-time-fashion (SKC on penalties!). That’s gotta be rough.
At least this season, and god knows it’s still early, their fans have something to cheer for. That’s a nice change for the denizens of the Delaware.
But this game is about the Sounders.
Last week’s win was the best draw since the 4-4 classic in Portland. It is a draw that can right a listing season. The 0-3 start was bad, but 1-4 would’ve been much worse. At 1-3-1, and with a home match against the Eastern Conference, the Sounders have a chance to, if not build momentum, at least attain an equilibrium.
We all knew we fell on the very harsh side of those first three games. Did we “deserve” a result a Houston? Probably not, but we also didn’t deserve 0 points from our first three. This is merely regression to the mean.
The Sounders are still figuring things out: where and when to start Ivanschitz and Morris and Herc and Anderson. I expect more tinkering today. I don’t know if Herc is 90 minutes fit, or if it is smart to start Anderson just yet, but those two players are key to the Sounders having a facsimile of an attack.
BOLD PREDICTION: Valdez could return today, as could Friberg. This creates good competition for selection. I don’t think Sigi shakes up the starting 11 too much, but he’s got his hand on the trigger to get Herc and Anderson in if need be.
Philly is not a good road team, they lost to Chicago in Chicago. But the Union don’t allow too many goals (thanks to Andre Blake). Despite a solid 7 goals in 5 games, Philly mostly wins tense affairs (outside their 3-0 whupping of New England), with only four goals in their other four games.
I see a close, well-contest game tonight. I am giving Seattle home field advantage: Sounders 1-0, but on a set piece.