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Match preview: Philadelphia Union vs Seattle Sounders

Photo: Kyle Grantham

Who: Philadelphia Union vs Seattle Sounders

What: MLS Regular Season, Matchday 4 (It’s really Matchday 3, but the Miami/RSL opener apparently was deserving of its own Matchday number)

Where: Subaru Park, Chester, Pennsylvania

When: Saturday, March 9th, 7:30 pm Eastern

Watch: Apple TV – MLS Season Pass

Whistle: Not available at time of publication

The Philadelphia Union take on the Seattle Sounders this Saturday evening, with both teams still searching for their first regular-season win.

The last time these sides took to the field against one another was nearly five years ago on May 18, 2019; that game ending in a 0-0 draw at then Talon Energy Stadium.

The Union hold the edge against Seattle all-time with five wins to Seattle’s four.  They have drawn four times.

Scouting Report: Seattle Sounders

Seattle followed up its 1-2 road loss against LAFC on opening weekend with a scoreless draw at home against Austin last weekend.

Despite taking 23 shots (four on goal), they could not find the back of the net against Austin, who seemed willing to settle for the road point (Austin took only two total shots and finished the match with a 0.1 xG).

Notwithstanding the inability to finish offensively, Headcoach Brian Schmetzer will take solace in the clean sheet, which he hopes is a positive, early sign that his side can achieve the same defensive supremacy as they did in 2023 when they conceded just 32 regular-season goals, which tied for the fewest in MLS.

A lack of goals through their first two matches has undoubtedly been a symptom of injuries to key players.

Midfielders Albert Rusnak and Joao Paulo have been out of the lineup thus far. Rusnak acquired an ankle injury during the team’s final preseason training session, and Paulo is working through a hampering hip injury sustained during the offseason. While speaking with press on Thursday, Schmetzer advised that neither player will be traveling to Philadelphia.

Schmetzer also confirmed that goalkeeper Stefan Frei will not be available for selection again. They were eyeing tomorrow’s match as a potential return date for the injured veteran goalkeeper, but Schmetzer confirmed he’s shut down for this weekend, and they’ll reassess next week.

These injuries are all in addition to the unfortunate news from this past weekend that star DP winger Pedro de la Vega is out for six to eight weeks with a right hamstring injury he sustained during last week’s game against Austin.

Regardless, Seattle still has plenty of weapons to lean on to find some goals in Chester on Saturday.

USMNT forward Jordan Morris led the team in scoring last year with 11 goals and is always a threat to score when he’s on the field.

Peruvian forward Raul Ruidiaz is back for his eighth season with the club. Although he hasn’t shown the same flare as he did during his prime goal-scoring years from 2018 to 2021 (partly due to on-and-off injuries), the 33-year-old has a knack for finding goals whenever he’s in the lineup.

Injury Report: De La Vega (OUT) Rusnak (OUT) Paulo (OUT) Frei (OUT) Baker-Whiting (OUT) Rodrigues (OUT) Nathan (OUT – Non-Injury)

Scouting Report: Philadelphia Union

Philadelphia battled to a 0-0 draw against Liga MX side Pachuca midweek in the first game of a two-leg series in the Concacaf Champions Cup – Round of 16.  That match came just three days after the team grinded out a 1-1 draw at Kansas City on Saturday thanks to a stoppage-time equalizer by veteran Alejandra Bedoya.

Saturday’s match against Seattle will be the club’s sixth in the last 19 days. It will be Seattle’s third game in that same time frame.

The schedule congestion does not ease up as the Union will play leg two of their Champions Cup series in Pachuca this coming Tuesday.

Head coach Jim Curtin will, again, face the challenge of implementing a rotated squad against the Sounders in order for key players to preserve energy for Tuesday’s important Champions Cup match.

His lineup solution may be similar to that which was utilized last week against Kansas City, where Curtin was facing the same rotational challenges.

Centerbacks Jack Elliot and Damion Lowe were unavailable on Tuesday against Pachuca due to red card and yellow card suspensions, so Union fans should expect to see one, if not both players in the starting lineup on Saturday.

Midfielder Jesus Bueno was not called upon until the 74′ against Pachuca, which makes him a solid bet to start Saturday’s match.

Homegrown’s Quinn Sullivan and Jack McGlynn are the only two Union players to have started all five games this season. Both players have been excellent thus far this season and Curtin will want both players as fresh as possible for leg two against Pachuca on Tuesday.  I’d expect both players to be available off the bench.

Speaking to the press Friday afternoon, Curtin says he’s hoping forward Julian Carranza will be available for tomorrow but that “we’ll see.”

Forwards Chris Donovan, Markus Anderson, and Tai Baribo (whom Union fans are eager to see take the field) are replacement options should Carranza remain unavailable.

Injury Report: Carranza (QUESTIONABLE), Flach (OUT), LeFlore (OUT)

Key Matchup: Highly Rotated vs Highly Injured

The Union have been dealing with a crowded fixture schedule and are forced to rotate from their preferred starting eleven, while Seattle is unable to field their top lineup due to ongoing injuries.  This match will be a test of depth for both sides.

Player to Watch: Josh Atencio

The 22-year-old is developing into an excellent midfielder for Brian Schemtzer’s side.  The Homegrown signed a four-year deal this offseason and has impressed in Seattle’s first two matches, logging six shots last week against Austin.

Prediction:  Philadelphia 1 – 1 Seattle

Union fans are eager to celebrate a home win. But another draw in the middle of this intense schedule congestion against a capable Seattle side would be an understandable, and mostly positive, result on what is forecasted to be a rainy Saturday.










One Comment

  1. I’ve got all my (2) MLS predictions right so far this season, prediction, 0-0 game. Rotated Union Have no Carranza or Uhre in the starting lineup. Donovan, Anderson start along with Gazdag. Seattle dominate match but misfire a ton. As they did against Austin. Blake gets MOTM

    Prove me wrong Union!

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