Match previews / MLS / Union

Match Preview: Philadelphia Union vs Seattle Sounders

Photo by Daniel Gajdamowicz

Who: Philadelphia Union vs Seattle Sounders

What: MLS Regular Season Game

 Where: Subaru Park

When: 7:30 PM EDT April 30th, 2024

Watch: Apple TV – MLS Season Pass

Whistle: TBA

After a monsoon-induced postponement on March 9th, the Philadelphia Union and Seattle Sounders will finally face off. It has been five years since the Union and Sounders have met in MLS. The Boys in Blue have the edge in the all-time record with five wins and 14 goals scored compared to Seattle’s four wins and 11 goals scored. Both teams have tied three times. 

The Union are looking to return to winning ways after suffering their first loss against RSL on Saturday. Their 3-4-1 record places them 7th in the East. Meanwhile, the usually mighty Sounders are struggling for form this year and just lost back-to-back games. They find themselves 13th in the West with a 1-3-5 record.

What are the rules?

Because this game was postponed following the initial match day squads being named, there will be some unique rules regarding player availability. 


2024 MLS Match Delay, Postponement, Cancellation and Forfeiture Policy

The club’s Official Match Rosters are frozen on the match recommencement day, subject to the exceptions below:

“… any player in-play at the time the match was postponed, who is subsequently injured or unavailable due to a trade, loan, or transfer before the resumption of the match and cannot participate can only be replaced by a substitute on the Official Match Roster of the postponed match. Such a replacement will not count against the team’s substitution windows.  For any open substitute position(s) in a recommenced match that was originally filled for the postponed match but is now vacant due to an injury or unavailable player, clubs may place any player(s) from their active Club Roster as of the date of the postponed match on the Official Match Roster as a substitute(s), including a player(s) who was officially unavailable due to international duty as of the date of the postponed match. Moving a player from the Club Roster as of the date of the original match directly into the starting lineup is prohibited, unless done via a pre-match substitution or in the case of a goalkeeper exception”.

There are further exceptions for goalkeepers, but the only relevant one for either side is this, “If the starting goalkeeper from the postponed match is unavailable for the match recommencement, the backup goalkeeper from the postponed Official Match Roster is inserted into the match without using a substitution. An additional goalkeeper can be added to the substitutes’ bench from the Club’s eligible active roster”. 

Original Match Day Squads with full bench 


Impact on Match Day Rosters


  • Jim Curtin confirmed that both Carranza and Flach will be available in the pre-game presser
  • Markus Anderson is out for 3-4 weeks with a quad injury
  • Matt Real’s spot on the bench can be filled by any player rostered on March 9th since he is on loan
  • If Andre Blake is unable to play, Semmle would take his spot in the XI without using a sub
  • If Lowe is ruled out, Glesnes would take his spot


  • Xavier Arreaga has been traded and can be replaced by a bench player
  • Head Coach Brian Schmetzer confirmed that the now empty bench spot can be filled by a rostered player but they would not be able to start 
  • Alex Roldan will serve his suspension in the match against the Galaxy on May 5th, meaning he will be eligible for Tuesday’s game

Scouting Report: Seattle Sounders

The Sounders’ current roster makeup includes a lot of vets who were on the MLS Cup-winning side in 2019. Jordan Morris, Nouhou Tolo, and Raul Ruidiaz have competed at the highest level with the club and their countries in international competitions such as: AFCON, CONCACAF, Copa America, and the World Cup. The team’s core is bolstered by players in their prime like Cristian Roldan and Albert Rusnak and a young cadre of HGPs like Obed Vargas and Joshua Atencio. Notably, former Best-XI and All-Star midfielder Nico Lodeiro left the team as a free agent before the 2024 season

On March 9th, Schmetzer opted for a flat 4-4-2 formation. The Sounders have used this formation on three occasions in 2024, each when attacking mid Albert Rusnak was unavailable to start. In these instances, Morris moves up the field and operates as a strike partner to Ruidiaz while Brazilian winger Leo Chu takes the left mid position. This typically has reflected a dip in shot-creating-actions, which stands to reason due to the creative role Rusnak fills for Seattle. Atencio and Vargas are solid defensively but don’t provide the same ability in an attack that Rusnak offers.

Injury Report:

OUT: Pedro de la Vega (hamstring)

OUT: Braudilio Rodrigues (right hamstring)

QUESTIONABLE: Reed Baker-Whiting (left hamstring)

QUESTIONABLE: Nathan (hip)




International Duty:


Scouting Report: Philadelphia Union

Despite creating enough chances to win, the Union were unable to get a result against RSL. The Union left their two best chances on the field, and this has proved to be a troubling pattern over the past year or so. The offense looks so close to exploding into life, but they’ve only shown flashes recently. The first-leg comeback against Saprissa and the 3-goal showing in Portland exemplify how good this unit can be. The issue is the lack of consistent scoring since the team’s run in 2022. While Quinn Sullivan’s addition to the lineup and McGlynn’s development have added more life to this team, the Union still have to answer the biggest question: can this group win it all?  

With the match day rosters already public, Bueno and Mbaizo will start, which will be a slightly new look for the team this season. Mbaizo likes to get up the field, so expect lots of attacks from the Union’s right. It will be interesting to see how he combines with Sullivan, who is set to start at right center mid. Jose Martinez might take up more distributing responsibilities with McGlynn on the bench. 

Ideally, with Carranza, Uhre, Gazdag, and Sullivan on the field together, the Union’s best attackers should have more chances. But there is one problem with that.

No seriously, what are the rules?

Based on Curtin’s comments in the pre-game press conference, Carranza will be starting. That decision is contrary to the official postponement rules, which state that “Moving a player from the Club Roster as of the date of the original match directly into the starting lineup is prohibited, unless done via a pre-match substitution or in the case of a goalkeeper exception.” It would seem that Anderson’s place in the lineup can only be filled from the original subs. Carranza was not named on the March 9th team sheet, so he would only be eligible as a sub. While he could immediately sub off a starter for Carranza, based on Curtin’s later comments in the presser, it seems unlikely that he would, as he implied it was poor leadership to do so. But, he seemed equally sure that he would start Carranza. 

So it’s a bit of head scratcher because of the unique rules being enforced. Does Schmetzer not know the rules? Is this just mind games from Curtin? Who will actually be on the field when the game starts for both teams? Only time will tell.

Injury Report:

OUT: Markus Anderson (quad)

QUESTIONABLE: Andre Blake (leg)

QUESTIONABLE: Damion Lowe (ankle)

Suspended: N/a

International Duty: N/a

Key Matchup: Battle in the Midfield

It’ll likely be a battle of the 4-4-2’s as the Union’s diamond shape contends with the flat midfield line of Seattle. The Sounders like to carry the ball and beat defenders on the dribble, so the Union will need their midfield to keep its shape, or else the Sounder’s attackers will have a lot of space to work with in the final third.

Player to Watch: Mikael Uhre

The mercurial forward has been the subject of much criticism from the Union’s fanbase. The stats say Uhre is averaging one goal every three games in MLS. Typically, that is about what’s expected from a starting striker. But, considering how much the Union paid for him and the fact that the eye test suggests he should be scoring more than his current rate, the frustration is understandable. After a good sub appearance against Atlanta and a less than stellar cameo against RSL, starting against Seattle will give Uhre a clear cut opportunity to silence the critics.

Prediction: Union 3 – 1 Seattle

The Sounders are in poor form, and the Union is looking to bounce back to winning ways. The Union haven’t been as stable in defense as they would like, but the offense still has firepower on deck. If Jordan Morris pops up for a goal, the Union’s front three will answer back with goals of their own.


  1. Andy Muenz says:

    I could be wrong, but I don’t think Carranza can start. Assuming he can’t, my thought would be to bring in McGlynn for Anderson. Then Sullivan can move up top, Bueno can move to the right, and McGlynn can go to his usual spot. That would leave a lineup with only 3 differences from the starting lineup Saturday, Uhre for Carranza, Bueno for Bedoya, and Mbaizo for Wagner, all pretty much like for like changes.

    • Blake Zuschnitt says:

      You are correct. Carranza cannot start, and he cannot be subbed on with a “free sub.” The same goes for Flach. They would count toward actual subs, based on my understanding.

    • Carranza CAN start if Philadelphia is willing to expend one of its five substitutions and play the last 84 minutes with only 4. It would NOT cost them a substitution opportunity.
      Two sources, Tannenwald of the Inquirer and MLS’s summary of Roster Rules and Regulations on its own website. (Not the actual rules themselves I am fairly certain.)
      As a journalist Tannenwald does not cite his sources following academic standards. He asserts it on his own authority, but given who he talks to — almost certainly within the Union and the league — I suspect he has it correct.
      He addresses the situation today in the Inquirer.

      • Blake Zuschnitt says:

        Tim, I appreciate the clarification, but in your first section, I believe starting Carranza it WOULD cost them a substitution opportunity (as you also state), and the same goes for flach. I was under the impression that because Carranza/Flach were not in the eighteen in the original matchup meant that, even though they could be included in this eighteen, they would have to start the match on the bench. And could only be used as a substitution. Tannenwald also states that “new players must start on the bench.” Maybe i misread Tannenwald’s piece, and my initial comment saying they “cannot start” is incorrect. They would have to use one of their five subs to do so, that is my current understanding.

        Hopefully we don’t have to deal with this confusion again any time soon!

  2. going deep on the headline photo with Seba!

  3. Why are we worrying about free subs? Curtin rarely sees fit to use his subs. If only we could return the unused subs for TAM. Not that it would be spent on anything but HG.

    • Andy Muenz says:

      While he only used 3 subs on Saturday night, they were made in 3 separate windows, so using one in the 6th minute would have meant that there would have been absolutely no response when RSL scored. At least they had a spot for an offensive sub even if it didn’t result in a goal.

      • See above comment, please.
        Following Tannenwald, it is my understanding that they would have only four subs left, but also three windows.

  4. From
    REF: Joe Dickerson
    AR1: Ryan Graves
    AR2: Mike Nickerson
    4TH: Sergii Boiko
    VAR: Sorin Stoica
    AVAR: Adam Garner

  5. I don’t see the point in these complicated roster rules for a game that was postponed. The teams should be allowed to approach it like a fresh game. It’s not like The Union or the Sounders conspired to make it rain on the original date.

    I’m surprised it’s been five years since we’ve played the Sounders.

    • Andy Muenz says:

      The problem is that it’s not a fresh game. What if it had been stopped in the 30th minute? Is that a fresh game? How about the 60th? There has to be a cutoff and the league took the simple approach that essentially says that if the kickoff happens, the match continues from where it stops with the same lineups as much as possible. The complicated rules are to account for injuries, trades, and international duty (which would have been significant if the game wasn’t scheduled for tonight or tomorrow)
      Given that there were only 2 interconference matches in 2020 and 2021, 8 in 2022, and 6 last year and this, it’s not surprising that they hadn’t played Seattle or RSL since 2019 prior to playing them this year. They also haven’t played Vancouver since 2019 and played Austin for the first time this year even though they’ve been in the league since 2021. I also heard rumors that St. Louis has a team.

  6. Andy Muènz says:

    Blake and Lowe are out. Carrara is starting. Not sure if it counts as a window.

  7. Andy Muènz says:

    New injury rules are in effect tonight (at least according to the ref)

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