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Opposing Views: Struggling Philadelphia Union travel to Formidable CenturyLink

Philadelphia Union

photo via Philadelphia Union’s Twitter account / @PhilaUnion

Another week and another dismal result.

This seems to be the way the Philadelphia Union‘s season has played out nine games in. After a busy offseason signing three designated players including securing USMNT midfielder Maurice Edu on loan, it seemed like 2014 would make Union fans forget the team’s nightmarish 2013 season.

So far this season, Philadelphia sits in eighth place with eight points and a 1-3-5 record. Last week, they dropped a 1-0 decision to the then winless Montreal Impact. This weekend Philadelphia heads into Cascadia land to take on a in-form Clint Dempsey and red-hot Seattle Sounders squad. This comes as a somewhat as a surprise as Sigi Schmid was on a short leash before the season began. However, Union manager John Hackworth seems to be the one walking on thin ice right now even though he has a “vote of confidence” from the Union front office.

Philadelphia desperately needs three points, but that seems very highly unlikely. They head into CenturyLink Stadium and face-off against a more organized Seattle squad. Statistically, the Rave Green have outscored the Union 18 to 9. This does not bode well for Philadelphia. It is critical that whichever lineup Hackworth throws out brings their best effort and isn’t caught ball watching. Overall, Zac MacMath has been one of a few bright spots on the Union season so far, but the Seattle offense is too dangerous if the Union’s lackadaisical defensive effort continues.

Offensively, striker Andrew Wenger looks to find his second Union goal and begin a winning streak to turn around their dismal season. It will take a phenomenal effort with Seattle’s supporters causing havoc behind their beloved Sounders squad. Who knows which Union squad will be rolled out this weekend, but it better be one that can successfully go toe-to-toe against Seattle in search of three points. While the Union have annoyed supporters with their five ties, a tie in Seattle this week should have no one complaining unless the Union give up another late goal.

Stoppage Time Soccer colleague Matthew Evans is a die hard Sounders fans and looks at the previews this match from a Sounders angle. Below are his answers to three questions asked around the Seattle Sounders season as they prepare for this weekend’s game. 

Phil: What do you think has caused Dempsey’s resurgence this season?

Matt: I really think that his resurgence can be attributed to two things; 1) His “fitness clock” being reset and 2) finally being able to develop some chemistry with his Sounders teammates.

Clint Dempsey was in the middle of a pre-season training camp with Tottenham Hotspur when the transfer with Seattle took place. Unfortunately for Dempsey, he joined Seattle during the stretch run into the playoffs and had picked up minor injuries/soreness that occur when you are not in top form despite attempting to perform that way.

People will say now that Dempsey is performing well that it should be attributed to his winter loan to Fulham but I could not disagree more. He has started to develop chemistry with his teammates due to training with them every day. That will be very obvious in this match with the number of “cheeky” back-heels and no-look passes that take place in the attacking third. Jeremiah Oshan mentioned on the most recent episode of Nos Audietis that he had counted at least twenty such passes in the Colorado match this past Saturday.

Phil: With Brad Evans back from injury, how do you see him contributing to the squad?

Matt: Brad Evans is the captain of this team so obviously he will bring even more leadership to this club who already has some great leaders on the team like Osvaldo Alonso, Zach Scott and Djimi Traore.

The addition of Brad Evans back into the squad will also give Alonso more freedom to jump into the attack. Alonso hasn’t made as many runs forward in the past few matches due to the defensive struggles of Gonzalo Pineda. Evans also poses a threat in the attacking third with his long throw-ins; a weapon that has not been utilized very often this season.

Phil: Against Philadelphia, what kind of tactical gameplay do you see Schmid using?

Matt: I am a firm believer of the old saying ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Right now the Sounders ain’t broke, so Sigi Schmid should just keep the game plan similar to what has been working recently.

His line-up should look like this:

4-4-1-1

Frei

Yedlin – Traore – Marshall – Remick

Neagle – Evans – Alonso – Pappa

Dempsey

Martins

Subs:

Cooper for Pappa

Rose for Alonso

Pineda for Evans


Phil Naegely is CEO and writer for Stoppage Time Soccer. Follow him on Twitter @PNaegelySTS and add him to your Google Circles.

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