Union Payback – Philadelphia Union at Sounders FC

5 05 2012

Sounders huddle before midweek match with LA Galaxy 5/2/12 – Photo by Paul Kahl

Welcome back from midweek success.

Today your ever-changing cast of Sounders starters host the Philadelphia Union.  The objective is clear.  This is the only meeting in the unbalanced 2012 schedule.  So, beat the Union and get payback for the flat 2-nil performance last October.

The Union will be without their prominent coach Peter Nowak.  Who is serving the second of a two game suspension.  Nowak’s suspension and fine were for his part in a scuffle with Chivas USA on April 21.

David Beckham and Robbie Keane missed a good game Wednesday.  Sounders stole the glory from the present champion LA Galaxy, winning 2-nil.  Turf excuses, travel, and a compacted schedule were the primary reasons given for the Galaxy’s absent stars.

Seattle had not defeated LA since an away match in 2009.  And had never won at home.  The midweek mash-up initially looked a high challenge with the Galaxy’s three world-class DP’s (Designated Players) Landon Donovan, David Beckham, and Robbie Keane.  Only Donovan made the trip.  Effectively, Bruce Aren put out a B-Squad line-up.  The Sounders made LA pay for it.  One reason bounced around about why Beckham didn’t play was the surface.  The Field Turf Revolution Surface yesterday received a FIFA-2 certification.  So, hopefully next time LA come to town, their list of excuses will have better validation.

Galaxy travel to Seattle again August 5th.

Last October, Philadelphia took all three points from Seattle at Century Link.  A lackluster 2-nil loss.  Philadelphia’s return marks an opportunity for Sounders FC to get payback.  Adding a little extra importance is that this will be the only meeting between the two sides in 2012.

Focal points for the match.

Freddy Adu, like Eddie Johnson is working hard to prove his value as a club level MLS leader and pave his way to the US National Team.  The teen-prodigy has had many ups and down, but has never kept his eye off the bigger objective.  As much as I root for the Sounders, I have never stopped hoping for Adu’s success.

Sports are weird.  Sometimes a players success is realized by simply finding the right environment to flourish in.  The Union seem to be a place where Adu may realize that success.  Sounders know something about that.  Eddie Johnson has followed a similar up and down path to Adu.  He is also working to forge a successful return to MLS.

The match will be a good opportunity to compare their competitive development and club level contributions.  Both hope club level success in MLS will catch the attention of US National team coach Jurgen Klinsmann.  Both wish to be in the mix of players considered for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.

Sounders will likely be without newly acquired Keeper Michael Gspurning for 2-3 weeks.  A hip injury.  In his place steps Bryan Meredith.  Meredith played for the Kitsap Pumas last year.  Sounders fans may remember him well.  He kept Sounders at bay in a 2-1 US Open Cup loss to the Sounders.  By keeping the match close, on key saves for Kitsap, Meredith gave the Pumas what could have been a mammoth upset.

Michael Gspurning smacks goal kick in first half vs LA 5/2/12 – Photo by Paul Kahl

Winning is such a complex variable.  The Sounders are  5-W, 1-L, 1-D and building momentum.  But a sour performance would bring that to a halt.  Early season challenges like this, at first seem like a big deal.  But in the scheme of a marathon season, a single victory may mean little.  The lasting impact is how the team feels about how they handled the challenge.  Letting fans down at home would hurt.  Earning a win, or settling for a draw would give the Sounders all the validation they need for their must successful start to a season.  Momentum favors no one.  Results do.  A draw or win is the Sounders Saturday objective.

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