Sounders FC @ Philadelphia Union
May 4, 2013, 1:00 pm PT, PPL Park, Chester, PA
TV/Radio: KONG 6/16; KIRO radio 97.3; La Gran D 99.3 (Spanish)
PHILADELPHIA – Absence may make the heart grow fonder, but it also makes soccer players eager.
It’s been two weeks since the Sounders last took the field in a 1-0 win over the Colorado Rapids on April 20 and they are itching to get back on the field against the Philadelphia Union on Saturday at PPL Park.
That win over the Rapids was Seattle’s first of the season and while the team was eager to get that feeling again as soon as possible, they did their best to take advantage of the time off.
“We had two weeks of good practices but now we’re back to games and everybody’s excited,” Seattle goalkeeper Michael Gspurning said.
The Sounders are now unbeaten in their last two matches, with the key being the defense as Seattle has posted two straight clean sheets and has a shutout streak of 235 straight minutes.
They will put that streak up against a Philadelphia offense that features the forward combination of 20-year-old phenom Jack McInerney and veteran Conor Casey. While Casey appears to have returned to the bruising form that made him a force for the Colorado Rapids, McInerney has been nothing short of a revelation for the Union, tying for the league-lead with six goals in eight matches.
“McInerney’s off to a good start. He’s a forward who is sort of busy and active,” Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid said. “He’s got good pace – he’s quick. When he makes his move, if the gets that step on you, he’s able to hold onto it.”
On the other side of the field, the Philadelphia defense has struggled, allowing 12 goals through eight games for a 1.50 goals against average, putting goalkeeper Zac MacMath among the three highest GAA among starting goalkeepers in MLS.
The Sounders will have to take advantage of that edge, an area that has seen them struggle with just three goals through the first six matches.
“It’s time for our offense to come through and for our offense to put some goals in the back of the net,” Schmid said. “That will make everybody’s job a lot easier.”
One element that should help the Sounders find their scoring touch is the return of forward Eddie Johnson, who missed the last two matches with hamstring tightness. Seattle’s leading scorer in 2012 with 14 goals, Johnson has one goal in three matches for the Sounders and is looking to integrate himself into a team that has found success over the last two matches.
“For me, it’s just making an impact,” he said. “The last two games have been good results and I need to fit in to the little run we’re on right now.”