Sounders FC vs. Philadelphia Union
MLS Regular Season
Saturday, May 3; 7 pm PT; CenturyLink Field
TV/Radio: Q-13 FOX; KIRO Radio 97.3 FM; THIS-TV (KOMO2, Spanish); ESPN Deportes Radio, 1490 AM (Spanish)
Sounders FC and the Philadelphia Union are headed in opposite directions two months into the 2014 MLS season. Seattle is as hot as they come in MLS with a 5-2-1 record, a four-match unbeaten streak and with Clint Dempsey claiming the MLS Player of the Month honor while riding the hottest streak of his professional career. On the other end of the field, Philadelphia is grasping at a regular starting 11 while going winless in its last seven matches at 0-3-4.
Sounders FC will be prepared for a tough opponent despite Philadelphia's early-season struggles.
"They're a good team and we have to prepare for them just like any other team," Dempsey said. "It's more important for us to keep this rhythm going and focus on our team. We're working together as a team. There is a good chemistry and a good confidence in the team. It's going to be a difficult game, but at the same time if we play to the best of our ability I think we can get the right result."
Philadelphia has a core of MLS veterans in Brian Carroll, Sebastien Le Toux and Conor Casey as well as a slew of new players that are working to make an impression.
MLS newcomer Cristian Maidana is a key figure in the Philadelphia midfield, but has yet to adapt to MLS play through the first nine matches. Maidana has two assists and Head Coach John Hackworth said this week that he believes he can make an impact once he adjusts to the fitness of the league.
Along with Maurice Edu, Vincent Noguiera, Maidana, Le Toux and Carroll, Hackworth has several talented pieces to choose from and has used all of them in starting roles already this season.
"They're a team that has improved a lot in the midfield. They have a lot of options in midfield and I think they're still searching for the best combination. He has a lot of people he can pick from," Sounders FC Head Coach Sigi Schmid said. "The hard part preparing for them is you're not quite sure which options he's going to pull in that particular game."
A playoff team in its second season in 2011, the Union looked poised to get back in the postseason for the first time at the midway point last year, but a late slide had it three points out of the final playoff spot. Now with a remade roster expectations remain high, although the results haven't been there to match.
While Schmid may not know the precise lineup that Philadelphia will play with, he does know that the Union will come to Seattle hungry and desperate for points in the standings.
"Every team is going to be hungry and they're certainly going to be a hungry team so we have to make sure we come out at the beginning of the game, that we're sharp, that we get our crowd behind us right at the start and we continue to make them feel like today's not the day," Schmid said.
Kickoff for Saturday's match is scheduled for 7 pm PT.