Match Preview: Seattle Sounders, Philadelphia Union set for only clash of 2016

The Seattle Sounders return to action at home against the Philadelphia Union on Saturday, the only meeting between the two teams this season. Here’s a breakdown of all you need to know about the game.

WHEN AND WHERE: Kickoff is Saturday at 7 p.m. at CenturyLink Field.

WHERE TO WATCH: The game will be telecast on JOEtv, with a pregame show beginning at 6:30 p.m. The game will also be telecast in Spanish on Univision-Seattle.

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WHERE TO LISTEN: The game will be aired on KIRO 97.3 FM in English and on El Rey 1360AM in Spanish.

RECORDS AND STANDINGS: Sounders (1-3-1, 4 pts.,10th in Western Conference), Union (3-2-0, 6 pts., 2nd in Eastern Conference)

ALL-TIME HISTORY: The all-time series between the two teams is dead even at 3-3-2, and no team has been able to hold any kind of regular edge over the other since the series began in 2010. The Union won the teams’ only meeting of 2015 in Philadelphia, while the Sounders won 2-1 when the teams last met in Seattle back in 2014. They also met in the final of the 2014 U.S. Open Cup, but the Union have since undergone something of a roster overhaul, and only three players who suited up for Philly in the USOC final two years ago could play this weekend against Seattle.

MOMENTUM FOR SEATTLE: The Sounders’ dramatic 1-1 draw on the road against the Houston Dynamo on Sunday wasn’t their prettiest result, but it salvaged a key road point and avoided the team’s fourth loss in five games to open the season. Said captain Brad Evans: “You grasp on to something, you hold on to it and you get home with a point.” 

SCORING WOES: Veteran center back Chad Marshall scored his first goal since March 2014 in the draw against Houston, but the Sounders still haven’t scored multiple goals in an MLS game this year. And no forward has scored a goal from the run of play in seven games across all competitions.

A SPECIAL GOAL: How rare was Marshall’s goal? It was just his second in the regular season since joining the Sounders in 2014, and the first of his career scored without his head. His career-best is four goals, a mark he hit while with Columbus in 2008 and 2009.

BRINGING THE HEAT: Young striker Oalex Anderson didn’t officially pick up an assist on Marshall’s late goal, but the 20-year-old S2 product clearly set up the equalizer to cap a fantastic 27 minutes off the bench. Anderson has picked up minutes in four of the team’s five games so far this season.

HERC BEING HERC: Veteran Herculez Gomez made his Sounders debut in the draw in Houston, coming on for youngster Jordan Morris in the 79th minute and almost immediately setting up a goal. Long known for providing a spark off the bench late in games, Gomez failed to log a shot in the game, but his energy was unmistakable.

INJURY UPDATE: The Sounders played without veteran striker Nelson Valdez (leg) for the first time this season in Houston, and it’s unclear if the Paraguayan international will be back against Philadelphia. Midfielder Erik Friberg (knee) is unlikely to be back.

A BETTER UNION: Philadelphia has been one of the surprises to the young season, earning wins over Columbus, New England and Orlando City SC. They’re led by a revived CJ Sapong and veteran offseason pickup Chris Pontius, but rookie defender Keegan Rosenberry has turned some heads as well.

SEBASTIEN IS BACK: Sebastien Le Toux has won hearts and minds in two markets in his career: Philadelphia and Seattle. The 32-year-old Frenchman is now in his eighth year in MLS and sixth with the Union, but he got his start in the U.S. about a decade ago with the USL Sounders. He scored 24 goals in 54 league appearances for the Sounders before they made the jump to MLS in 2009, and he appeared in 28 games that year before he was ultimately picked up by the Union in the MLS Expansion Draft.

FREE KICK WONDER: The Union head into Seattle on the heels of a dramatic win over Orlando last week, thanks in no small part to this amazing free kick from Tranquillo Barnetta. Not a bad way to win a game.



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