The second course of your Saturday Philadelphia sports smorgasbord takes place in Chester where the Union host Seattle (4PM/The Comcast Network). The Union (3-1), who have played four consecutive 1-0 games, look to put together their second winning streak of the young season. They sit atop the Eastern Conference table with nine points, three points clear of Toronto and New England.
Seattle (1-2-2) enters the game in a three way tie for fourth in the West. They picked up their first win of the season last week thanks to a 2-1 win over Chicago. The Sounders have scored four goals over their last two games, which is all the more impressive considering they've been playing without Fredy Montero, who's been out with a broken wrist.
Montero made the trip to Philly, but is listed as questionable. O’Brian White has helped pick up the scoring slack, recording two goals and an assist over the last two matches. Steve Zakuani has also contributed in Montero's absence, picking up a goal and an assist over the same period.
One amazing number to keep in mind about this one is 80. 80 is the combined age of starting goalkeepers Kasey Keller (41) and Faryd Mondragon (39). To put that into perspective consider that the combined age of Union players Jack McInerney (18), Roger Torres (19), Danny Mwanga (19), Amobi Okuguo (20) is just 76. Yeah, Keller and Mondragon have been around.
Speaking of Okugo, he'll likely start in the place of Brian Carrol, who, due to a hamstring injury, was forced to leave last week's win over the Red Bulls after just six minutes. Justin Mapp, who made his way back into the Union lineup last week, apparently emerged unscathed and should be fit to start.
I know Peter Nowak has no qualms about winning games 1-0, but they need to find a way to get their offense going. Once again it took introducing Roger Torres into the lineup to shake things up. Last week it was only a matter of seconds before Torres made an impact. Mwanga picked off a terrible pass from Red Bull centerback Tim Ream and sent Torres through for the decisive goal.
The contributions off the substitutes bench have been great, but Carlos Ruiz and Sebastien Le Toux need provide a threat. In their defense they've had zero support from the midfield. I cannot remember a single serve into the box from a Union midfielder. The midfield absolutely needs to do a better job of providing a link between the back four and Ruiz/Le Toux.
If only there was a creative string-pulling midfielder out there who could help jump-start the Union offense. I mean, at this stage of the season there can't be anyone who would fit that bill, right? Wait, what's that? Benny Feilhaber is now available? And the Union sits in the second allocation position? Kerith Gabriel reports that the Union have no interest in Feilhaber.
Please tell me that's just Nowak keeping things close to the vest. Benny is a perfect fit for tihs team.
Please go get him.
Seriously, go get him.
That potential acquisition will have to wait until Tuesday. For today your likely starting X1 will be Mondragon, Jordan Harvey, Danny Califf, Carlos Valdes, Sheanon Williams, Mapp, Okugo, Stefani Miglioranzi (who was a turnover machine last week), Keon Daniel, Le Toux, and Ruiz.
Final Score Prediction: Union make it three wins in a row with yet another 1-0 result.
The Toni Stahl Memorial Union Player Most Likely To See Red: Miglioranzi, who will be matched up with Osvaldo Alonso all day. I am a big Alonso fan, and think he'll provide a serious problem for Miglioranzi.
Bonus Reminder to Set Your DVR for El Clasico Note: Barcelona and Madrid play this afternoon in what will be their first of four games against each other over the next 18 days. They play at 4PM, so fire up your DVR.
Bonus Music Track: They're hosting Seattle. It's a bit of an obvious choice, but I couldn't pass up the opportunity to include Pearl Jam covering Mother Love Bone.
Photo Credit: Barbara Johnston/AP