The Union welcome the Seattle Sounders this evening (5PM/ESPN2) for the first ever game at brand spanking new PPL Park. After playing their first two home dates at the Linc the Union finally move into their new home along the Chester waterfront. All the momentum the Union have built over the opening few months of the season culminates this evening as the Union take on a Sounders team which has fallen on tough times since topping our local XI 2-0 in the Union's first ever game back in March,
Last we saw the Union play a league match prior to the World Cup break they dropped an ugly one 2-0 at Kansas City. Since then they played a friendly against affiliate club Reading United AC, which the Union won 2-0. Hopefully head coach Peter Nowak has spent the break hammering home the importance of keeping eleven men on the field and avoiding the types of defensive breakdowns which have undercut otherwise solid performances thus far.
Nowak has been mixing and matching his lineups over the last few matches. Early season revelation Roger Torres has seen his minutes go down significantly as Nowak has introduced Shea Salinas and Kyle Nakazawa into the midfield. Also, the emergence number one overall pick Danny Mwanga has relegated youngster Jack McInerney to the bench.
Much like how the success of the USMNT hinged on the performance of three or four key contributors (Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey, Michael Bradley, and Tim Howard), the Union rely on the creativity and production of Sebastien Le Toux, Alejandro Moreno, and Fred. When those three are clicking the Union play well.
The Union are going to need to keep tight tabs on the speedy Steve Zakuani, who gave the Union back four fits the last time these two teams played. Freddy Montero also wreaked havoc against the Union in March. The task of containing these two will be made all the more difficult as Michael Orozco will miss the game due to suspension for the red card he picked up against Kansas City. In Freddie Ljundberg and Kasey Keller the Sounders also feature two players with vast international experience.
This match presents a great opportunity for the Union to gauge just how much progress they've made since that opening night loss in Seattle. After notching a win and a tie in their two games at the Linc the Union hope to keep their home record unblemished. Regardless, it's a historic night for soccer in the Delaware Valley.
Union Player Most Likely to See Red: Cristian Arrieta, who will have to deal with Zakuani all night.
Final Score Prediction: The Union win it 2-1 as they feed off the energy of the fans in the first ever game at PPL Park
Photo: Getty Images