by Charles Therrell (DISK DOKTOR)
Greetings to my brothers and sisters in Green. After our Cascadia Cup triumph in British Colombia on Sat, the Sounders return to the Evergreen to face Philadelphia Union in a mid-week fixture, under the lights at Royal Brougham Park.
Although the Sounders’ trophy cabinet will not be bare this season, thanks to Saturday night’s result at BC Place, disappointments in both the CONCACAF Champions League and the US Open Cup have pinned our collective hopes towards MLS Cup glory in December.
Although it’s yet possible for the Sounders to win the league, it is highly unlikely. Atlanta United FC are currently top of the league on 57 points with six matches remaining. The maximum points the Sounders can earn is 65 points, a number we will only reach if we win our last seven league matches of the season (including tonight’s fixture). Thus three more victories (or nine points out of a possible 18) for Atlanta United make it impossible for Seattle to win the league.
Putting all of the above aside for the moment, we can only focus on tonight’s fixture and for the best result possible against our opponents from Chester.
Gather the Green Family where ye may, at the ground, at the pub, and at each other’s dwellings. For 90 minutes on Wednesday night, channel your energy into the Sounders team. May the sound that emanates from us all be both wild and real, much like the Pacific Northwest, manifesting the spirit of the Evergreen itself.
Before kick-off, join me in the auld toast: TO THE SEATTLE SOUNDERS FOOTBALL CLUB…AND VICTORY!!!
The Good News
The Sounders find themselves four points clear of the MLS Cup qualification line, and 8th place in the league table. Our Boys in Green have won a club-record nine matches in a row, and are unbeaten in 11 matches, two short of tying the club record set in the 2017 season. This current patch is as good as form gets unless it should continue to better and grow with each match. Philadelphia, in contrast, could only manage a draw in Orlando and were pulped at home on Sat by Montreal.
The only Sounders players unavailable for selection are Morris and Chenkham. The rest of the team is, thankfully, healthy. Should Dockal miss tonight’s match due to an ankle problem, the Sounders benefit as he is a Czech international that has been successful wherever he’s played.
The Sounders’ defence is nearly a goal better per match than Philadelphia’s, with both sides scoring at a similar rate (0.06 goals/match difference).
History favours the Sounders when Philadelphia visit the Evergreen (4-0-1). The Sounders have improved their home record this season to 7-2-4. In contrast, Philadelphia’s overall record and their road record reveal a “feast or famine” type of side that has decisively seen victory or defeat in 24 of its 28 matches.
The Bad News
Before their recent winless two matches, Philadelphia had won four straight beating New England twice and NYCFC once during this run.
Nearly the entire Philadelphia team are healthy. Including star players C.J. Sapong, Alejandro Bedoya, and Jamaica first-choice goalkeeper Andre Blake.
In the all-time series between the clubs, the record is even at 4-2-4. Although the Sounders have only lost once in five matches to Philadelphia all-time at Royal Brougham Park, the all-time overall numbers show the sides as evenly matched with respect to results.
The Side I Would Select
RW C. Roldan
The Side I Think The Gaffer Will Select
RW C. Roldan
On 26 September, Philadelphia will play Houston in the US Open Cup Final, a tournament that has seen the Sounders only win one match in three over the past two seasons.
Philadelphia is a true football city, like New York City, Chicago, Seattle, and Los Angeles. They had the Atoms in the NASL-era, and Bethlehem Steel FC currently function as the Union’s reserves (in USL) but had a rich history before that as an amateur club in its original iteration (1907-1930), winning nine league championships, five US Open Cup titles, and six American Cup titles. St. Joseph’s, Drexel, Temple, La Salle, Pennsylvania, and Villanova are all Division I NCAA sides. Amateur sides include Fleisher Yarn, Philadelphia German-Americans, Philadelphia Inter, Philadelphia United German-Hungarians, Lighthouse Boys Club, Junior Lone Star FC, Buxmont Torch FC, Reading United AC, Ocean City Nor’easters. Underestimating clubs from true football cities is unwise. The Union are the adversary today, but I respect their footballing traditions as we wish ours to be respected.
General notes on personnel
The Philadelphia Union feature three legitimate stars in Andre Blake, Alejandro Bedoya, and C.J. Sapong.
Both clubs played in the league on Sat, and are thus on three days off. Three days is supposedly the minimal amount of time for muscle recovery. You’d imagine training for both clubs would be light, centred more on film than conditioning. The short time off may result in adjustments to the team sheet and substitutions tonight.
Comparison against common opponents
NE 0:0 SEA / PHI 2:0 NE – NE 2:3 PHI – PHI 1:0 NE
PHI 0:0 CLB – CLB 1:0 PHI / SEA 0:0 CLB
COL 1:2 SEA / COL 3:0 PHI
SJ 0:1 SEA / PHI 1:1 SJ
DAL 3:0 SEA – SEA 2:1 DAL / DAL 2:0 PHI
SEA 2:1 DC / PHI 3:2 DC – DC 0:2 PHI
TOR 1:2 SEA / TOR 3:0 PHI – PHI 0:2 TOR
SEA 0:1 MTL / MTL 0:2 PHI – PHI 1:4 MTL
SEA 0:1 RSL – RSL 2:0 SEA / PHI 4:1 RSL
NYRB 2:1 SEA / NYRB 0:0 PHI
SEA 1:1 CHI / PHI 3:1 CHI – CHI 3:4 PHI
ATL 1:1 SEA / ATL 3:1 PHI – PHI 0:2 ATL
SEA 2:0 VAN – VAN 1:2 SEA / PHI 4:0 VAN
SEA 0:1 LAFC – LAFC 1:0 SEA / LAFC 4:1 PHI
SEA 5:0 LAG / PHI 1:3 LAG
POR 1:0 SEA – SEA 2:3 POR – POR 0:1 SEA / POR 3:0 PHI
SEA 3:1 NYC / PHI 2:0 NYC
Know Thine Enemy
(as they lined up against Montreal on 15 September)
Andre Blake, 27, was developed by Connecticut (NCAA). Philadelphia is Blake’s first professional club. Blake has played for the Union 93 times with 25 clean sheets since he signed in 2014. Blake has 31 caps for Jamaica. Jamaica’s run in the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup where they made it all the way to the final was mainly due to Blake’s outstanding play during the tournament.
Raymon Gaddis, 28, is a domestic footballer produced by West Virginia (NCAA). After a two-year apprenticeship with Reading United, Gaddis joined the Philadelphia first-team in 2012 and hasn’t looked back. Gaddis has played 168 times for the Union over seven seasons.
Auston Trusty, 20, is a domestic footballer produced by Philadelphia Union Academy. Trusty signed with the club in 2016 but spent his first two seasons playing in the reserves (Philadelphia’s USL affiliate, Bethlehem Steel FC). This season has seen Trusty become a first-team regular with Philadelphia having played in all 28 matches scoring one goal.
Jack Elliott, 23, is an English national produced by West Virginia (NCAA). Elliott has played 46 times for Philadelphia scoring three goals over his two seasons with the club.
Keegan Rosenberry, 24, was produced by the Philadelphia Union Academy and Georgetown (NCAA). The Pennsylvania native has played 74 matches scoring three goals with Philadelphia since he signed in 2016. He has played in 26 of 28 matches this season.
Alejandro Bedoya, 31, was developed by Fairleigh Dickinson and Boston College (NCAA). The New Jersey native has seen his football career take him to Sweden (Orebro and Helsingborgs), Scotland (Rangers), and France (Nantes) before arriving at Philadelphia in 2016 on a Designated Player contract. He has played 65 matches for Philadelphia scoring five goals and assisting on eight. Bedoya has 66 caps for United States scoring two goals.
Haris Medunjanin, 33, is a Bosnian national developed by AZ Alkmaar in the Netherlands. He has had extensive experience in European football at such clubs as AZ, Real Valladolid, Maccabi Tel Aviv, and Deportivo La Coruna. The Sarajevo native has 60 caps for Bosnia and Herzegovina, scoring nine goals in the process. He signed with Philadelphia just before the 2017 season began, and has played 59 times for his new club, scoring four goals and assisting on 18.
Fabrice-Jean “Fafa” Picault, 27, is a product of the Cagliari youth system. At the beginning of his career, he played in the NASL with Tampa Bay and Fort Lauderdale. After this, he moved to Sparta Prague where he did not make a single appearance. A move followed to FC St. Pauli in Germany where he played 22 times scoring four goals. He signed with Philadelphia just before the 2017 season began, and has played 51 times for his new club scoring 14 goals. Picault has one United States cap.
Borek Dockal, 29, is a Czech international produced by Slavia Prague. Dockal’s professional career began in 2006 with notable stops at Slovan Liberec (84 matches/13 goals), Rosenborg (55/14), and Sparta Prague (95/24). Dockal is currently on loan at Philadelphia from Henan Jianye of the Chinese Super League. Since his arrival in Chester, Dockal has played 26 times for the Union scoring five goals and assisting on 15. Dockal has 27 caps and six goals for Czech Republic. Dockal was on the MLS.com injury list with an ankle sprain at press time. If Dockal’s injury is severe enough, he may be replaced in the team by Fontana, Najem, Jones, Medunjanin, or Bedoya.
C.J. Sapong, 29, is a product of DC United Academy and James Madison (NCAA). Sapong’s eight-year domestic career has seen him play for MLS sides Kansas City and Orlando City before his move to Philadelphia in 2015. He has played 118 times for Philadelphia over four seasons, scoring 36 goals. His career MLS experience is at 228 matches and 56 goals. Sapong has four United States caps. He is amongst the most likely players in the side to score a goal.
Cory Burke, 26, is a Jamaican international produced by Old Harbour High. In 2013, Burke began his professional career with Rivoli United (75 matches/25 goals) in the Jamaican league. The Kingston native signed a loan deal with Philadelphia’s reserves (Bethlehem Steel FC) in 2016 but did not see first-team football until this season. Burke has played 24 matches with the Union scoring eight goals. Burke has 14 caps and four goals for Jamaica.
Philadelphia Assistant Coach, Pat Noonan, played 21 times for the Sounders FC scoring one goal.
Sounders FC from: Frei, Meredith, Brown, Alfaro, Francis, Kim, Leerdam, Marshall, McCrary, Smith, Nouhou Tolo, Torres, Alonso, Bwana, Delem, Lodeiro, Neagle, Rodriguez, Alex Roldan, Cristian Roldan, Shipp, Svensson, Wingo, Bruin, Ruidiaz.
Philadelphia from: Blake, McCarthy, McGuire, Fabinho, Elliott, Gaddis, Marquez, Mbaizo, McKenzie, Rosenberry, Trusty, Yaro, Aaronson, Accam, Bedoya, Creavalle, Epps, Fontana, Herbers, Jones, Medunjanin, Najem, Picault, Sapong, Burke, Przybylko, Simpson.
(as listed on mlssoccer.com at press time)
Sounders FC –
OUT: Morris (ACL), Chenkam (herniated disc).
MATCHDAY DECISION: none.
OUT: Real (knee).
MATCHDAY DECISION: Ilsinho (quadriceps), Dockal (ankle).
(as listed on mlssoccer.com at press time)
Sounders FC: none suspended, Delem out next booking.
Philadelphia: none suspended.
Within the last three years, Sounders FC Academy sides have won the Youdan Trophy (an annual tournament held in honour of England’s first-ever football competition) three times and produced over 24 players that received United States youth call-ups.
(Sourced from an article on SoundersFC.com written by Joseph Mondello)