Now That We Have a CBA, Let's Preview First Kick: Sounders vs. Union

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Now That We Have a CBA, Let's Preview First Kick: Sounders vs. Union
Victor Decolongon/Getty Images

With the MLS and the Players Union agreeing on a new five-year agreement, we can now start concentrating on the game.

The expansion team Philadelphia Union did not get any favoritism being the new kids on the block, as they will have to make the coast-to-coast journey to Seattle for their inaugural match in Qwest Field Thursday night.

The Seattle Sounders, on the other hand, will try to keep the momentum that they gathered last year from being the first expansion team to make the playoffs since the 1998 Chicago Fire squad did so early in the existence of MLS.

With all of the excitement created by the 35,000 faithful of the Sounders backers, this will either be a great match to watch, or will be another showing of the parity of the MLS.

The battle in this match will be the front four of the Seattle Sounders FC vs. the back line of Philadelphia.

Peter Nowak has decided to go with the old cliche of "defense will win championships", and the Union's defense will be formidable.

Starting at goalkeeper, the trade for Chris Seitz, who was backing up Nick Rimando (last year's MLS Cup MVP) was a key offseason move by Nowak. 

Seitz will be getting help from experienced center back Danny Califf, who last season captained Aalborg (Denmark), and played MLS from 2000-2004 with the LA Galaxy. 

Michael Orozco will be on an outside back, and will probably have the challenge of marking the very speedy Steve Zakuani, the 2009 Superdraft No. 1 pick.

Sounders FC will be countering the defense with Colombian Fredy Montero (12 goals), who had a double in last year's opener, and Freddie Ljundberg, who missed the First Kick last season, but is the catalyst of the Sounders' attack.

The question is, who is starting for Sounders FC at the other outside midfield position opposite Zakuani? Nate Jaqua has been injured during most of the preseason training, but expect Brad Evans to fill in at the outside midfield.

Osvaldo Alonso and probably Nathan Sturgis will be holding down the defensive midfield positions, and will be the primary distributors to the Sounders' attack.

On the other side of the pitch, Philadelphia is young and inexperienced, with the exception of Alejandro Moreno. Moreno will have to help out the attack, as Fred will be sitting out this match because of a red card suspension he picked up with DC United last season.

Ex-Sounders FC Sebastian LeToux will be the work horse that made him a fan favorite in Seattle, and that could cause some havoc with Seattle's back four. My prediction is that Danny Mwanga, Superdraft 2010 No. 1 pick, will be getting a lot of playing time with Fred's absence.

Seattle's defense will also have an absent from last year's back line, as James Riley will be sitting out for the red card he received in the last playoff match against the Houston Dynamo. 

Tyson Wahl or Patrick Ianni will be filling that position with Costa Rican Leo Gonzalez as the other outside back. Tyrone Marshall and Jhon Kennedy Hurtado will be filling the center in front of ex-USMNT goalkeeper Kasey Keller.

My prediction is that the electricity and noise of the Qwest Field fans will cause communication problems for Philadelphia's defense and will energize the Sounders' attacking style offense, even though they had trouble scoring last season.

Union won't have enough in the midfield to build an attack on the Sounders' defense.

My prediction is 2-0 Sounders FC.

The best thing about this is, even if I am wrong, we will be watching MLS soccer on Thursday night.

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