The Seattle Sounders proved to the expansion Philadelphia Union that Philly still has a long way to go before they can match Seattle’s success.
The Sounders completely outplayed and outclassed the inexperienced Philadelphia side en route to a 2-0 victory.
Philadelphia displayed their youth and seemed to be disjointed as a team. The starting lineup featured two rookiesfive players making their MLS debut and the starters’ total average age was 24-years-old. Two more rookies came on as late second-half substitutes.
This youth movement was quite a bold move by Union Head Coach Peter Nowak, putting these young players in the pressure-filled environment of a packed house of over 32,000 at Seattle’s Qwest Field.
The nerves showed as Philadelphia struggled in the first half with possessing the ball and came in with some bad challenges defensively that resulted five yellow cards total, four in the first half. Two of those went to rookie Toni Stahl, who was thus given a red card and ejected. The Union was forced to play a man down.
Seattle’s veteran squad, despite the physical play, kept calm and stayed cool.
They did not join in on the card party, and seized control of the match from the get-go. Brad Evans scored in the 12th minute, and Seattle won the possession battle and capitalized on man-advantage.
Seattle put together a squad last season that had plenty of experience—MLS, other professional clubs, and international alike—that was able to compete last year and is an early favorite to win the MLS Cup this season.
The same cannot be said for Philadelphia, who stockpiled draft picks and will be better for it in the years to come, but will endure plenty of growing pains this season.
One way the Union front office followed the Sounders’ blueprint for success was by establishing a talented, stingy defense. While they performed so-so, Seattle, who allowed the least amount of goals against in 2009, was able to do better posting the shutout.
Seattle also proved that the team needs to complement the tough defense with a capable attack. Philadelphia’s biggest weakness is that they do not have many offensively proficient players.
Seattle does have some goal scorers. While they did miss some chances (that needs to be improved upon as the season goes on), they did do enough to break a solid defense and secure a victory.
Seattle’s “win-now” club took the first steps to becoming champions this season.
Philadelphia took the first steps of a long, learning process on the road to MLS superiority.
The two teams’ philosophies showed last night.