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Four questions with Dave Clark of Sounder at Heart



Photo by Jack Verdeur
After (another) draw for the Philadelphia Union against Pachuca on Tuesday, the Union are back in action on Saturday to take on the Seattle Sounders in Chester. With two points in two games from MLS play, the Union will want an important win to put them on track for domestic success.
To preview the Union’s next matchup, we spoke with Dave Clark and our pals over at Sounder at Heart and learned about what the Seattle game offers the Union.
Philadelphia Soccer Now: In two games, Seattle’s earned just one point to start the season. Was this expected for the Sounders?
Dave Clark: Preseason expectations both locally and nationally were that the Sounders would be a top 2 team in the West and challenge for the Shield, because the West was supposed to be weak. That’s still possible, of course, as we’re only two matches in.
It’s just not likely. The lack of scoring and in particular the inability to create big chances in good spaces is troublesome. The poorer teams just set in a double-deep block, preventing most attacking quality from the Sounders. And now their three best dribblers are injured, creating even bigger holes in the attack.
PSN: Seattle looked to be the better team against Austin last week, with four shots on goal and 1.4 xG. What kept Seattle from finding that goal?
DC: Most of those shots were speculative and at range. In addition, Austin blocked 9 shots. Eight teams in MLS take nine or fewer shots per game so far this season. Seattle is averaging 19.5. All the deep numbers say that the Sounders should have a good attack, though probably not great. To be good there needs to be bite from the men that get the final touch and the creators have to get the three capable forwards more than a couple dozen touches a game. No team is going to be great at scoring when their leading shooter is a DM.
PSN: We’re only two games in, but how have the Sounders been defined this season, either by their style of play, their in-game abilities, etc.?
DC: The defense that has defined the Sounders from ’09 to the present remains strong. This is despite the fact that they are starting a backup keeper, last year’s Defender of the Year finalist (Yeimar) hasn’t played, nor has one-MVP candidate defensive mid João Paulo. Having a strong defense that dominates in such a fashion is a credit to the coaches.
In the attack, they’re more balanced, but there are issues on the left. They aren’t creating the overloads necessary there to get someone free on goal and they aren’t releasing Léo Chú and Jordan Morris into space. The right is supposed to be the side better at possession, but the Roldans aren’t creating danger.
PSN: Will Seattle have any notable absences? What are your score and lineup predictions?
DC: The out list is long. Too damn long.
Stef Frei, João Paulo, Albert Rusnák, Pedro de la Vega, Nathan, Reed Baker-Whiting and Braudilio Rodrigues are all out.
Yeimar should play.
I think this could go 1-1. Philly’s defense is weak enough so far that Seattle could get a goal.

Joe is a junior at Penn State studying journalism and sports studies, among other things. He's covered the Union since 2017 and has written for Brotherly Game / Philadelphia Soccer Now since 2019. He seeks to answer life's greatest questions, such as, "How did I get here?" and "Where is that large automobile?" You can find Joe on Twitter (iamjoelister) or via email (

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