Seattle’s goal today: Keep Casey at bay

don.ruiz@thenewstribune.comMay 4, 2013 

Two weeks ago, the Seattle Sounders got a look at the Colorado Rapids without Conor Casey in the lineup.

Today, the Sounders will get a look at the Philadelphia Union with Casey in the lineup.

Casey played with Colorado from 2007 through last season, becoming the Rapids’ all-time leading scorer with 50 goals. However, he wasn’t re-signed during the offseason, and the Union selected him in the Major League Soccer re-entry draft.

Without Casey, Colorado has started the season 2-4-3, including a 1-0 loss to Seattle on April 20.

With him, Philadelphia is 3-3-2 entering today’s 1 p.m. visit from the Sounders. Casey has two goals in six games.

“Conor is Conor,” Seattle coach Sigi Schmid said. “What you see is what you get. He’s a big, strong forward. He’s going to hold the ball up. He’s going to post you up. He’s going to battle you. He’s going to challenge for things.”

In Philadelphia, Casey is complemented by a contrasting forward on the other side: 20-year-old Jack McInerney, the seventh overall selection in the

2010 SuperDraft who has broken out this season with a league-leading six goals. He was voted the MLS Player of the Month for April.

“McInerney is always trying to get to the wrong side of you, always to get to your blind side as a defender,” Schmid said. “He’s always looking to get to your back, and hopefully you’ll lose him. And his quickness is such that when he makes his move, if he gets that step on you or two, he’s able to hold onto it. So that’s the unique challenge that he brings.”

The pair — along with former Sounders midfielder Sebastien Le Toux — will challenge a Seattle defense that has allowed more than one goal only once in six games and has kept clean sheets in each of its last two matches.

“We’ve done OK,” Schmid said. “We need, obviously, to score at the other end of the field – that’s been our problem right now. We’ve made things hard on our defense when we haven’t gotten ourselves up in a game or even put a game away, and that just makes it tougher for your defense. But I think our defense has responded fairly well.”

A prime problem for the Sounders’ offense has been getting starting forwards Eddie Johnson and Obafemi Martins on the pitch at the same time.

Martins scored his first MLS goal in Seattle’s win at Colorado, while Johnson missed the match because of a hamstring injury.

Johnson is expected to be available today. However, Martins is listed as questionable because of a right leg tendon injury.

Whatever forward combination is used will face a Philly defense anchored by Jeff Parke, who played with the Sounders from 2010 through 2012.

He was traded to the Union during the offseason to be closer to his family in suburban Philadelphia.

“It’s always a bit of a challenge to play your old team,” Parke said. “When I was in Seattle and I played against New York, it was a strange feeling. You come out with a different kind of energy. You know the team, obviously, but you want to get a win so you can walk away and have bragging rights for a while. ... It’s definitely a different game.”



1 p.m., PPL Park, Chester, Pa.

TV: Ch. 6/16. Radio: 97.3-FM.

Head to head: The series is even, 2-2-1. The Union leads, 1-0-1, at home. The Sounders won the lone meeting last season, 1-0, in Seattle.

Notes: Union forward Jack McInerney, 20, was voted Major League Soccer Player of the Month for April. He is tied for the league lead with six goals and leads his team with 24 shots and 12 shots on goal. ... Seattle goalkeeper Michael Gspurning is third in MLS with a 0.83 goals-against average. ... The Sounders hope to build off their first win of the season at Colorado. The Union is coming off a 2-0 loss at New England. ... Philadelphia is 1-1-1 at home. Seattle is 1-2-0 on the road. ... The Union is second in MLS with 12 assists, fifth in fouls committed and seventh in shots on goal. The Sounders are last in scoring and in shots. ... Sounders listed as questionable because of injuries are Marc Burch, Patrick Ianni, Shalrie Joseph, Obafemi Martins and Steve Zakuani. ... Former Sounders Sebastien Le Toux and Jeff Parke play for the Union. ... The assigned referee is Jorge Gonzalez.

Quotable: “Their backs are against the wall a little bit, so it’s going to be a different feel and a different team a little bit. But at the end of the day, it’s another game, and we’re at home, and we want to get three points.” – Union defender Parke, on facing his former team.

Next: The Sounders will travel to Kansas City, Kan., where they will meet Sporting KC at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Don Ruiz: 253-597-8808 @donruiztnt

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