Union-Sounders Preview

Michael Gspurning deserves as much credit as anyone for the

Seattle Sounders’ best start in franchise history.

However, it’s uncertain if the injured 6-foot-5 goalkeeper will

be standing in the way of the Philadelphia Union’s progress.

Rookie Brian Meredith could make his first career start Saturday

when host Seattle tries to win four consecutive matches for the

first time since 2010.

Signed by the Sounders in the offseason to replace the retired

Kasey Keller, Gspurning is among the league’s best with a 0.46

goals-against average. The Austrian has started all seven matches

for Seattle (5-1-1), which has allowed three goals – tied with

Eastern Conference-leading Kansas City for the fewest in MLS.

Gspurning, though, is questionable for Saturday after

aggravating a sore right hip and being replaced by Meredith at

halftime of Wednesday’s 2-0 victory over Los Angeles. The

22-year-old Meredith made one save against the defending MLS Cup

champions.

“It’s invaluable,” coach Sigi Schmid told MLS’ official website

of Meredith’s debut. “His nerves are good, he’s been with the team

a long time. They are familiar with him.”

Whoever is in net will try to help the Sounders extend their

four-game point streak and win four straight for the first time

since a team-record five-match winning streak Sept. 18-Oct. 15,

2010.

Seattle, also looking to equal the club’s longest single-season

home winning streak at three, has outscored opponents 8-2 while

posting a 4-1-0 record at CenturyLink Field. The Sounders have won

six of seven at home since a 2-0 loss to Philadelphia on Oct.

8.

Pulling off another win in the Pacific Northwest will be a tall

order for the Union (2-4-1), who will be coached by assistant John

Hackworth for a second straight game as Peter Nowak completes a

two-game suspension.

“Certainly traveling all the way to Seattle playing in that

environment on the surface against a very good team it’s going to

be a huge ask for us,” Hackworth told the club’s official website.

“We’re ready and we’re kind of anxious to get out there again.”

Philadelphia opens a stretch of three of four on the road

following a 2-1 loss to San Jose last Saturday. Goalkeeper Zac

MacMath had recorded three straight clean sheets, and the club’s

record shutout streak ended at 407 minutes.

MacMath will make his second start against the Sounders after

making two saves in last season’s victory in Seattle.

Sounders midfielder Fredy Montero missed that match due to

yellow card accumulation, but he’s ready to face the Union in this

season’s only meeting after scoring Wednesday for the first time in

10 matches.

“I was looking to score a goal from Day 1,” Montero said. “This

is soccer. You don’t know exactly the reason, but finally I

scored.”

It’s uncertain how much playing time will be given to Montero or

Eddie Johnson, who has scored in each of the last two matches, as

the Sounders continue a stretch of five matches in 15 days.

Union midfielder Keon Daniel is eligible to return Saturday from

a one-game suspension, but defender Gabriel Farfan’s three-match

ban continues.