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Union and Sounders Shed Expansion Tag

Union and Sounders Shed Expansion Tag

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Published by Ryan Sales

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Published by: Ryan Sales on Oct 07, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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10/17/2011

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Union and Sounders
 Shed Expansion Franchise Tag
Seattle Sounders FC vs Philadelphia Union
 
October 6, 2011
 
 Flashback to March 25th, 2010. First Kick, the inaugural match for expansion Philadelphia Union, and start of the 2010 season.
 
The stadium formerly known as Qwest roared with thirty-six thousand  Sounders fans and a national TV audience that descended on the young Philadelphia Union.
Twelve minutes in,
Steve Zakuani carved out a pass to BradEvans who neatly finished for an early 1-nil lead. A goal the young traveling Union neverrecovered. Possibly in awe of Sounders home fans, but more likely phased by the pace of play. Seattle played fast, so Philly had to counter with physical play to stay alive. Theircentral, back-line tough-man put his stamp on his clubs début. Danny Califf put a roughknee-check into the back of Freddie Ljungberg, resulting in a straight red-card ejection.Sounders went on to win 2-nil. It's the type of play expected from most expansion clubs. 
Sketch by Gabi Campanario - 8/5/09 at Barcelona Friendly  
The 2009 expansion Sounders FC raised the bar for future franchiseexpansion. Not only by Major League standards, but by expansionstandards of clubs in any sport. The Sounders were an exception that left  Philadelphia a tough act to follow.
 One year later both clubs are in second place in their respective conferences. Both clubseven hold mathematical possibilities of winning their conferences. Nothing remains of either clubs frenzied expansion pace. Both clubs now have settled into confident almostchampion like skin.
 
The Union took beloved Le Toux from the Sounders but missed the playoffs
.
Former
 
Sounders fan favorite, Sebastian Le Toux has rediscovered his scoring touch in recentmatches. All too familiar to Sounders fans who adopted him as a favorite in helpingthe Sounders win the 2007 USL-1 title. Le Toux was acquired by Philadelphia fromSounders FC in the 2010 Expansion Draft. Sounders FC left him unprotected and theUnion seized the opportunity. Teams can only protect eleven players from being drafted by expansion teams. 
The 2009 expansion Sounders FC set high marks even veteran clubs would love to hit.
 
Securing a winning record with 13 wins, win their first US Open Cup, maketheir first playoff appearance, and celebrate in front of record crowds. Philadelphia'sfans supported their team and opened a beautiful new soccer only stadium, but wereunable to win any hardware or make the playoffs. During their first offseason, Philadelphia took stock of their priorities. Rather than beinfluenced by the directions of other clubs, they began to forge their own direction. Theresult has been a team playing with acres more confidence. They are in second place inthe East and with a win against the Sounders on Saturday, clinch their first playoff spot. For much of the season the Union led the Eastern Conference. A conference exchangingleaders throughout the season. Top seed will likely change hands a time or two again before the final playoff positions are determined in the last three matches.
 
Philadelphia Union - 2009 Expansion
 
Their top-seeded form has waned since they rose to the top of the East early on. Theirmatches have been close and physical. Their defense ranks among the best in MLSallowing only 34 goals in 31 matches. Goals haven't come easy. 
 Philadelphia only trails Eastern leaders Sporting Kansas City by one point 
.
Retaking the lead and finishing at the top of the East would be a way to mark their confident rise as one of the best clubs in Major League Soccer in only their second year.

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