Union-Sounders Preview

The Associated Press

Winning MLS player of the month honors isn't important to Clint Dempsey.

The Seattle Sounders superstar will look to take his torrid play into May in Saturday night's home matchup with the struggling Philadelphia Union.

Dempsey returned from a two-game suspension for hitting a Toronto FC player in the groin with a spectacular four games in April. He had seven goals and two assists as Seattle went 3-0-1 with three straight wins to close the month.

"It's cool but more worried about the season and how we're doing and more happy to be towards the top of the table, be at the top of the table," said Dempsey, who leads the league with eight goals. "And hopefully we can keep this run going."

The Sounders (5-2-1), tied atop the Western Conference with FC Dallas, are enjoying their longest win streak since a five-game run Aug. 25-Sept. 13 that began with Dempsey's home debut. Seattle floundered after that stretch but has showed improved chemistry now that Dempsey has began the season with the team.

"It just doesn't happen overnight, it's a process," Dempsey said. "This year it feels like we're understanding each other better and we're circulating the ball better in the attacking third."

Dempsey scored twice and Lamar Neagle and Obafemi Martins added goals in last Saturday's 4-1 rout of visiting Colorado. Neagle and Martins have combined for six goals and seven assists.

"We're going up against the hottest team in the league right now," Philadelphia coach John Hackworth said. "And it starts with Clint and Martins up front, they're very dynamic, they're doing a great job."

The Sounders figure to be even stronger since midfielder Brad Evans is expected to make his first start since March 15. Evans missed four matches with a calf injury before playing as a substitute in the last two.

"I think it was smart to get a few good trainings and fitness sessions under the belt, and obviously the reserve game helped and a couple days of recovery," Evans said. "Now I'm back in the mix and looking to push."

Both of Seattle's losses have been to East clubs, and this series has been tightly contested with each team winning twice and two other matchups ending in draws.

Philadelphia (1-3-5), though, is in an 0-3-4 slide that is within one game of matching club-record winless stretches in 2011 and 2012. The Union are also 0-4-3 in their last seven road games before entering one of the league's most difficult venues.

"In particular when you play in Seattle, it's gotta be arguably one of the toughest places to play, loud, difficult surface to play on, all of those factors make this a big challenge for us," Hackworth said.

The Union fell 1-0 at Montreal last Saturday, extending their scoring drought to 190 minutes.

Midfielder Maurice Edu is one of three players tied for the team lead with two goals. Edu has committed 20 fouls for the league's third-highest total as he looks to disrupt the Sounders' high-powered attack.

"I think if you can't get motivated for that game, to get up for that kind of challenge, then you're in the wrong sport," Edu said.