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Final

Debutants and fresh faces key Seattle win over Union

SEATTLE — Another game, another shutout and, once again, another cast of characters.

Using their eighth different starting lineup in as many games, including a 22-year-old goalkeeper who was making his first MLS start, the Seattle Sounders posted a 1-0 victory over the Philadelphia Union on Saturday. It was the Sounders’ fourth straight win and their league-leading fifth shutout of the season, continuing their franchise-best 6-1-1 start.

“When we put the lineup together for today, we said we had three changes in the back, but to me I feel like we have seven starters,” Sounders coach Sigi Schmid said. “It is a team effort when you get a shutout. It is not just the defenders, it’s everybody together and I think we’ve done a good job.”

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Jeff Parke, who didn’t make his first start of the season until the fourth game of the season, was the only defender who started in both of this week’s games. Other key changes to the lineup included Bryan Meredith in goal and Andy Rose in place of central midfielder Brad Evans. Both of them were making their MLS starting debuts, and Alex Caskey, who was the starting left midfielder, had only started once before.

“It was a lot of fun, very exciting,” Meredith said of his first career start. “I didn’t have too much to do today. I came out on a couple crosses, they shot high. … Other than that, the defense really held it down. They just didn’t really even let them in the 18.”

Meredith was never really tested in the game, and was only credited with one save, which came on a not particularly dangerous shot. But he did do a good job of commanding the backline and making sure the few crosses that went into dangerous areas were taken care of.

Rose’s debut performance was not quite so boring. The rookie picked up a yellow card in the 18th minute and easily could have been shown his second when he made a challenge of Freddy Adu from behind in the 28th minute.

“The second one — yeah, I had a bit of a rush of blood early,” Rose said. “I’m glad I didn’t get sent off. It’s nice to get the first one out of the way and then kind of calm down a little bit.”

OPTA CHALKBOARD: Seattle dominate the afternoon

The other dramatic moment for Rose came in the 47th minute when his header from a Mauro Rosales corner hit off the crossbar. At the time, the score was 0-0. Rosales would eventually make that close call inconsequential when he finished off a Fredy Montero pass in the 63rd minute to give the Sounders the only goal they would need.

But that’s how it seems to be going for the Sounders these days. When one break doesn’t go their way, they just get another one, no matter which of the 21 different starters they’ve used is on the field.

“The main thing Sigi said is not to drop the level we’ve been playing at the last few matches,” Rose said.

Once again, they didn’t.

Jeremiah Oshan covers the Seattle Sounders for MLSsoccer.com and SB Nation.