Sounders FC @ Columbus Crew
August 31, 2013, 4:30 pm PT; Crew Stadium
TV/Radio: KONG 6/16; KIRO Radio 97.3 FM; KOMO2 (Spanish) and La Gran D 99.3 FM (Spanish)
COLUMBUS, Ohio – After winning three of its last four matches, Sounders FC will be looking to carry momentum from an emotional 1-0 victory over the Portland Timbers last week onto the road to the Columbus Crew on Saturday.
There, Seattle will face a team playing without its identity-defining midfielder, but in searching for its own identity, Sounders FC will have its own battles to fight.
“The Portland game was a big game and it was an emotional game,” Head Coach Sigi Schmid said. “The hard part for us is making sure that we’re emotionally and psychologically we’re back in this game.”
The Sounders are 4-7-1 in 12 road matches this season, but are an unbeaten 2-0-1 all-time at Crew Stadium. A historically good road team, Seattle will aim to return to that form of previous years to further elevate its standing in the Western Conference, where it now sits fifth at 11-8-4, just three points behind the second-place LA Galaxy.
“That’s what makes good teams is finding a way to win games. That’s something that we need to establish,” midfielder Brad Evans said. “If we want to be that elite team we need to figure out ways to win away from home against good teams.”
The Crew has been paced all season by Argentine playmaker Federico Higuain. His nine goals and six assists both lead Columbus. However, a red card in a 4-0 loss to Real Salt Lake last week means he will miss the match. Already playing without one veteran leader in midfielder Eddie Gavin, the loss of Higuain leaves further holes on the offensive side.
Dominic Oduro started off the season hot with eight goals at the halfway point of the season. However, he has just one goal since then. That goal came on July 27 in a 2-1 loss to Toronto FC and was the only goal scored by anyone other than Higuain since July 7.
“It’s a little bit of an uncertainty. There are different things they can do,” Schmid said. “He’s such an important part of their team and he plays with such freedom in their style of play that he’s a hard guy to replace.”
On Seattle’s side, Clint Dempsey is gaining a better chemistry with his teammates, which softens the blow of missing Obafemi Martins and Shalrie Joseph to injuries. The U.S. National Team standout will be joining Evans and Eddie Johnson in World Cup qualifying matches after the match on Saturday at Crew Stadium, but with another full week of training with Seattle under his belt, he is getting more and more comfortable with his new club.
“It’s just another week for him and it’s good for him to have another week with the team,” Schmid said. “Every game gets a little closer to understanding how this whole thing is going to work.”
Dempsey, Evans and Johnson will join the U.S. National Team after the match for a road game against Costa Rica on September 6. the trio will then return to Columbus to face Mexico at Crew Stadium on September 10 before heading back to Seattle ahead of a home match against Real Salt Lake on September 13.