Sounders FC vs. Columbus Crew
MLS Regular Season
Saturday, March 29; 7 pm PT; CenturyLink Field
TV/Radio: Q13 FOX; KIRO Radio 97.3 FM; ESPN Deportes Radio, 1490 AM (Spanish); THIS-TV (KOMO2, Spanish)
After Saturday, it will be four weeks before Sounders FC will take the pitch at CenturyLink Field again, so the team is looking to make the most of its home field advantage when it hosts the Columbus Crew.
There is an added sense of urgency for Saturday’s match because of the impending stretch of road matches that will take Sounders FC away from home to face the Portland Timbers, FC Dallas and Chivas USA. The past has just as much to do with that urgency as the future, though, as Seattle fell 2-1 to Toronto FC in its last home match on March 15.
“We were disappointed in our last home game. I thought we did a good job of carrying the game and possessing the ball and doing things, but we gave up a couple of goals that we really shouldn’t have,” Sounders FC Head Coach Sigi Schmid said. “We’ve got to make sure that we avoid that if we want to get three points out of this last home game.”
On the other side of the field will be a Columbus Crew team that has gotten off to a fast start in its two matches this season, posting a 3-0 win over D.C. United and a 2-1 win over the Philadelphia Union to earn a share of the top spot in the East at 2-0-0.
The Crew has utilized its top offensive threat, Federico Higuain, to jump to that early success, with the Argentine playmaker accounting for two goals and one assist through the first two matches. That brings his career MLS marks to 18 goals and 17 assists in just 44 matches since making the move to MLS in the summer of 2012.
“Higuain is a very good player, a very dangerous player. He’s a No. 10 who has a lot of freedom in their system to go all over the place and find different spaces on the field,” Schmid said. “You’ve got to know where he’s at, because he can create things for them off the play and he’s also very good on set pieces.”
He hasn’t been alone as an offensive threat for the Crew, though. Last week, Bernardo Anor tallied his first career two-goal game to earn MLS Player of the Week honors, scoring once when he went unmarked on a corner kick, then again on a 35-yard bomb.
A big part of that opportunistic offense has come from Columbus’ ability to keep possession. Balanced by a central midfield pairing of Wil Trapp and Tony Tchani, the Crew sets up in a 4-4-2 that looks a lot like a 4-2-3-1 and has outside backs, like Seattle, that like to get up the field in the attack.
“They’ve done a good job offensively of holding onto the ball, so we’ve got to make sure that we keep our fair share of the ball as well this weekend,” Schmid said.
Seattle will continue to play without U.S. National Team captain Clint Dempsey, who will serve the second match of a two-game suspension against the Crew, but could have the services of captain Brad Evans after missing the last game with a calf injury.
Kickoff for Saturday’s match is scheduled for 7 pm PT for the first night match of the season for Sounders FC.