Key Matchups At Columbus Image

Three Key Match-Ups: at Columbus

The Sounders will visit the Eastern Conference club today. Here are the battles to keep an eye on.

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 – Sounders FC takes on the Columbus Crew on Saturday from Crew Stadium for the only meeting between the two teams this season.

With the Crew playing without its top attacker, here is a look at a few matchups to pay attention to.

Eddie Johnson vs. Chad Marshall

Both Johnson and Marshall are strong in the air. Of Johnson’s 20 goals with Sounders FC, 11 have come via the header. Marshall, meanwhile, is a mountainous defender at 6-foot-4 and has been among the best aerial defenders in MLS for all of his 10 seasons in the league. In 2008 and 2009, he was MLS Defender of the Year and while he is not as dominant as he was in those two seasons, he is still quite formidable. Marshall’s center back partner Josh Williams is no slouch either at 6-foot-2. Johnson may be better served attacking with the ball at his feet or getting behind the defense with darting runs.

Clint Dempsey vs. Wil Trapp

It’s an established international star against an up-and-coming young prospect for the U.S. National Team, as Trapp will likely be the primary defensive option for the Crew against Dempsey. While Seattle’s Dempsey has 99 international appearances and played seven seasons in the Premier League, Trapp is well on his way to a standout career of his own. The 20-year-old Crew Academy and University of Akron product has 18 appearances for the U.S. U-20 National Team, including captaining them against France in the FIFA U-20 World Cup over the summer. He has started the last seven matches for Columbus in the defensive midfield role and while talented, his relative lack of experience may be an element Dempsey can exploit.

Dominic Oduro’s speed vs. Seattle’s defensive recovery

Oduro has nine goals this season, matching the suspended Federico Higuain for the team lead. While he has just one goal in the last seven matches, he is just as capable of going on a run like he did in the first half of the season that saw him score eight goals in the first 17 matches. He uses his speed up the wings to get past his defenders – primarily on the attacking right side, though he does switch to the left side as well – so the recovery of Seattle’s defenders will be important. While the outside backs will have the primary responsibility of slowing him down, the center backs will be called to action in instances where the outside defenders press forward and will need to be ready to cope with Oduro’s burning speed.