Three Key Match-ups: vs. Columbus Crew

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)

Sounders FC concludes an all-Eastern Conference month of March on Saturday with its only meeting of the year against the Columbus Crew.

Here are three matchups to watch for at CenturyLink Field.

Osvaldo Alonso vs. Federico Higuain
Higuain plays a similar role to where Felipe Martins plays with the Montreal Impact, though in a more goal-dangerous posture. In Montreal, Alonso combined with the centerback pair of Djimi Traore and Chad Marshall to keep Martins from becoming too much of a threat and while he had five shots, they were often contested.

Higuain has shown in his 44 career MLS matches that he is both a threat to score and to set up his teammates, so staying tight to him will be of utmost importance and that is why Alonso will spend a lot of his evening as Higuain’s shadow. The Argentine star has 18 goals and 17 assists in a Crew uniform, including two goals and an assist in the season-opening win over D.C. United.

Sigi Schmid vs. Greg Berhalter
One has more wins than any coach in MLS history and the other is now three games into his MLS coaching career. However, Berhalter has two victories already to his credit. The question is how will Schmid approach the Crew’s 4-2-3-1 formation. Last week against Montreal, he opted for a 4-3-3 to pack the midfield, but that was in a road match. Will the success Seattle saw in that match be a harbinger of things to come this week at CenturyLink Field?

Chad Marshall vs. Old Friends
For 10 seasons, Marshall was a stalwart for Columbus, manning the center back position in 253 matches for the Crew before an offseason trade moved him to Sounders FC. Only five field players in league history have played more matches for one team and that list has him in elite company.

Now, he will play against the Crew for the first time in his career, marking a significant moment for him and for the Columbus organization. It’s a different situation than it would be at Crew Stadium, but will nonetheless be a different kind of gameday experience for Marshall. If he can keep those emotions out of the game and play the way he is capable, Seattle may be able to continue its defensive mastery early in the season.