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Preview: High-flying Sounders, Crew in Saturday matinee

SEA-CLB

Photo Credit: 
Getty Images/MLSsoccer.com

CENTURYLINK FIELD, Seattle, Wash.
4 p.m. ET (KONG/ROOT-NW; ONN; watch LIVE online)
August 27, 2011 (WEEK 24; MLS Game 235)

Two of the real high-flying teams in Major League Soccer meet on Saturday afternoon as Seattle Sounders FC play host to the Columbus Crew at CenturyLink Field. Sounders FC coach Sigi Schmid has yet to lose to his former club, now seeing his current charges in second place in the Western Conference after a 1-0 win at FC Dallas. The Crew are now four points clear atop the Eastern Conference, after their 2-1 home win against Philadelphia last weekend.

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REFEREE: Baldomero Toledo. SAR (bench): Frank Anderson; JAR (opposite): Ian Anderson; 4th: Alejandro Mariscal
MLS Career: 117 games; FC/gm: 24.9; Y/gm: 3.6; R: 46; pens: 45

INJURY REPORT: SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC — OUT: MF Steve Zakuani (R leg fracture); DOUBTFUL: DF Patrick Ianni (hamstring strain); FW O'Brian White (leg surgery) ... COLUMBUS CREW — OUT: MF Tony Tchani (R knee inflammation); MF Eddie Gaven (R lower leg contusion); DF Korey Veeder (L ankle sprain); DOUBTFUL: DF Shaun Francis (L adductor strain); QUESTIONABLE: FW Jeff Cunningham (R knee inflammation); PROBABLE: FW Emilio Renteria (L quad strain); MF Rich Balchan (L adductor strain); GK Alex Riggs (L oblique strain); MF Dejan Rusmir (L calf tightness)

INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none
SUSPENDED: CLB: Julius James (caution accumulation; through Aug. 28)
WARNINGS:
SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: SEA: Servando Carrasco, Erik Friberg, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Fredy Montero, Tyson Wahl ... CLB: Tommy Heinemann
SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: SEA: Osvaldo Alonso, Alvaro Fernandez, James Riley ... CLB: Kevin Burns, William Hesmer, Sebastian Miranda, Dejan Rusmir, Tony Tchani

HEAD-TO-HEAD

  • ALL-TIME (5 meetings): Sounders FC 2 wins, 8 goals ... Crew 0 wins, 3 goals ... Ties 3
  • AT SEATTLE (2 meetings): Sounders FC 0 wins, 2 goals ... Crew 0 wins, 2 goals ... Ties 2
  • Emilio Renter'a's second-half penalty kick canceled out an early Fredy Montero strike as the teams played to a 1-1 draw, May 7 at Crew Stadium.
  • Sounders FC are unbeaten in six all-time meetings with the Crew — five in league play, as well as a victory in the U.S. Open Cup Final last year.
  • When the Crew scored in the first meeting this season, it was the first time they scored against Sounders FC at Crew Stadium — Seattle had won both previous encounters in Columbus, both by shutout.
  • Coaches record: Sigi Schmid v CLB: P17 W7 L3 D7 ... Robert Warzycha vs. SEA: P5 W0 L2 D3

LAST MEETING (MLS)

  • 5/7: CLB 1, SEA 1 (Renteria 57 — Montero 7)
  • Sounders FC took the lead after seven minutes. Erik Friberg flighted in a cross from 35 yards out on the right to the center of the box, where Fredy Montero slipped between Crew defenders Chad Marshall and Julius James and flicked a header past goalkeeper William Hesmer.
  • But the Crew pulled level after the break, again from the penalty spot. Referee Mark Kadlecik ruled Patrick Ianni pulled down Chad Marshall on a corner kick, and Emilio Renter'a sent the resulting spot down the middle for the equalizer.
  • COLUMBUS CREW (4-4-1-1): William Hesmer - Sebastian Miranda, Chad Marshall, Julius James, Rich Balchan - Eddie Gaven, Kevin Burns (Emmanuel Ekpo 73), Dejan Rusmir, Robbie Rogers - Dilly Duka (Andres Mendoza 61) - Emilio Renteria.
  • SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC (4-4-2): Kasey Keller — James Riley, Jeff Parke, Patrick Ianni, Leo Gonzalez - Erik Friberg (Nate Jaqua 66), Servando Carrasco, Osvaldo Alonso, Alvaro Fernandez (Lamar Neagle 89) - Roger Levesque, Fredy Montero (Mike Fucito 84).

SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC

Seattle Sounders FC extended their unbeaten streak to three games, coming away from Pizza Hut Park with a 1-0 win against FC Dallas. Sounders FC have 45 points from 26 games on the season, moving into second place in the Western Conference.

LAST MATCH

  • Sounders FC gained the lead after just 16 minutes. A ball from Lamar Neagle from the left was deflected into the path of Fredy Montero by an FCD defender, and he led a streaking Mauro Rosales down the right flank, who in turn fired a low shot from 18 yards out to beat goalkeeper Kevin Hartman.
  • FC Dallas then went down a man in the 56th minute when Daniel Cruz saw his second yellow card of the game after referee David Gantar whistled him for diving outside the Seattle penalty area.
  • Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid made four changes to the team that played to a scoreless draw with Chivas USA at CenturyLink Field. Jhon Kennedy Hurtado and Leo Gonzalez came into the back four for James Riley and Tyson Wahl, Lamar Neagle started in midfield for Alvaro Fernandez, and Mike Fucito replaced Pat Noonan up top.
  • SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC (4-4-2): Kasey Keller - Zach Scott, Jeff Parke, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Leo Gonzalez - Mauro Rosales, Erik Friberg (Brad Evans 63), Osvaldo Alonso, Lamar Neagle - Mike Fucito (Pat Noonan 78), Fredy Montero (Alvaro Fernandez 68).

TEAM NEWS

  • Since a 1-0 loss to FC Dallas in Seattle in the first meeting this season on May 25, Sounders FC have gone 8-1-4 in league play — the only loss coming to Houston on July 30.
  • "It's nice that we can jump ahead of Dallas, but we know there is a lot left to play in the season," said goalkeeper Kasey Keller. "It's more of a confidence thing where you know you can go in and win on the road against a team that is in good form. We know we can play better, but at the end of the day we know both teams are most likely going to be in the playoffs and that is when it really counts."
  • The teams also have at least one more meeting this season — the U.S. Open Cup semifinal set for Aug. 30 at Starfire Sports Complex in Tukwila, Wash.
  • Mauro Rosales has goals in three of the last five league games — and three assists in the last six — after scoring the game's only goal in at FC Dallas.
  • Four Sounders FC midfielders have more than three goals this season: ¡lvaro Fernandez (six goals), Rosales (four), Brad Evans (four), and Osvaldo Alonso (three).
  • Sounders FC are now tied atop MLS with six away victories, joint with the LA Galaxy.
  • "I think the difference for us was that we have grown up a little bit as a team," Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid said. "We are more mature now. With the experience we had last year, we know what to expect and we didn't make silly mistakes because we have grown up a little bit."
  • Then on Tuesday, Sounders FC became just the second MLS team ever to win a competitive match in Mexico — and the second in as many weeks — with a 1-0 victory at CF Monterrey in the CONCACAF Champions League. Alvaro Fernandez scored the game's only goal in the 38th minute.
  • Here the Sounders FC team: Terry Boss; James Riley, Zach Scott, Jeff Parke, Tyson Wahl; Roger Levesque (Amadou Sanyang 84), Brad Evans, Servando Carrasco, Alvaro Fernandez (Leo Gonzalez 76); Nate Jaqua (Osvaldo Alonso 65), Pat Noonan.
  • "To come into Monterrey and win gives our team confidence as we go into games in the future," said Schmid. "Obviously we left some very important players on our team at home because of the amount of games that we play. So to win with the team we had we are very, very pleased."

COLUMBUS CREW

The Columbus Crew won for a second consecutive match at Crew Stadium, getting a second-half penalty for a 2-1 win against Philadelphia Union on Saturday evening. The Crew have 40 points from 26 games on the season, still atop the Eastern Conference.

LAST MATCH

  • The Crew took the lead after 37 minutes. Andres Mendoza freed Robbie Rogers on the left side of the Union box with a through ball, and his cross found Emilio Renteria, who cleverly one-timed a bouncing shot in over the line at the far post.
  • Five minutes later, Union equalized. Keon Daniel delivered a perfect corner kick from the right side and Veljko Paunovic ran past Justin Meram to head home.
  • But six minutes into the second half, the Crew again took the lead. Referee Mark Kadlecik ruled Philadelphia defender Sheanon Williams knocked down a cross with his arm, and Mendoza again grabbed the ball for the penalty. Union goalkeeper Faryd Mondragón dove to his left and looked to have made the save, only to see the ball spin under him and over the line.
  • Crew head coach Robert Warzycha made one change to the team that came back for a 3-1 win against the New England Revolution at Crew Stadium. Emilio Renteria came into attack for Tommy Heinemann.
  • COLUMBUS CREW (4-1-3-2): William Hesmer - Sebastian Miranda, Chad Marshall, Julius James, Josh Gardner - Kevin Burns - Justin Meram (Dilly Duka 60), Emmanuel Ekpo, Robbie Rogers - Andres Mendoza (Bernardo Anor 76), Emilio Renteria (Tommy Heinemann 70).

TEAM NEWS

  • After going winless in five games May 7-June 4, the Crew have won eight of 13 games with one draw, and now lead the Eastern Conference by four points, the biggest margin this season.
  • "This was one of the more important games this season for us. We battled for the top of the East and we were at home so we needed to win all of our home games," said Robbie Rogers. "To play against the second-place team in the East, I think it's very special we got this win and we battled all night.
  • After scoring four goals in three games April 23-May 7, Emilio Rentería went more than three months before scoring Aug. 13 vs. New England — he now has goals in back-to-back games after netting last weekend against Philadelphia.
  • "Emilio [Rentería] is not 100 percent fit but he is very dangerous in the box. We had to make the decision today whether to start him or use him later in the game and we thought it was better to start him and let him go as long as he could," said Crew head coach Robert Warzycha.
  • Andrés Mendoza netted his eighth goal — his first since June 26 — in taking the match-winning penalty kick. Mendoza is 3-for-3 from the spot; Rogers originally had taken the ball, but Mendoza claimed the chance. "Normally I take the PKs now," Mendoza said. "Robbie asked and I said, 'No, I would do it.'"
  • Renteria and Mendoza featured in the starting lineup together for the first time all season. The pair had been on the field together for just 57 minutes total before the Philadelphia match, due mainly to injuries.
  • "It was great to have both of them on the field but more than anything to have the guys behind them support them and also see them support the defenders. You want your forwards to score goals but it was a very good team effort," said Warzycha. "We understand each other," the Peruvian Mendoza said of the Venezuelan Rentería.
  • Rogers has four assists in the last four games, giving him five for the season. The total matches his career-high, set in 2009, and comes after he did not record an assist in 20 appearances last season.
  • "We always talk about the final pass and that kind of pass, finally, finally came at the right moment," Warzycha said. "Hopefully [Rogers] is going to have more assists as the season goes on."
  • The Crew have also lowered their goals against average to 0.96, third-best in Major League Soccer, and one of just three teams allowed less than a goal per game (LA Galaxy, 0.77; Real Salt Lake, 0.84).
  • "I think players like Chad Marshall and Julius James are leading the team when it comes to organizing our defense," said Warzycha. "I think they stepped up today and it's very nice to see that we are very organized, that we are talking and that we are very alert."