Seattle Sounders vs. Columbus Crew | MLS Match Preview

SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC vs COLUMBUS CREW
CENTURYLINK FIELD, Seattle, Wash.
March 29, 2014 (WEEK 4, MLS Game #32)
7 p.m. PT (KCPQ-13 FOX; TWCSN-OH)

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Seattle Sounders FC and the Columbus Crew meet in a high-flying interconference matchup on Saturday evening at CenturyLink Field. Sounders FC are a point out of the top of the Western Conference, following their first road match of the season, a 2-0 win at the Montréal Impact. The Crew have won their opening two games for the first time in the club’s 19 seasons, knocking off Philadelphia Union 2-1 last weekend in their home opener.

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REFEREE: Allen Chapman. SAR (bench): Jeff Muschik; JAR (opposite): Jeremy Hanson; 4th: Alejandro Mariscal
MLS Career: 33 games; FC/gm: 21.5; Y/gm: 3.2; R: 6; pens: 7

SUSPENDED: SEA: Clint Dempsey (through March 30)
DISABLED LIST: CLB: Matthew Wiet
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none

HEAD-TO-HEAD
ALL-TIME (8 meetings): Sounders FC 4 wins, 15 goals … Crew 1 win, 7 goals … Ties 3
AT SEATTLE (4 meetings): Sounders FC 1 win, 8 goals … Crew 1 win, 6 goals … Ties 2

LAST YEAR (MLS):
8/31: CLB 0, SEA 1 (Johnson 14)

  • This is the only league meeting between the teams this season.
  • Sounders FC won the lone meeting between the teams a season ago, a 1-0 victory Aug. 31 at Crew Stadium – their third win in four trips all-time to Columbus.
  • The Crew won the last meeting between the teams at CenturyLink Field, a 2-0 victory May 23, 2012.
  • Coaches record: Sigi Schmid vs. CLB: P20 W9 L4 T7 … Gregg Berhalter vs. SEA: first game

SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC
Seattle Sounders FC hit the road for the first time and came away winners, defeating the Montréal Impact 2-0 in a weather-delayed match on Sunday afternoon at Olympic Stadium. Sounders FC are in second place in the Western Conference with 6 points from 3 games.

LAST MATCH

  • Sounders FC took the lead after just eight minutes. From a free kick in the center of the park, Gonzalo Pineda curled a delivery in the box that found the head of Lamar Neagle. His header came back off the crossbar and rebounded off retreating Impact goalkeeper Troy Perkins into the net.
  • The visitors doubled the lead in the 58th minute. Kenny Cooper corraled a loose ball near the end line and pull back a cross for Obafemi Martins at the far post to head home.
  • Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid made three changes to the team that suffered a 2-1 loss to Toronto FC at CenturyLink Field. Gonzalo Pineda, Andy Rose and Kenny Cooper came into the team, in place of Brad Evans, Marco Pappa and the suspended Clint Dempsey.
  • SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC (4-2-1-3): Stefan Frei - DeAndre Yedlin, Djimi Traore, Chad Marshall, Dylan Remick - Osvaldo Alonso, Gonzalo Pineda - Andy Rose - Kenny Cooper (Michael Azira 66), Obafemi Martins (Cam Weaver 86), Lamar Neagle (Leo Gonzalez 73).

TEAM NEWS

  • Sounders FC were out-shot 25-9 in the game delayed a day by snow in Québec, but still held out for their second win in three games, the first away from Seattle.
  • “We wanted to sit back a little bit, so I knew we were going to absorb some pressure,” Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid said. “We were trying to get forward on the counter, and I figured we could create some chances like that.”
  • With Clint Dempsey serving the first of a two-game suspension handed down by the MLS Disciplinary Committee, Brad Evans was also unable to feature after suffering an injury during the Toronto FC match.
  • Gonzalo Pineda made his first start in MLS, in a deep-lying midfield role alongside Osvaldo Pineda, and Andy Rose was given his first start of the season as the attacking midfielder behind the front three.
  • “It shows we have a good squad,” said Sounders defender Djimi Traore. “We were missing quality players like Clint Dempsey and Brad Evans, but we have other players that can come in at any time and do the work.”
  • Said Rose: “It felt so great. I worked really hard in preseason and it’s frustrating when you don’t a chance in the first couple of weeks. I just had to keep my head down and keep working hard in training and it paid off. When you get an opportunity, you’ve got to grab it with both hands because we have a very talented midfield.”
  • Lamar Neagle and Obafemi Martins were both again in the front line, and both scored goals. The pair formed the Sounders FC strike tandem in eight games last season; in those matches, Martins had three goals and four assists while Neagle had four goals and two assists as Seattle went 6-1-1.
  • “Me and Oba are kind of picking up right where we left off, finding each other,” Neagle said. “We always want to be dangerous and if we can connect, that’s a good thing.”
  • It was a second clean sheet in three matches for Seattle goalkeeper Stefan Frei, whose last shutouts in MLS play came in 2011 with Toronto FC.
  • “There are always going to be things against you when you’re away, but we showed a lot of character today and we grew a lot as a team with the defense we played toward the end, everybody putting their bodies on the line and Stef did a great job,” said Neagle. “ … I feel like this would be a great game to start a streak on,” Neagle said. “Away with all these things against us and we go up two and hold it when they were crossing balls in left and right. They had a lot of dangerous play and we were able to deal with it.”

COLUMBUS CREW
The Columbus Crew made it two wins from as many matches to start the 2014 season, defeating Philadelphia Union 2-1 on Saturday evening at Crew Stadium. The Crew sit in a tie atop the Eastern Conference, with 6 points from 2 matches.

LAST MATCH

  • The Crew took the lead in the 24th minute. Federico Higuaín provided a looping ball from a corner, and Bernardo Añor streaked untouched through the Union defense to powerfully head past Union goalkeeper Zac MacMath.
  • The lead was doubled in first-half stoppage time. From a turnover near midfield, Crew midfielder Wil Trapp found Añor in the center of the pitch. He turned upfield and fired a left-footed blast from more than 30 yards out that bent to the left and flew past the 'keeper.
  • Union did pull a goal back in the 62nd minute. Sebastien Le Toux found space behind the Crew defense and played a low cross to Leo Fernandes, who tucked a shot past Crew 'keeper Steve Clark from the top of the goal area.
  • Crew head coach Gregg Berhalter made no changes to the team that opened the 2014 MLS campaign with a 3-0 win vs. D.C. United at RFK Stadium.
  • COLUMBUS CREW (4-4-1-1): Steve Clark - Josh Williams, Michael Parkhurst, Giancarlo Gonzalez, Waylon Francis - Hector Jimenez, Wil Trapp, Tony Tchani, Bernardo Anor (Justin Meram 80) - Federico Higuain (Chad Barson 92+) - Jairo Arrieta (Dominic Oduro 66).

TEAM NEWS

  • For the first time in the 19-year history of the club, the Crew have started a season with back-to-back victories after the win vs. Philadelphia. Including the preseason, the Crew have not lost a match with Berhalter at the helm.
  • "I don't even know if they know about it," Berhalter said. "But I think we should be proud of it. You want to win every game you're a part of, and the guys have put a nice little run together including the preseason."
  • Crew midfielder Bernardo Añor hit for his first career two-goal game – including a stunning strike from all of 35 yards. Añor scored four goals a season ago.
  • “It takes confidence, and that's what you see in all the guys on the field,” Añor said. “Building off that confidence is going to get us where we want to be, and trying things like that is also going to create chances for the team and ourselves. We've just got to keep doing that.”
  • Federico Higuaín recorded his first assist of 2014, setting up the Crew opener from a corner kick, after scoring twice in the D.C. United win. The corner kick goal was the first from a set piece for Columbus this season.
  • The Crew had gone 151 minutes from the start of the season, scoring five goals without reply, before conceding their first goal of the season.
  • Wil Trapp set up the second goal with a through-ball from his deep-lying midfield position, a role with much more defensive responsibility in Berhalter’s scheme.
  • “If we want to play like that, which we do, there are going to be mistakes,” Berhalter said. “Things are going to happen, and you're going to open yourself up. But the alternative is to say we're not going to play at all, and we don't want that. We want to play, we want to open up, and we want teams to pressure us so we can play out of that pressure … It takes courage. I tell the guys all the time, it takes a lot to ask the defenders to do that, to ask [Trapp] to do that … but they're good players. They can handle it.”