TUKWILA, Wash. — The road has not been as kind to the Seattle Sounders this season as it has in years past.
After averaging just 4.25 road losses a year over their first four seasons, the Sounders already have a franchise-worst seven this year.
They know Saturday’s game against the Columbus Crew (7:30 pm ET, watch on MLS Live) presents a golden opportunity to get back on track away from the comfortable confines of CenturyLink Field.
“I think that’s what we need to do,” Sounders midfielder Brad Evans said. “If we really want to test ourselves, and put us in that upper echelon of teams, we need to start getting results on the road.”
The win over the Timbers left the Sounders in playoff position for the first time in a couple months and with the second-best points-per-game figure in the Western Conference. They’ll need to build on that in order to keep those positions. But that’s built mostly on the back of their play at CenturyLink, where they are 7-1-3.
Looking at the rest of the schedule, there won’t be many better opportunities to pick up road points than this game. The Crew are currently mired in a run of games in which they have lost 7 of 10.
The Crew will also be without leading scorer Federico Higuain, who is suspended after picking up a pair of yellow cards last week. Higuain has scored all four of the Crew’s goals over their last three matches and has scored or assisted on 8 of the Crew’s last 11 goals.
With or without Higuain, the Sounders know they’ll need a defensive effort more like the one against the Timbers than they had in their last road game.
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“One of the things we talked about was in the Houston game our midfield didn’t really recover the ball all that greatly,” Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid said. “In the Portland game that changed. I think we had something like 27 more recoveries than we had in the Houston game. Our midfield as a whole was working hard to close things down, we were winning the ball back sooner. When you do that, that leads to offense too.
“We knew and we talked about it after Houston and at the end of the day, giving up three goals is not going to win us a championship. When we’re on the road, we have to tighten things up defensively.”