BY SPNW Staff 07:30AM 08/31/2013

Sounders Playoff Edge: Games In Hand

The Sounders have been the hottest team in Major League Soccer since mid-July, and will try to keep it going Saturday when they meet the Crew in Columbus.

The Sounders begin their final stretch against Eastern Conference opponents Saturday when they travel to Crew Stadium. / Wiki Commons

MATCH: Seattle Sounders FC (11-8-4, 37 points, T5, MLS West) at Columbus Crew (8-12-5, 29 points, 8th, MLS East). TYPE: MLS. WHEN: Saturday, 4:30 p.m, Crew Stadium. MEETING: 8th (series tied 3-1-3). TV: KONG. RADIO: 97.3 KIRO FM; SPANISH: KOMO2 (Comcast Ch. 114) and La Gran D 99.3 FM.

Sunday’s 1-0 victory over the Portland Timbers, which attracted a record crowd of 67, 385 to CenturyLink Field, pushed the Sounders into the fifth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference, a good starting point for the next eight days, during which Seattle will play three matches starting with the Columbus Crew Saturday in Ohio.

Winners of four of their past five, the Sounders have at least two games in hand on every Western Conference playoff opponent. They oppose a Columbus side (8-12-5, 29 points) that has lost four of six, including a 4-0 drubbing administered by Real Salt Lake last weekend.

The Sounders have played at least two fewer games than every conference opponent, including four fewer than Real Salt Lake and three fewer than Colorado. Eight of Seattle’s 11 remaining games are against West opponents, including the final five.

Seattle has a favorable history against Columbus, having outscored the Crew 14-7 in seven matches, including 6-1 at Crew Stadium. The Sounders have scored in six of the seven meetings and held the Crew scoreless twice.

The Sounders will catch a break Saturday. Originally they would have faced two of the league’s top 10 goal scorers in Federico Higuain and Dominic Oduro. Both have nine goals, which ranks seventh in MLS, and both have started all 25 games for the Crew.

But Higuain, in his first full year with Columbus after joining the club midway through 2012, is out due to a suspension, leaving Oduro to pick up the slack.

An eight-year MLS veteran, Oduro is enjoying one of his best seasons. His nine-goal output is already his second-highest season total, after scoring 12 with the Chicago Fire in 2011.

The Sounders are 2-0-1 all-time in Columbus, where Sigi Schmid, who won an MLS Cup in 2008, previously coached.

“I always have a good feeling there,” Schmid told soundersfc.com. “I think the fans reception before the game has always been very good and very positive. Obviously when the game starts, I know they are behind the Crew and they are against us, but before the game, they are very good.”

Schmid is expected to start Eddie Johnson and Clint Dempsey at the forward spots with second-leading scorer Lamar Neagle taking a midfield role. Obafemi Martins, who sat out Sundauy,  is questionable as he nurses an ankle sprain.

“It’s an important game, but we try to approach every game with the same attitude and the same idea of trying to win,” said Schmid.

Largest Seattle Soccer Crowds

Year Date Teams Type Venue Att.
2013 Aug. 25 Sounders vs. Portland MLS CenLink 67,385
2011 July 20 Sounders vs. Manchester U. Friendly CenLink 67,052
2009 Aug. 5 Sounders vs. Barcelona Friendly CenLink 66,848
2006 Aug. 9 Real Madrid-D.C. United Friendly CenLink 66,830
2003 July 22 Manchester U. vs. Celtic Friendly CenLink 66,722
2012 Oct. 7 Sounders vs. Portland MLS CenLink 66,452
2009 July 18 Sounders vs. Chelsea Friendly CenLink 65,289
2011 Oct. 15 Sounders vs. San Jose MLS CenLink 64,140
2012 Aug. 5 Sounders vs. LA Galaxy MLS CenLink 60,908
1976 April 9 Sounders vs. NY Cosmos NASL Kingdome 58,218
2008 April 16 Mexico vs. China Friendly Cen Link 56,416

SOUNDERS PROBABLE LINEUP: Goalkeeper — Michael Gspurning. Defenders – DeAndre Yedlin, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Zach Scott, Leo Gonzalez. Midfielders — Osvaldo Alonso, Shalrie Joseph, Brad Evans, Lamar Neagle. Forwards — Clint Dempsey, Eddie Johnson.

CREW PROBABLE LINEUP: Goalkeeper — Matt Lampson. Defenders — Chad Barson, Josh Williams, Chad Marshall, Agustin Viana. Midfielders — Dominic Oduro, Will Trapp, Danny O’Rourke, Ben Speas Forwards — Ryan Finley, Jairo Arrieta.

INJURIES: SeattleOut, GK Josh Ford (right patella fracture), F Will Bates (right knee), MF Steve Zakuani (sports hernia surgery); Questionable, FW Obafemi Martins (left ankle sprain), MF Shalrie Joseph (right knee sprain), D Dylan Remick (left hamstring strain). Columbus Out, MF Eddie Gaven (ACL surgery), D Glauber (ACL surgery), GL Andy Gruenebaum (shoulder weakness), MF Matias Sanchez (left calf strain); Questionable, F Justin Meram (back spasms), MF Bernardo Anor (right hamstring), F Aaron Schoenfeld (right shoulder sprain). SUSPENSIONS: Seattle — None. Columbus — Federico Higuain. INTERNATIONAL DUTY: Seattle — None; Columbus — None.

SERIES: Dates to May 30, 2009, when the Sounders and Crew played to a 1-1 draw in front of 29,126 at Qwest Field, Seattle’s goal coming from Nate Jaqua. Sounders hold a 3-1-3 record in MLS play and 4-1-3 record in all competitions (one U.S. Open Cup match). Sounders have twice beaten Columbus by four-goal margins (4-0, 6-2) and lead in aggregate goals 14-7 in MLS play. Teams last met May 23, 2012 CenturyLink Field, Columbus winning 2-0.

SOUNDERS STATS / NOTES

  • REGULAR-SEASON SUMMARY (MLS): Overall: 11-8-4. Last 5: W-W-W-L-W. Home: 7-1-3. Road: 4-7-1. Vs. East: 3-2-1. Vs. West: 8-6-3. March: 0-3-1; April: 1-0-1; May: 3-1-1; June: 2-1-0; July: 2-2-1; August: 3-1-0; September: 0-0-0; October: 0-0-0. Goals For: 31. Goals Against: 26. Differential: +5.
  • MLS TEAM STATS: Goals: 31. Goals Scored Avg.: 1.35. Goals Allowed Per Match: 1.13. Shots: 273. Shots On Goal: 88. Fouls Committed: 291. Fouls Suffered: 293. Yellow Card Cautions: 33.
  • 7-0-2 when leading at the half, 3-1-2 when tied at the half, 1-7-0 when trailing at the half.
  • 10-0-2 when scoring first, 1-8-1 when conceding first.
  • Sounders ranks fifth with a 1.13 goals against average. Seattle’s 1.61 points per game ranks third, and second in the Western Conference.
  • Obafemi Martins has four game-winning goals (T4) and Mauro Rosales four game-winning assists (T3).

  • Sounders have won six season series: Chivas USA, Dallas, D.C. United, Kansas City, Portland and Toronto.

  • With Sunday’s victory, the Sounders reclaimed the top spot in the Cascadia Cup with seven points through four matches.

  • Sounders FC has the fourth-most wins (11) in MLS this season and allowed the fewest goals (11) in the second half, including four goals in the final half hour.

  • Sounders are unbeaten in 43 straight games (35-0-8) when scoring first.

  • Last Sunday night’s attendance of 67,385 was the largest for a soccer game in Seattle. It also marked the second-largest attendance in MLS history for a stand-alone match, and the third-largest worldwide last weekend.

  • Saturday’s match at Columbus is one of three remaining games against East opponents. Seattle will host Chicago Sept. 7 and New York Sept. 29. Overall, the Sounders are 3-2-2 against the East, outscoring opponents 8-7.
  • The U.S. Men’s National Team this week summoned Eddie Johnson, Clint Dempsey and Brad Evans for 2014 World Cup qualifiers. All will be available for the Columbus match, but will miss Seattle’s next two games against Chivas USA and Chicago.

SOUNDERS MLS LEADERS

Category Skinny
Starts Gonzalez 21, Traore 21, Yedlin 19
Goals Martins 7, Johnson 6, Neagle 5
Assists Rosales 6, Evans 5, Martins 3, Neagle 3
Shots Johnson 38, Neagle 37, Martins 30
Shots On Goal Johnson 19, Neagle 14, Martins 12
Fouls Caused Alonso 34, Neagle 30, Yedlin 24
Fouls Suffered Johnson 32, Alonso 24, Rosales 23
Offsides Johnson 28, Neagle 8, Evans 7
Corner Kicks Rosales 68, Martinez 17, Neagle 14
Cautions Johnson 6, Traore 4, Hurtado 4
Ejections 6 tied with 1 each

COMING UP: Sounders return home for three: Chivas USA Wednesday, Chicago Fire Sept. 7 and Real Salt Lake Sept. 13.

Seattle Sounders FC 2013 Schedule / Results

(11-8-4, 37 points, MLS; 1-1-0 CCL; 0-1-0 U.S. Open Cup)

Date Opponent Time TV W/L Score Rec.
3/2 vs. Montreal 7:00 KING L 1-0 0-1-0
3/6 *at Tigres 7:00 Fox Soccer L 1-0 0-0-0
3/12 *Tigres 7:00 NBCSN W 3-1 1-0-0
3/16 ^Portland 5:00 NBCSN D 1-1 0-1-1
3/23 ^at San Jose 7:30 KING 5 L 1-0 0-2-1
3/30 ^RSL 6:00 KONG L 2-1 0-3-1
4/2 *Santos TBD NBCSN L 1-0 1-0-0
4/9 *at Santos TBD NBCSN D 1-1 1-1-0
4/13 ^N. England 1:00 KONG D 0-0 0-3-2
4/20 ^at Colorado 3:00 KONG W 1-0 1-3-2
5/4 ^at Phila. 4:30 KONG D 2-2 1-3-3
5/8 ^at KC 5:30 KONG W 1-0 2-3-3
5/11 ^San Jose 1:00 KONG W 4-0 3-3-3
5/18 ^FC Dallas 7:00 KING W 4-2 4-3-3
5/26 ^at LA Galaxy 8:00 ESPN2 L 4-0 4-4-3
5/29 #at Tampa 4:30 —– L 1-0 0-1-0
6/1 ^at Chivas 7:30 KONG W 2-0 5-4-3
6/8 ^Vancouver 7:30 NBCSN W 3-2 6-4-3
6/22 ^at RSL 6:30 KONG L 2-0 6-5-3
7/3 ^DC United 7:00 KONG W 2-0 7-5-3
7/6 ^at Vancouver 8:00 NBCSN L 2-0 7-6-3
7/13 ^at San Jose 7:30 KING L 1-0 7-7-3
7/20 ^Colorado 1:00 KONG D 1-1 7-7-4
7/28 ^Chivas 8:00 KONG W 2-1 8-7-4
8/3 ^FC Dallas 7:00 KING W 3-0 9-7-4
8/10 ^at Toronto TBA KONG W 2-1 10-7-4
8/17 ^at Houston 6:00 KONG L 3-1 10-8-4
8/25 ^Portland 7:00 ESPN2 W 1-0 11-8-4
8/31 ^at Columbus 4:30 KONG
9/4 ^Chivas 7:00 KONG
9/7 ^Chicago 7:00 NBCSN
9/13 ^RSL 7:00 NBCSN
9/21 ^at LA Galaxy 7:30 NBCSN
9/29 ^New York 6:00 ESPN
10/5 ^at Colorado 7:00 NBCSN
10/9 ^ Vancouver 7:00 KING/KONG
10/13 ^at Portland 6:00 ESPN
10/19 ^at FC Dallas 1:00 NBCSN
10/27 ^LA Galaxy 6:00 ESPN

*=CONCACAF; ^=Major League Soccer; #=U.S. Open Cup


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