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Seattle vs. Columbus (Match Preview)

Eddie Gaven will be right in the middle of a tough game for the Crew.
Eddie Gaven will be right in the middle of a tough game for the Crew.

Seattle is to Columbus as Columbus used to be to Toronto.

Since joining MLS in 2009, the Sounders have never been defeated by the Crew. Seattle has come away with three wins and three ties from the teams' six all-time meetings.

The Wednesday night game, starting at 10:00 pm ET, is the only meeting between the two this year. Columbus is currently sitting in seventh place in the Eastern Conference with 12 points (3-4-3). Seattle is securely placed in third in the West with 23 points (7-2-2).

Both teams played on Saturday, with each game featuring late goals. Columbus was up 1-0 in San Jose before allowing a 90th minute equalizer. Meanwhile, in Vancouver, Seattle was down 2-1 to the Whitecaps before Freddy Montero scored a 90th minute equalizer of his own to earn the Sounders a point in their race for the Cascadia Cup.

Prediction and more after the jump...

Columbus' injury problems are not getting much better. Midfielder Milovan Mirosevic was subbed out at halftime of the San Jose game due to a groin injury. He will not be available on Wednesday. This presents a quite a problem for Robert Warzycha and his midfield selections. Cole Grossman replaced Mirosevic and did a fine job, but is the trust and/or endurance there for him to go a full 90?

Eddie Gaven could always slide over into the center of the field, a position I've always wanted to see him in. This would most likely force Dilly Duka to start on the wing. However, Duka is just returning from a hamstring injury and only played for 30 minutes against the Earthquakes. Bernardo Anor is another option for a wing position.

On the other hand, Warzycha could attempt to bunker and counter attack with a 4-5-1 formation. This would allow Meram to slide back into midfield for more defensive pressure. The only problem with this lineup for the Crew is that they do not have a forward capable of playing up top by himself. Emilio Renteria is the best option, but he is currently in the doghouse; he is still goalless at this point in the season.

In defense, captain Chad Marshall's concussion problems are still holding him out. The back four will stay the same, with Josh Williams and Eric Gehrig manning the center right in front of goalie Andy Gruenebaum. Gruenebaum's performance on Saturday was one of the best goalkeeping displays I have witnessed. One can only hope he brought his heroics with him on the plane to Seattle.

Leading the attack for Seattle is forward Freddy Montero. With four goals, two assists, and the ability to score from distance, Montero must be shut down by Williams and Gehrig. Former U.S. international Eddie Johnson has been a welcome sight for Sounders fans this year. He has hit net three times while also setting up another in only eight games. Argentine Mauro Rosales is Seattle's attacking presence in midfield that the Crew have been lacking this season. Cuban Osvaldo Alonso patrols the middle of the park for the Sounders, sitting in front of their solid defense; Seattle has only given up six goals through eleven matches.

Prediction: Crew 0-2 Sounders

While the Crew were only minutes away from a road victory against a very good San Jose side just a few days ago, I doubt they will have the same good fortunes in the Emerald City. Seattle's attack and midfield are much better than Columbus'. The Crew's lethargic attack will have a very difficult time cutting through the Sounder's defense. Returning to Columbus with a point would be an extremely successful venture for the Crew, yet one that most likely will not happen. Expect Seattle to win handily, 2-0.