Columbus Crew SC return home looking for the magic of MAPFRE Stadium to return them to the win column after last week's 2-0 defeat to D.C. United. Before the road debacle, Columbus had two massive home victories in a row. With the Seattle Sounders coming to town, head coach Gregg Berhalter's side hopes to turn things around.
The good news is Berhalter is 1-0 against Sigi Schmid and the Sounders after defeating the Rave Green in dramatic fashion a year ago at CenturyLink Field. The bad news is Schmid has had nothing but success with Seattle in Columbus, a place he used to call home, as Crew SC are 0-3-1 at home against the Sounders.
The Rave Green are currently third in the Western Conference with 16 points and enter this match on a three-game winning streak. After traveling across the country a week ago, dispatching of New York City FC 3-1, Seattle may be a bit tired with a second straight road contest.
You are probably familiar with the Sounders due to the team's consistent appearance on national television each week, but for a more in-depth look at the side, I turned to Dave Clark of Sounder at Heart to get the real ins and outs.
Massive Report: Eleven goals and six assists between Clint Dempsey and Obafemi Martins in what is likely the best attack in the league. Aside from pure talent, what makes these two so good together and for the Sounders' system
Sounder at Heart: They've got a vibe that is impossible to replicate. They see things that we can't see. A little turn of a head, a back heel flick and a sprint through the defense and one is on goal while the other is charging in just in case there's a rebound. The two can be spinning like tops about 24 yards out, surrounded by the opposition. Standing just ten yards from each other mobbed, and yet after a few touches one bursts free. It keeps happening. Marco Pappa and Lamar Neagle sometimes enter their sphere, but Clint and Oba are something that this league rarely sees.
Each are among the top 10 players in the league. Their drift compatibility puts them both at the top of the MVP lists this year and last. If that silly World Cup hadn't gotten in the way Dempsey would have joined Keane and Martins in the 2014 debate.
Martins and Dempsey belong in a list like Payton & Kemp, Ender & Bean, Moirraine & Lan, Ken & Ryu, Han & Chewie. They equally great, equally capable of the amazing. This is not Jordan and Pippen where a great is supported by the good.
Both have extraordinary first touches where they can reign the ball if it is within a few yards of their body. Regularly they display exceptional vision. The finishing is exceptional. Each can drop back and become a playmaker. Deuce and Oba have speed and strength. When these two burst free they are taking shots from inside the area.
Other teams take more shots than the Sounders, but other teams don't take more shots by World Cup quality talent from dangerous positions.
MR: This team is obviously more than the two strikers listed above, despite them stealing much of the headlines. Who are a couple of other players Crew SC fans should be aware of heading into this match? Marco Pappa? Andy Rose?
SaH: Lamar Neagle once hattricked the Crew, so the fans are probably already aware of him. Last year he was the third option in the attack. Neagle's 2014 fell just short of a double-double with nine goals and nine assists in league play. Only seven players did the double-double (Martins and Dempsey are on that list). He's struggling a bit this year, but he remains a respectable threat.
Slippery and skillful Marco Pappa may only be the fourth best attacker for the Sounders. The Guatemalan star will finish the year with 5-8 goals and looks likely to exceed his personal assist high of just five (already at 3). He's the Sounder most likely to play magical games with Clinfemi, generally tucking underneath the two forwards leaving his flank open.
Rose does a great job with late runs and offers a strong aerial presence. Andy is likely an early sub on Saturday.
Gonzalo Pineda is the box-to-box engine for the team. He isn't flashy. Pineda can change the tempo better than any Sounder and can drop a long pass on Obafempsey's feet from 60+ yards.
MR: The Sounders are in their seventh season and have been successful, but still no MLS Cup in the trophy cabinet. How frustrated are those in Seattle with this fact and at what point might the club have to move on from Sigi Schmid?
SaH: Now, I'm a vocal minority of the majority that thinks that Sigi's been a damn fine coach. While I'd love to have an MLS Cup I look at 4 CONCACAF Champions League appearances, six trips to the MLS Cup Playoffs, four Open Cups, 1 Supporters Shield, a Cascadia Cup, the second most wins from 2009 to the present, beating a Liga MX team in Mexico, beating a Liga MX team in knockout rounds and think to myself "I want to fail like that."
I hope Sigi fails like that in 2015. The goals this year are simple - challenge for every single trophy with an emphasis on MLS Cup and another perfect CCL Group Stage. That almost certainly means an Open Cup semifinal trip or better. It probably includes a team that is competing for the Shield in the final couple weeks of the season.
If he does that then no matter the fan outcry Roth, Hanauer & Lagerwey will keep him around for another couple years.
For Massive Report's questions to Sounder at Heart visit the question exchange on their site. I recommend checking the comment section.