After back-to-back runs to the MLS Cup Final (one win and one loss), the Sounders are not off to a great start in 2018 with one win, and just four points through six games this year, and sit at the bottom of the Western Conference.
Crew SC meanwhile started this season off brightly, going unbeaten through the team’s first four matches before a four-game slide. Last week, Columbus got back to winning ways, but can the Black & Gold take that recipe for success and translate it on the road.
This game also marks a stretch of three matches in eight days for Crew SC. Will head coach Gregg Berhalter prioritize two home contests against Eastern Conference opposition next week over a road west coast game?
Let’s see what our staff thinks on this one.
A quick look in the standings shows the Sounders at the bottom of the Western Conference, but don’t be fooled by it. Seattle has played as least one match less than each of its rivals and the MLS Cup runners-up clearly have talent on their roster, with names as Nicolas Lodeiro, Clint Dempsey, Roman Torres and Cristian Roldan.
Don’t expect this match to be an easy one for Crew SC, even with the team returning to its winning ways this past weekend. The Black & Gold have not conceded more than one goal while playing on the road this season and if they can keep this consistency and take advantage of at least one of the opportunities they will certainly have, they could happily return to Ohio with one point in the books.
Columbus Crew SC 1 Seattle Sounders 1
Right now, I’m not feeling real confident about this team’s ability to go on the road and get a result, especially in Seattle, which is one of the longer road trips of the season in a tough environment. And we’ve seen this club struggle on the road on turf before. That’s a big reason why, even as Seattle has struggled heavily through the first two months of the season, I don’t feel great about this one for Crew SC.
Seattle’s big struggle this year has been offensively, really struggling to find the back of the net without a high-quality striker on the field and a transition game that has been sluggish. But it has remained solid defensively. Last week the Sounders went on the road without their starting center backs (likely the case this weekend) and still held Los Angeles FC — a team that has not had trouble scoring — scoreless for more than 90 minutes, even then only conceding on a set piece and lackluster goalkeeping. That’s all bad news for Columbus, I believe. I could see this turning into a repeat of the last two road matches.
Seattle Sounders 1 Columbus Crew SC 0
To me, this is one of the trickiest games of the year so far for Crew SC. Not only does the team have to go out west for the first time in 2018, but the group doesn’t head out there in the best form after only one win in the last five matches.
While the Sounders haven’t had a good start to the season, I still believe this is a team with enough talent to figure things out. When they do it is my question. I worry that it could start this weekend.
The Black & Gold need to remain strong defensively and not allow a goal on the only shot on target, as the team has in recent weeks. If Crew SC can do that, and continue to create offensive chances the team has in recent weeks, maybe they come out of Seattle with something. I just don’t see it happening.
Seattle Sounders 2 Columbus Crew SC 1
The winless streak ended, but Columbus didn’t look great against the San Jose Earthquakes. This is a team that can control games and has cut down on chances defensively, but finally got some luck to finish some of those good shots on offense. If that “luck” holds, they have the quality to compete with any team in the league.
Seattle looks a little like Crew SC. They’ve created chances, but have been unlucky. The Sounders have struggled with makeshift lineups and injuries. While they got a win over Minnesota United, Seattle still ended up on the losing end of LAFC’s home debut.
Crew SC is now healthy at the right time. This gives Gregg Berhalter options as the team faces it’s first three-game-in-eight-day stretch of the year. This means that Columbus doesn’t have to rely only on Cristian Martinez, Niko Hansen or Adam Jahn. They can change the game with Mike Grella or Eduardo Sosa off the bench. A healthy Black & Gold continues on their winning ways by playing solid defense while the depth of offensive weapons give them the ability to get past a dinged up Sounders team.
Columbus Crew SC 1 Seattle Sounders 0
Crew SC head west to kick off the first of a three-games-in-eight-days run. Any time you cross time zones, there is potential for trouble. Even if you consider the fact that Seattle currently sits at the bottom of the Western Conference with a single win, Crew SC has shown that they can lose to bad teams. With almost a fully healthy roster, Gregg Berhalter has some options, but will he use them? We will find out on Saturday. While Crew SC “should” win this game, I would not be surprised by a tie.
Columbus Crew SC 2 Seattle Sounders 2
Agree? Disagree? What is your prediction for Saturday’s match?