OBETZ, Ohio – Avenging a stunning home loss last year. A preview of the US Open Cup title game. Sigi returns.
There are a lot of storylines surrounding Seattle Sounders FC’s visit to Crew Stadium on Saturday. But only one thing matters to the home team.
“Our No. 1 priority is to get a win,” midfielder Eddie Gaven said.
That supersedes putting together a quality 90 minutes even though the Crew are 7-6-3 in the past 16 games after a 6-0-2 start.
“We haven’t played our best yet,” Gaven said. “We’ve played well during some parts of games, but this team hasn’t reached its maximum potential yet, which is definitely a good sign.”
Inconsistencies on the field are a result of fluid lineups. Robbie Rogers (knee) has been missing from the left flank for six weeks. Emmanuel Ekpo (groin) was out for several matches on the other side but returned last week. Defender Gino Padula (knee) hasn’t played since July 14 and defender/midfielder Danny O’Rourke has been in and out due to a bad back.
While forward Guillermo Barros Schelotto is a mainstay in the lineup his partners have changed and Peruvian striker Andrés Mendoza has been in the mix only two weeks. Mendoza scored in his second MLS game last week against Los Angeles and had a steady outing Tuesday in a Champions League win over Joe Public on Tuesday.
“He’s still learning about playing in the United States,” Schelotto said of the Peruvian. “He has good technical skills. He has talent.”
Despite the inconsistencies on the field, Crew head coach Robert Warzycha is unconcerned.
“Who’s playing pretty games?” he said. “Everybody’s doing whatever it takes to win. You have injuries, a tough schedule and travel. Adding everything in and it’s all about the results.”
The thinking among the Crew is that they will eventually find their stride.
“In this league it’s all about getting hot at the right time,” Gaven said. “You saw that last year with Real Salt Lake. Maybe they weren’t the best team over the course of 30 games, but they got hot at the right time and ended up winning it.”
The Crew hold a three-point lead in the Eastern Conference over New York and will make up a game in hand Saturday against former coach Sigi Schmid.
Schmid left for the expansion Sounders in 2009 after leading the Crew to the MLS Cup the year before. In his first return in October, Seattle ended the Crew’s league-record 22-game regular-season home unbeaten streak.
Schelotto said Saturday’s match will be unlike the second meeting.
“It will be a different game,” he said. “We’re playing for an important three points in the league, but we know if we lose, we keep the first position in the East. But if you lose the other game, that’s the final, that’s it.”
Seattle are 1-0-2 vs. the Crew and the teams will meet again Oct. 5 at Qwest Field with the Open Cup on the line.