Though the Columbus Crew have only lost once during the MLS Regular Season in Seattle, the Black & Gold have yet to beat Seattle Sounders FC since the club joined MLS in 2009. The Crew will look to change that Wednesday night when they square off with Sounders FC at CenturyLink Field in the Emerald City (FOX Sports Ohio/10:30 EST).
"It's always tough playing (in Seattle). They have 35,000-40,000 fans. It's a very tough environment to play in and win in," Eddie Gaven said after Tuesday's training session at Starfire Soccer Complex in Tukwila, Wash. "They're definitely a team we can beat, I think, for sure. It's just a matter of bringing the right effort and getting out there on the field and doing it."
"(CenturyLink Field) is a really tough place to play; the turf, the atmosphere, some of the best fans in the league, they really get behind their team and it just seems overwhelming at times," Crew goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum echoed. "At the same time, it wouldn't be the first time they've lost at home. It's something we feel like we're capable of doing."
Both Gaven and Gruenebaum revealed that the Crew's previous misfortunes against Seattle do not weigh heavy on the team's mind.
"I don't think about it too much, to be honest," Gaven admitted. "It's just another game that we're going out and trying to win. It doesn't matter who it's against, really. It's just about coming (to Seattle) and trying to get some points and putting out a good effort."
"I find (the Crew's winless drought against Seattle) kind of interesting, but at the same time I don't feel burdened by it. I don't lose sleep over it. It's just one of those things. Sometimes one team for some reason or another gets the better of another team and that seems to be the case here. Year-in and year-out, they've got a great team. It's not shocking that they're successful every year. Having said that, they are beatable," Gruenebaum said.
Sounders FC is off to another solid start in 2012, sitting in third place of the powerful MLS Western Conference. Seattle has only conceded six goals in its first 11 matches of the season. Gaven and the Crew attack hopes to change things early on in Wednesday evening's match.
"We've got to put (Sounders FC) under pressure. We can't make the game too easy for their backs. We have to try and force them out of their comfort zone a little bit and create some turnovers, and then hopefully create some chances off of that to get some goals ourselves," Gaven said. "Hopefully we can out early unlike our last game against San Jose, come out strong early, put them under pressure, get some goals take some pressure off of our defense, and then go out and just play from there."
Scoring early in the match is something that's easier said than done for the Crew. The Black & Gold hadn't scored from the run of play in the first half in 2012 before Justin Meram's curling shot over the head of Jon Busch in the 45th minute of Saturday's 1-1 draw in San Jose.
"That's an interesting stat," Gaven said surprised upon hearing of the stat. "I feel like there's been some games when we've come out really well. One game I'm thinking of was against Vancouver where we came out really strong and and actually scored two or three goals but they didn't count, unfortunately. It seems like some games we come out strong and other games, not so much. I don't really know why that is, to be honest, but we have to find a way to make sure we come out every single game ready to go with the right attitude and the right mindset."
"That starts with the game against Seattle," Gaven finished.