Home is where the goals are.
At least that has been the case for Columbus Crew SC, which has scored 10 of its 12 goals this season at MAPFRE Stadium. After the Black & Gold were shut out at D.C. United this past weekend, they look to recapture their offensive momentum against Seattle Sounders FC on Saturday.
Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter is optimistic that his side can accomplish that.
“We’re more than confident in this group,” he said. “It’s just having the concentration for all ninety minutes and learning from your mistakes. I think we’ve learned, we’ve moved on, and I think we’re going to be a better team because of it.”
In D.C., Crew SC learned that against top teams scoring chances can be few and far between.
“Sometimes it’s just good saves for the goalkeepers,” midfielder Kristinn Steindorrson said. “It’s just soccer. So when we get the chances, we just have to keep hitting them on target and it will come.”
The Sounders know a thing or two about scoring, as well. Seattle comes to MAPFRE Stadium having netted seven goals in three straight wins. Crew SC defender Chris Klute and company will have the task of halting a Sounders offense that is anchored by U.S. international Clint Dempsey and Nigerian Obafemi Martins. Together, they have combined to score 11 of Seattle’s 13 goals.
Klute believes possession is the best defense against Seattle’s attacking power.
“Both teams are very offensive,” Klute said. “So it’s a matter of who has possession more. I think us having the ball, we’ll be able to control the ball more and control the game. I think that’s how we’ll build momentum and get the win.”
Berhalter said the task at hand is no easy one.
“We’re capable of beating any team, we know that,” he said. “It’s going to be a tough task though, there’s no question. Seattle’s a good team and they have, overall, a very well-balanced team. And you add to that two of the League’s best attacking players, so it’s going to be tough.”
Klute said the Crew SC defense is prepared to deal with Seattle’s scoring threat.
“We play players like that every week and you just roll with it. You stay as a back four and defend together,” Klute said. “They’re a good offense and we know that coming in, so we’ll work towards that the next few days and prepare for it.”
Seattle is returning to Columbus for the first time since 2013, when they shut out the Black & Gold, 1-0. Both teams met only once in 2014, with Columbus outshining a Rave Green squad and returning from Seattle with a 2-1 victory.
Saturday’s match will be the only regular-season meeting between the two sides in 2015 and a homecoming of sorts for Sounders Head Coach Sigi Schmid and defender Chad Marshall, who spent many years with the Black & Gold. For Marshall, who played 10 seasons in Columbus, it will be the first return to MAPFRE Stadium since he was trade to Seattle in 2014.
“Obviously, Chad has meant a lot to this club over a long period of time,” Berhalter said. “He played a big part in the history of this club and we’re always going to remember that.”
Nevertheless, the Black & Gold will aim to make the defender’s return as uncomfortable as possible, as they try to rekindle their offensive fire.
Saturday’s match will kick-off at 7:30 p.m. Get your tickets here! If you can’t make it to MAPFRE Stadium, catch the action on Time Warner Cable SportsChannel, CD 102.5 or La Mega 103.1.
Also don't miss this weekend's national broadcasts. On Friday, Orlando City SC hosts the New England Revolution at 8 p.m. and the Colorado Rapids welcome the San Jose Earthquakes at 10 p.m. Both matches are live on Univision Deportes. On Sunday, catch Toronto FC vs. Houston Dynamo on ESPN2 (5 p.m.) and New York Red Bulls vs. New York City FC on FoxSports 1 (7 p.m.).