Columbus Crew SC (5-12-2, 17 pts.) is set to close out another three-in-eight stretch this weekend as the Black & Gold play host to the Seattle Sounders on Saturday, July 6 at MAPFRE Stadium.
In a mid-week 1-0 road loss to Real Salt Lake on Wednesday, Crew SC rotated six players and implemented a young starting center back pairing of Aboubacar Keita and Alex Crognale for the first time this season, notably with Keita making his first career MLS start.
“These players balled out. They did very well. I am really happy and impressed with how my teammates played,” said forward JJ Williams. “I think we played very well as a team. It is just not making that one mistake.”
With the quick turnaround between matches, Columbus does not have time to dwell as the squad turns its focus to Saturday.
“We have a game in a couple of days,” said defender Aboubacar Keita. “We cannot be too down on ourselves. We have to move on and get ready for the next game.”
As for Seattle (8-5-5, 29 pts.), they are coming off of a 3-0 loss at New York City FC on Wednesday. Like Crew SC, the Sounders rotated much of their starting lineup on Wednesday in preparation to Saturday’s match.
Goal production for the Sounders is led by Raul Ruidiaz (6), Kelvin Leeerdam (5), and Jordan Morris (4). Notably, Ruidiaz and Morris will both be out for Saturday’s match as they compete in the Copa America and Gold Cup finals, respectively, on Sunday.
Currently, the Sounders are sitting in fourth in the Western Conference with a total of 27 goals this season, having lost four of their last five matches. Additionally, the Sounders are 1-5-3 on the road this season and have conceded 17 of 24 goals this season on the road. With that, the Black & Gold are hoping to use this match as a chance for different players to emerge as key contributors who may not have shown that thus far.
“It is one of those things where you need guys to make plays,” said head coach Caleb Porter. “Until we get a clear number one, we have some decisions to make. And that is the situation that we have been in. You always go on the evidence that you have, but if your evidence isn’t clear, then you are hoping that one emerges.”
Along with different players making plays, Saturday’s match is another match for the group to create some momentum heading into a tough second-half of the season. Following Saturday, the group will be bringing back some key pieces, including Wil Trapp and Gyasi Zardes, who have been away on Gold Cup duty, along with recent acquisitions.
"The bottom line is that the guys are fighting and giving all that they have," Porter added. "This is another game that we have to fight and grind. We have to figure out who can get the job done for us."
Kickoff on Saturday is slated for 7:30 p.m. ET at MAPFRE Stadium. Fans can tune-in on FOX Sports Ohio or 97.1 FM The Fan or stream the match on FOX Sports GO as well as stream the audio on www.ColumbusCrewSC.com.