Frequent Flyer Seattle Sounders Face Columbus Crew in Pivotal MLS Match

Bill HareCorrespondent ISeptember 17, 2010

Brad Evans was added to the Sounders roster in a move announced Thursday.  He will be eligible to play on October 2 in a home contest against Toronto.
Brad Evans was added to the Sounders roster in a move announced Thursday. He will be eligible to play on October 2 in a home contest against Toronto.Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

The frequent flyer Seattle Sounders played in San Jose, Costa Rica.  Their nearly 8,000 mile trip will be completed Saturday in Ohio’s capital city of Columbus.  They will confront the MLS Eastern Conference leader, the Columbus Crew, in a match set to begin at 4:30 p.m. PT.

Columbus holds great significance for Sounders coach Sigi Schmid.  It is the city where he achieved an MLS Cup and Supporters' Shield in 2008, his third season of coaching the Crew. Saturday's match is also a preview of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Final, between Seattle and Columbus slated for October 5 on the Xbox Pitch at Qwest Field.

Sounders FC reached the halfway point of its CONCACAF Champions League group stage campaign in a 0-2 loss to CD Saprissa in San Jose, Costa Rica on Tuesday night, leaving the team with an 0-3 mark in its first three Group C matches.  Earlier the Sounders lost 2-1 to CD Marathón in Honduras and 2-0 to CF Monterrey in Seattle.

Sounders FC is last in its group, trailing Monterrey (3-0-0), Saprissa (2-0-1), and Marathón (1-0-2). The team is now 12-12-8 in overall competition and tied for fifth in the Western Conference of MLS at 9-9-6 with 33 points.

Seattle seeks to strengthen its hold on a playoff position at Columbus. It is tied with San Jose for the final two playoff wild card slots.  After going undefeated in seven matches, Sounders FC has garnered one point in its last two outings.

The next three matches involve one in Champions League play and two in MLS.  Both are on the road. Although undefeated in its last five league home matches, Seattle has not won a road contest since July 31.

After a brief return home, Seattle plays at Monterrey on September 22 and Chicago on September 25, logging another significant number of flight miles.

Last week, the Sounders battled MLS Cup holder Real Salt Lake to a scoreless draw at home. Columbus lost to the L.A. Galaxy 3-1 but is still in a position to earn an unprecedented third straight Supporters' Shield.

The Crew leads the East by four points and is tied with Real Salt Lake with the second highest points total, trailing the Galaxy by three. It hosts Joe Public of Trinidad and Tobago in a Champions League match on Tuesday.

Seattle owns the only win in the series, having snapped a record 22-game home unbeaten run by the Crew with a 1-0 victory on October 3, 2009. Two meetings in the Emerald City have ended in 1-1 draws.

The Sounders announced two roster changes on Thursday.  One player was removed from the disabled list while another was added.  

Midfielder Brad Evans was removed from the list and will be eligible to play October 2 when the Sounders face Toronto FC in Seattle.  Evans, 25, is in his fourth season of MLS play. He started 11 of 12 appearances this season with one goal and three assists. His last appearance was June 10.

Pat Noonan, who plays at midfield and forward, has been placed on the disabled list due to an adductor strain.

As a result of that roster move the 30-year-old Noonan will miss the remainder of the season. Noonan is in his eighth season in MLS and first with Seattle.  He signed with Sounders FC on March 31. Noonan has started eight of 12 appearances with one goal and one assist. His last appearance was in a starting role on July 15 at D.C. United as he played 88 minutes in a 1-0 win.