Seattle Sounders FC
Chad Marshall won't be the only one seeing old friends as oppostion on Saturday when the Crew takes on Seattle Sounders FC. Defender Tyson Wahl was selected by the Sounders in the 2008 MLS Expansion Draft and made 39 appearances in three seasons for the club before being picked up by the Montreal Impact in the 2011 MLS Expansion Draft.
Saturday's match will mark the first time Wahl has returned to CenturyLink Field despite having played for three clubs since his departure in 2011.
"It's definitely one you circle on the schedule," Wahl said of his return. "I have fond memories of being here. It's definitely been a while. Last year, we didn't travel out here. My previous team's just didn't go. It's exciting. It's nice to be around the city and I'm definitely excited to step out on the stadium field again."
Wahl helped Sounders FC to three-straight Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cups during his time in the Emerald City.
Chad Marshall owns nearly all of the Crew's club records win it comes to longevity, having played in more minutes (22,220), matches (253) and seasons (10) than anyone else in the team's 19-year history. For the first time on Saturday, the two-time MLS Defender of the Year will face his former club since being traded to Seattle Sounders FC in December.
"I think a change was needed," Marshall told SoundersFC.com. "I enjoyed my time in Columbus very much. Ten years is a long time. I feel like I grew up there, coming [into MLS] as a teenager. "
Though it will surely be strange for Marshall to see so many of his former teammates as opposition this weekend, the centerback admits it will be "just another soccer game."
"It'll probably be a little different to see the black and yellow on the other side, but there are a lot of players in this League who've played against old teams and teammates." he said. "Once the whistle blows, it's just another soccer game."
The Crew kicks off against the Sounders at 10:00 p.m. ET on Saturday night (Time Warner Cable SportsChannel / 95.5 The Game / 103.1 La Mega).
Though MLS Cup has yet to be played for, the silly season of trade rumors has already begun. According to a report from Sports Illustrated's Grant Wahl on Wednesday, Seattle Sounders FC is shopping U.S. Men's National Team forward Eddie Johnson. Since returning to MLS following a three-year stint in Europe, the 29-year-old Johnson scored 14 goals in 2012 and nine in 2013 and has seen a resurgence in his international career under Jürgen Klinsmann.
However, Johnson has shown he's not pleased with his salary situation, as evidenced by his "pay me" celebration following his game-winning goal against the Crew on August 31 in Columbus.
Would Johnson be a good fit for the Black & Gold? Like Dominic Oduro, Johnson can play either up top or on the wing to stretch defenses with his speed. Johnson will likely require a high price tag upon departing Seattle, probably more than the Crew would be willing to spend if new Sporting Director Gregg Berhalter hopes to retain Oduro, who is coming off a career year with the Black & Gold after scoring 13 goals.
Johnson scored at Crew Stadium twice in 2013, both with the Sounders and the U.S. National Team, and the charismatic forward has been complimentary of Columbus in the past.
What do you think, Crew fans? Despite the salary cap hurdles. do you want to see Johnson in Black & Gold next season? Comment below.
A HOMEGROWN PLAYER RECORD FOR BLACK & GOLD
Chad Barson, Matt Lampson, Ben Speas and Wil Trapp set a Black & Gold record on August 24 against Real Salt Lake by merely being a part of Head Coach Robert Warzycha’s starting lineup ... the quartet of Homegrown Players marked the first time in Crew history that four Homegrowns started a match for the club ... the addition of Ben Speas to the starting lineup trumped a previously set record of three Homegrown Players on July 7 against Portland.
A DIFFERENT CENTRAL MIDFIELD LOOK
With Bernardo Anor out with right hamstring tightness, Head Coach Robert Warzycha made alterations to his central midfield lineup last match at Real Salt Lake ... after using Anor in a central attacking midfielder role on August 10 and August 17, Warzycha placed Danny O’Rourke alongside Wil Trapp ... the start for O’Rourke was his first in central midfield since June 29 at Sporting KC ... O’Rourke made five con- secutive starts from July 4-August 3 at centerback before missing the match against New York (August 10) as a pre-game scratch with back problems ... he returned to action with a substitute appearance in the midfield against Toronto (August 17).
A CHANCE FOR OTHERS TO STEP UP IN THE CAPTAIN’S ABSENCE ...
With Federico Higuain out for two matches, the Crew will rely on other players to step in to fill the void left by the club captain ... should rookie Ryan Finley get the nod, the forward would be ready for his first MLS start following a hat-trick performance in Tuesday’s Reserve League match in a 3-1 win over FC Dallas ... other options include bringing Dominic Oduro back up top after a recent stretch of matches on the right wing ... of course, the club could also leave Jairo Arrieta up front and employ another midfielder in the attack ... with plenty of options for Head Coach Robert Warzcyha, the Crew looks to find its first goal not scored by Higuain since July 27 -- a Dominic Oduro tally at Toronto.
Before the Crew hosts Seattle Sounders FC in the only meeting between the two sides in 2013 on Saturday (7:30 p.m. ET / FOX Sports Ohio), let's look back at last year's clash in Seattle.
Having never beaten the Sounders, the Crew silenced the 38,000-plus fans at CenturyLink field following Justin Meram's first-half diving header to give the Black & Gold an early advantage. Andy Gruenebaum and the Crew backline fended off an onslaught of attempts from the Seattle attack before Emilio Rentería added some insurance in the 76th minute to secure the victory with a looping shot from outside the box to beat 'keeper Bryan Meredith. Rentería's stunning strike wouldn't be needed, however, as Gruenebaum made six saves to lift the Crew to its first victory over former coach Sigi Schmid.