Preview: Seattle Sounders looking to rebound on the road in Columbus

Seattle Sounders defense
Kim Kee-hee and the Seattle Sounders defense are looking to rebound after giving up five goals against New York City FC during the week. Photo courtesy of Lindsay Wasson/Seattle Sounders FC.

Preview (July 5, 2019) — In soccer there’s no time to dwell on the past. That notion will be stronger than ever and embedded into the minds of Seattle Sounders FC players. This weekend, the Sounders are looking to bounce back after giving up three goals to New York City FC on Wednesday.

On the road for their second consecutive match, the Sounders will enter MAPFRE Stadium with something to prove. They’re high up on the board in the Western Conference, currently taking the third place spot. However, Seattle endured a rough month of June. After going winless in all three regular season matches and dropping out of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, Seattle picked up a win against the Vancouver Whitecaps.

Now, the Sounders are looking to avoid a dreadful month of July. Seattle will look to earn a win before spending the month on a losing streak like they did in June.

On the plus side, the Sounders have Roman Torres back from international duty. Panama crashed out of the Gold Cup after falling to Jamaica in the quarterfinal. Nicolas Lodeiro is also returning from international duty, as he competed with Uruguay in the Copa America. Joevein Jones is also looking to make his Sounders debut this season.

Columbus Crew SC vs. Seattle Sounders FC
2019 MLS Regular Season
MAPFRE Stadium
July 6, 2019 — 4:30 p.m. PT/7:30 p.m. ET

Stream: ESPN+

What to Watch For: Who will the CBs be?

Defense is locked and loaded on the wings for Seattle. The Sounders are enjoying an impeccable season from Kelvin Leerdam, who is second on the team in goal-scoring. Leerdam scored the game-winning goal against the Vancouver Whitecaps.

On the left, Brad Smith has held the fort, but alternates at times with Cameroonian defender Nouhou. Either way, both players have found a rotation that works for Brian Schmetzer.

In the center of the defense, lineups have been altered. For the last year-and-a-half, Kim Kee-hee has been working with Chad Marshall. However, Marshall retired in the middle of the season, due to lingering injuries. Now, Kim is working with new centerback pairings almost every week.

For a while, Kim wasn’t even healthy. However, after a two-week long break for the Gold Cup, Kim found his fitness. He’s been paired with Saad Abdul-Salaam, Jonathan Campbell and newly-acquired centerback Xavier Arreaga.

On Wednesday, Kim started with Arreaga. There’s a bit of a different here than just playing styles. Kim came to the Sounders last season, with limited knowledge on the English language. While he still requires a translator for interviews, Kim has picked up some phrases to communicate with his teammates. Now, he’s working with a centerback that speaks Spanish.

With the short time frame between Wednesday and Saturday, the centerback pairing could change. This was also a pairing that gave up three goals to New York City FC. Could Schmetzer start them again to give them a chance to bounce back?

The Injury Report

Seattle Sounders FC

Will Bruin saw his season end with an ACL tear. Bruin had a good run of form and was looking forward to seeing more minutes during various Gold Cup and Copa America absences. However, his ACL tear on June 18 had other plans.

Another player that can’t seem to stay healthy is Víctor Rodríguez.

Rodríguez has battled various injuries during his time with the Sounders. When Rodríguez is on the pitch, he’s a force to be reckoned with. However, getting him on the pitch seems to be a hard task for the Sounders. Right now, Rodríguez is dealing with a left hamstring strain and is listed as questionable.

Seattle also has three players still on international duty. Raúl Ruidíaz will compete for the Copa America title against Brazil, while Jordan Morris and Cristian Roldan battle with the U.S. against Mexico for the Gold Cup title. Both matches are on Sunday night.

Columbus Crew SC

Will Bruin isn’t alone in sitting out this match with an ACL tear.

Midfielder Federico Higuain and defender Milton Valenzuela tore their ACLs during different times in the season. Valenzuela’s tear came first, back during preseason training on Feb. 8. Meanwhile, Higuuain’s tear came during the middle of the season, back in May.

Another defender is also listed as out, as Josh Williams is rehabbing a right foot injury. Columbus forward David Accam is out with a hamstring strain, as well.

Gyasi Zardes is out on international duty with the United States. Meanwhile, Columbus is experiencing what life is like with a goalkeeper not named Zack Steffen. Joe Benedik and Jon Kempin have been rotating for the starting spot under head coach Caleb Porter. Ben Lundgaard has also been recalled from his loan with USL Championship club Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC.

However, just today there was a shakeup in goal, as the Crew signed Eloy Room. Coming over from the Netherlands, Room featured for PSV Eindhoven and represents Curaçao. He was on the recent Gold Cup roster, starting against Steffen in the quarterfinal match up.

Room is not available for selection in this match, due to waiting for his International Transfer Certificate and P-1 Visa. He will be officially added to the roster on July 9.

“We are excited to have a player as experienced and proven as Eloy join Columbus Crew SC,” Tim Bezbatchenko, Crew SC president and general manager, said. “Eloy is a talented goalkeeper whose leadership and shot-stopping ability will help strengthen our Club. We believe Eloy’s background competing at the European and international level will allow him to contribute to Crew SC immediately.”

Last Meeting: May 5, 2018

Last year the Crew took a trip to the West Coast.

However, despite the change of scenery, the match still didn’t end with three points. Instead, both teams drew, with a bit of craziness happening in the first 15 minutes. Pedro Santos left the match with a straight-red card. However, the Sounders couldn’t capitalize on Columbus being a man down. the match ended scoreless, with each sit earning a point.

Prediction: Seattle 2, Columbus 0

Danny Leyva had a goal disallowed against Vancouver. Was it the right call? After further review, it wasn’t. Now, Leyva is itching for his first MLS goal — despite Schmetzer congratulating him post-game for scoring against Zac MacMath.

Seattle might be without three of their top players, but having Lodeiro come back will be huge. The captain is a magician in the midfield, and pairing him back up with Gustav Svensson will be vital. Also, you never know what Kelvin Leerdam is going to do. With the great run of form he’s been having, it would be disaster for another loss to go against the defense.

PHOTO: Kim Kee-hee and the Seattle Sounders defense are looking to rebound after giving up five goals against New York City FC during the week. Photo courtesy of Lindsay Wasson/Seattle Sounders FC.

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