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Sounders at Columbus Crew - Three Questions

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The fourth worst team in the league is hosting Sounders FC on Saturday. They will do so without their best outfield player and their number one keeper. Seattle is bringing the rain. It can't be returned.

Foot save by the Crew's HGP keeper
Foot save by the Crew's HGP keeper

Time for some good ole on field drama. Seattle has injury issues while Columbus will lack their best player because of both yellow card accumulation and a red card. This provides just another opportunity for Sounders FC. Both teams play at a high pace, which isn't a surprise considering Warzycha is a Sigi acolyte (transitions are key to soccer). Where they differ is Seattle is better on both offense and defense.

Guiding us through Three Questions is Patrick from Massive Report. This thread is only about the Crew v Sounders.

SaH: Without Higuain does the formation shift or does someone step into his role?

MR: There isn't really anyone that can fill in for Federico Higuain and I fully expect a formation change. Ryan Finley is just about to break through into the starting lineup after a hat trick in reserve league action. He's a poacher and likely will pair with Jairo Arrieta in a two forward formation. This is similar to what Robert Warzycha would do when Guillermo Barros Schelotto wasn't available. He doesn't try to replace the irreplaceable. It's hard to say how the Crew offense will respond. They haven't played without Higuain this year.

SaH: When Tyson Wahl was here he was more of an attacking fullback than a defensive one. Has that changed and can Seattle take advantage of him?

MR: Seattle probably won't be able to take advantage of Wahl. It's not that he's more defensively responsible, but it's that he's lost his job on the left. Many of the defensive flaws are still there and he really didn't add much to the offense. Agustin Viana has played left back over the last month after returning from injury. He's a better defender, but it susceptible to pacey players. Chad Barson, a rookie, has been solid, but is prone to inconsistency. Essentially, if the Sounders can develop some width, they can take advantage of the weaknesses on the outside of the Crew defense.

SaH: With five HGPs on the roster who are the guys that Columbus developed that Seattle fans should pay attention to?

MR: Wil Trapp is the real deal. He is playing far better than any 20 year old defensive midfielder has a right to. He's started seven games since returning from the U-20 World Cup. Robert Warzycha has felt comfortable enough to use him as the sole holding midfielder. He usually well positioned and sharp with his passes. Even though he's 5'8", he's held up to the rigors of MLS.

Two other HGPs should start. Matt Lampson is filling in for the injured Andy Gruenebaum. After struggling earlier in the season Lampson has settled down to be a dependable understudy. He has five starts and three shutouts so far this year. Chad Barson has started regularly at both right and left back and has been solid. He has a good pedigree after playing four years at Akron.

The most intriguing home grown player is Ben Speas. His performances have dropped off after a blistering start. He saw action in the Crew's loss in Salt Lake, but was subpar and was lifted after 74 minutes. When he's dialed in, he can change games, but he's likely will return to the bench now that Justin Meram is healthy again.

Significant Absences (Injury, Suspension): Starting goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum will miss another game as he rests a shoulder injury. Holding midfielder/Bulldog Matias Sanches is recovering from a calf injury. Federico Higuain starts his two game suspension. This will be the first game he misses all season.

Projected Lineup: (4-4-2 - L-R) Matt Lampson; Agustin Viana, Chad Marshall, Josh Williams, Chad Barson; Justin Meram, Wil Trapp, Bernardo Anor, Dominic Oduro; Ryan Finley, Jairo Arrieta

There is no reverse. We'll have a lineup post for Seattle later today.