Major League Soccer

Sounders-Crew Preview

Brian Schmetzer does not believe the Seattle Sounders have built a "dynasty" yet but recognizes the scale of the achievement of a potential MLS Cup defense.

Seattle have won two MLS Cups in the past four years, playing in three finals, and have the opportunity to add to their trophy cabinet in a fourth final on Saturday.

The Sounders visit Columbus Crew, and pre-match questions focused on the defending champions' legacy.

"As far as the 'D' word, folks have asked me about that," coach Schmetzer told reporters. "The Storm, the women's basketball team, have won four, the Seahawks have won one, we've won a couple.

"I wouldn't quite put us into that dynasty category yet until there's a couple more. We're Storm chasers, if you want to say something cute.

"But the flip side is I am very proud of the success we have had, because MLS is a league filled with parity.

"It's been a different champion each year (since 2012).

"We understand how hard it is just to put yourself in a position to be back-to-back champions. We're not going to take this chance for granted."

Crew coach Caleb Porter is aware of Seattle's quality but is backing his own side.

"When you see what they've done and compare us to them on paper, they're for sure the favorites," he said. "But games aren't played on paper, fortunately. I like my team's chances.

"It's going to be a really exciting game. I told the guys I wouldn't want it any different. If we're going to win a championship on our home field, I want to do it against the best team.

"Certainly the Seattle Sounders are the best team - hopefully next to us."

Schmetzer replied: "Caleb's a very competitive, good coach, he's done a great job to get Columbus to host MLS Cup, so I feel exactly the same way.

"He has done a lot of work in a short amount of time and it's going to be a good, entertaining final."

Columbus Crew - Gyasi Zardes

Crew forward Zardes has scored nine goals at home this season, tied with Seattle's Ruidiaz for the most in MLS. Zardes has netted in five of his past seven appearances at MAPFRE Stadium, which will host its final playoff game on Saturday.

Seattle Sounders - Raul Ruidiaz

Ruidiaz's outstanding record is not just restricted to this season, though. He has nine goals in nine career MLS playoff matches, including scoring in last season's MLS Cup triumph. He has only failed to score in two of those nine postseason appearances.

- The teams played out a 1-1 draw in Seattle back in March, with Raul Ruidiaz's 79th-minute penalty canceling out a first-half Gyasi Zardes goal. The Sounders have not lost any of their past three matches against the Crew (W1 D2) dating back to 2018.

- Seattle have won five of their eight visits to MAPFRE Stadium (D1 L2), including their most recent one, a 2-1 victory in July 2019. Pedro Santos put the Crew ahead early, but Nicolas Lodeiro scored twice, including a 96th-minute winner. That match remains the last time Columbus have lost at home after scoring first.

- There have been three penalties awarded in the past two meetings between the Crew and the Sounders, one for Columbus and two for Seattle.

- This will be the ninth MLS Cup hosted by the team with the better regular season record, a rule that was put in place for the 2012 season. The hosts have won five of the first eight matches (D2 - W1 L1 in shootouts, L1) with the lone non-penalty defeat coming in 2015 when Porter's Portland Timbers won at MAPFRE Stadium against the Crew.

- Columbus enter their third MLS Cup on the back of four straight wins, equaling their longest winning streak of the season. The Crew have not won five straight MLS matches since August and September 2009, Seattle's first season in MLS.

- The Sounders have reached their fourth MLS Cup in five years and are looking to become the fourth team in MLS history to win consecutive MLS Cups (DC United 1996-97, Houston Dynamo 2005-06, LA Galaxy 2011-12). Seattle are the second team to play four MLS Cups in five years after DC qualified for each of the first four showpiece matches (1996-99).

- Schmetzer's side have won eight straight postseason matches, the longest streak in league history (excluding breakaway shootouts). Only one of those wins came on the road, however, a 3-1 victory at Los Angeles FC in the 2019 Western Conference Final.

Updated December 11, 2020

Sports Data API Powered by STATS © 2021 by STATS PERFORM.
Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS PERFROM is strictly prohibited.