More members of Columbus’ 2008 MLS Cup championship team are with Seattle Sounders FC these days than with the current Crew.
Sounders coach Sigi Schmid coached Columbus to that Major League Soccer trophy. Sounders assistant coach Ezra Hendrickson played for the Crew back then. So did current Sounders midfielder Brad Evans and central defender Chad Marshall.
Columbus, meanwhile, has no remaining players from its championship season. The last of the bunch was Marshall, who was traded to Seattle in December after a franchise-record 22,220 minutes with the Crew. He will face his former team for the first time, as the Crew visits CenturyLink Field.
“I was the last one of that era after they got rid of Andy Gruenebaum and Danny O’Rourke,” Marshall said. “So I thought that was as good a time as any (to leave), with them having a new owner, a new coach. They’re obviously starting over.”
Schmid says the change of scenery has had a rejuvenating affect on Marshall.
“I think whenever you’ve been at a place for a long time, maybe a change of scenery is good for you,” he said. “… I think his quality is comparable to center backs who are in the national team pool right now (and) as good as any center back in this league.”
On Saturday, Marshall will be pulled in two directions.
“It’s a little different,” he said. “I just kind of look at it as another home game: gotta get three points. But it will be nice to see those guys after the game. … I spent 10 years there, so I’m always going to be a fan of theirs — just not so much this week.”
Columbus is off to the first 2-0 start in club history under new coach Gregg Berhalter.
The Crew has gotten two goals each from Federico Higuain and reigning MLS player of the week Bernardo Anor. On the other end of the pitch, Columbus is led by U.S. national team defender Michael Parkhurst and goalkeeper Steve Clark, who was acquired in an offseason trade with Seattle.
Meanwhile, the Sounders are 2-1 and have allowed two goals over their first three games.
Much of the credit has been directed at Marshall, who teammates say seems back near his levels of 2008 and 2009, when he won back-to-back MLS Defender of the Year awards.
“His physical presence is one that is probably unmatched anywhere in the league — maybe two or three other players,” Evans said. “… He covers some ground for a center back, and he always puts himself in good positions, and that comes with experience. First and foremost, he’s here for the team. This is a move he wanted to make and one (he thought of as a) kind of jump-start. In my mind, the best defender in the league.”
Evans began his professional career with Columbus in 2007 and came to Seattle in the expansion draft after the 2008 season. That passage of time has lessened — but not fully erased — the meaning of facing his former team again.
“It’s obviously my first club, and something that I’ll always remember: winning the championship,” Evans said. “(I have) fond memories of being there, but the team is much different now.”
Columbus crew (2-0-0; 6 POINTS) AT SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC (2-1-0; 6)
7 p.m. Saturday, CenturyLink Field
TV: Ch. 13. Radio: 97.3-FM, 99.3-FM (Spanish).
Head to head: Seattle leads 5-1-3, including a 2-1 win in the 2010 U.S. Open Cup final and a 1-0 regular-season victory last year at Columbus. The regular-season series in Seattle is tied, 1-1-2. This is the only scheduled meeting this season.
Notes: Columbus is 2-0 for the first time in its 19 seasons. … Columbus midfielder Bernardo Anor was named the Major League Soccer player of the week after scoring two goals in last weekend’s 2-1 win over Philadelphia. … Columbus leads MLS in passing accuracy at 82.94 percent. … Sounders coach Sigi Schmid, assistant Ezra Hendrickson, midfielder Brad Evans and defender Chad Marshall were part of the Crew’s 2008 MLS Cup-winning team. … Crew goalkeeper Steve Clark (0.50 goals against average) was acquired in an offseason trade with Seattle. Former Sounders defender Tyson Wahl is a Crew reserve. … Sounders designated player Clint Dempsey will serve the second of his two-game suspension, and Evans (calf) is questionable. … The Sounders on Friday announced the signing of Kevin Parsemain, a 26-year-old forward from Martinique who started training with the club before this season. … Former NASL Sounders defender Mike England will be honored as part of the club’s 40-year anniversary celebration. … The American Red Cross will be at stadium gates taking donations for disaster relief. … The referee is Allen Chapman.
Quotable: “We want to establish ourselves at home. I thought we played fairly well the last time (in a 2-1 home loss to Toronto FC on March 15) but didn’t get the result we needed. We want to make sure we get the result this time.” — Schmid.
Next: Sounders at Portland, noon April 5, NBC Sports Network.Don Ruiz: 253-597-8808 email@example.com blog.thenewstribune.com/soccer @donruiztnt firstname.lastname@example.org