Sounders hoping for road improvement in Columbus

The Columbus Crew will be attempting to put last week's heavy defeat to Real Salt Lake in the past when the club returns home to face Seattle Sounders FC on Saturday.

The Crew had started to build some momentum with back-to-back victories that had the club firmly in the playoff mix in the Eastern Conference. However, the 4-0 setback dropped Columbus seven points adrift of the final playoff spot.

Not only was the result poor, but the game also saw influential playmaker Federico Higuain receive a red card, meaning he will miss the Crew's next two matches.

The suspension could hardly come at a worse time for Columbus, which has relied heavily on Higuain for scoring.

In fact, Higuain is the only player to score for the Crew since Dominic Oduro's goal on July 27 in a 2-1 defeat to Toronto FC.

With Higuain out, Crew head coach Robert Warzycha knows his team must make the most of its chances.

"We have to finish our chances. We're going to create the chances, but we have to finish," said Warzycha. "Fortunately for [Higuain], he was in the right place at the right time, and he's a good finisher. Now, without him, we're going to have to have somebody who can step up and finish those chances."

One player who could potentially fill the void is young forward Ryan Finley, who scored a hat trick in a reserve game for the Crew this week.

Seattle enters the match off of an emotional 1-0 win over Portland that saw nearly 68,000 fans pack into CenturyLink Field for the contest.

Eddie Johnson provided the lone goal in the match for the Sounders, who have won four of their last five games to move into the middle of the Western Conference table.

The victory was also big because it came after a 3-1 defeat to Houston.

"It's definitely an emotional boost for our team coming off that loss to Houston," Sounders midfielder Brad Evans said of the Portland victory. "It was a tough one. We definitely didn't play the way we wanted to play, especially defensively."

The test for the Sounders now will be to improve their form on the road, where the club has lost four times in its last five away match.

"We're a good team," Evans said. "We can win at home. But if we want to be a great team we have to do that [stuff] away from home. That's what championship teams do, they gut out wins away from home. That's the next step for this team."