MLS Soccer

Visit to Columbus special for three Sounders

Seattle Sounders FC has more participants from the Columbus Crew’s 2008 MLS Cup team than the Crew does.

That’s not difficult, as Columbus has had total roster turnover since then. The longest-tenured current player came aboard in 2011.

Meanwhile, defenders Brad Evans and Chad Marshall are now with the Sounders, along with coach Sigi Schmid.

That means Saturday will bring a homecoming of sorts for all three, as the Sounders visit Columbus. Evans and Schmid have been through it before, as they moved immediately from the 2008 championship Crew to the 2009 expansion Sounders. However, this will be Marshall’s first return since being traded to Seattle in December 2013.

“It’s going to be different being in the other locker room,” he said. “But it’s going to be nice to see some old friends, be back in the stadium. … Me and Andy Gruenebaum were kind of the last players from that era. When we left they got a whole new coaching staff, and obviously they had a new owner, and things have changed a lot there.”

The first to go was Evans, who went from champion celebration to expansion list in a matter of days.

“Sunday we won; Monday flew back; Tuesday end of the year meetings, I found out I wasn’t protected. And then Wednesday on the flight home to Arizona was when I was selected,” he said. “… It was a special group, one that if I could have been a part of I would have. I think they won Supporters’ Shield the next year also. So being part of that group would have been special. But at the end of the day, I’m in Seattle, and there’s no place I would rather be.”

Schmid left soon after, but that was by choice. He was at the end of his three-year contract with the Crew, and Seattle offered lots of money, a return to the West Coast and a new challenge. About three weeks after the MLS Cup final, he joined Evans in Seattle — although he had no say in either Evans being put on the expansion list, nor his being selected by the Sounders.

“They left him exposed — I’m not sure why,” Schmid said. “I wasn’t involved in those decision anymore as to who they were going to protect or not protect. I know that when I saw the draft list I was surprised to see him on there. To pick him up was a good addition for the Sounders at the time.”

This season has brought even more changes to Columbus, as the club rebranded with a new classic crest and added an “SC” to the team name.

Coach Gregg Berhalter is in his second season in Columbus and has the Crew off to a 3-3-2 start after going 14-10-10 last year.

“Gregg has done a good job because he’s had a philosophy and he’s stuck with it,” Schmid said. “It was a little bit hard at times at the beginning of last season, but he stayed true to that form. He’s a very determined individual. He’s a hard-working guy. I’ve known Gregg for a few years from his playing days, and he’s always been a guy who’s set very concrete goals and gone after them. …. I think that personality rubs off on his team.”