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Originally published May 23, 2012 at 9:38 PM | Page modified May 23, 2012 at 10:57 PM

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Sounders FC falls 2-0 to Columbus at home

Seattle suffers second consecutive home loss as Emilio Renteria seals match for Crew with 30-yard shot.

Seattle Times staff reporter

Saturday

Sounders @ Chivas USA, 7:30 p.m., Ch. 5

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One would think record crowds that rival support from the top leagues in the world would be more of an advantage. But despite another impressive turnout, Sounders FC lost its second straight game at home, 2-0, to the Columbus Crew in front of 38,311 Wednesday.

All of Seattle's three losses in a 7-3-2 start, which is still a franchise best, have come at CenturyLink Field.

Overall, the Sounders are winless in their last three games.

"We need to soul search," said coach Sigi Schmid. "I need to soul search; our staff needs to. We need to figure out what are things we need to do."

And of the struggles at home?

"It's like I've told you before, teams get pumped up to play here," Schmid said. "Teams find their best games sometimes when they play here."

Nursing a one-goal lead in the second half, Columbus (4-4-3) put the game away in the 76th minute with a brilliant insurance goal from Emilio Renteria. The sturdy forward fired a half volley from 30 yards that powered through a diving save attempt by goalkeeper Bryan Meredith, who was caught a little out of position.

The stunning strike was the fourth goal allowed by Seattle in the last two games. That comes after the Sounders had allowed just four in the first 10 games of the season.

"I'm very disappointed in myself, for sure," said Meredith, who allowed goals on Columbus' only two shots on target. "Definitely not a good day for me, not a good day for the team. Right now, we're in a little bit of a slump and we have to find our way out of it."

Comeback efforts from the home team didn't amount to much as Columbus earned its first win in the series. Seattle came into the game with a 4-0-3 record against the Crew in all competitions, including a win in the 2010 U.S. Open Cup final.

Fortunes might have been different in the second half had it not been for a couple of standout saves by Columbus goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum. Seattle forward Fredy Montero, who's scored four goals in May, had an open look in the 51st minute that seemed destined for the net until a fine reflex save by Gruenebaum.

"He came up big," said Sounders midfielder David Estrada of Gruenebaum, who made six saves.

Columbus absorbed most of the pressure to start the first half but took the lead in the 15th minute when midfielder Justin Meram outworked Seattle's Adam Johansson to head in a cross from Dilly Duka. It marked the third straight game that the Sounders had allowed the first goal.

Seattle dominated the first half statistically, with significant advantages in shots (10-3), corner kicks (6-0) and possession (60.5 percent), and its best chances to level the score before the break came in stoppage time.

Midfielder Brad Evans, who had missed the last two games with a calf strain, fired a shot wide in the second of three added minutes. Just moments before the halftime whistle, midfielder Alvaro Fernandez headed a cross from David Estrada inches wide of the goal.

Schmid rued the miss by Fernandez, but pointed the finger at himself after the game.

"Right now, we seem to be not on the same page at times ... and that's my job," the coach said. "I've got to make sure we get on the same page."

NOTES

• Five of Sounders FC's next six MLS games are on the road, starting at Chivas USA at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

• Tickets for Seattle's U.S. Open Cup third-round game against the Atlanta Silverbacks of the NASL go on sale at 10 a.m. Thursday and will be available through Ticketmaster, the CenturyLink Field box office and by calling 1-800-745-3000. The game starts at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Starfire Stadium in Tukwila.

• Fourth-round scenarios for the Open Cup were released Wednesday by U.S. Soccer and the Sounders would play at rival Portland on June 5 if both teams get through the third round.

• Crew captain Danny O'Rourke left the game in the first half on a stretcher with an apparent knee injury. He was replaced in the midfield by Kevan George, who made his MLS debut.

• Johansson suffered an apparent hamstring injury in the second half.

Joshua Mayers: 206-464-3184 or jmayers@seattletimes.com

On Twitter: @joshuamayers

CREW 2, SOUNDERS 0

Columbus 1 1 — 2
Seattle 0 0 — 0
First half — 1, Columbus, Meram 3 (Miranda, Renteria), 15th minute. Second half — 2, Columbus, Renteria 1, 76th. Goalies — Columbus, Andy Gruenebaum; Seattle, Brian Meredith. Shots — Columbus 5, Seattle 21. Shots on goal — Columbus 2, Seattle 6. Saves — Columbus 6, Seattle 0. Fouls — Columbus 13, Seattle 10. Corner kicks — Columbus 1, Seattle 12. Offsides — Columbus 3, Seattle 2. Yellow Cards — Duka, Columbus, 47th; Mendes, Columbus, 71st; Burch, Seattle, 85th; Alonso, Seattle, 88th. Referee — Geoff Gamble. Assistant Referees — Kevin Duliba. Jeff Hosking. 4th Official — Alejandro Mariscal. A — 38,311 (32,400)

Lineups

Columbus — Andy Gruenebaum, Josh Williams, Danny O'Rourke (Kevan George, 44th), Carlos Mendes, Sebastian Miranda, Nemanja Vukovic, Eddie Gaven, Dilly Duka (Tony Tchani, 57th), Cole Grossman, Emilio Renteria, Justin Meram (Bernardo Anor, 80th).

Seattle — Brian Meredith, Jeff Parke, Marc Burch, Adam Johansson (Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, 61st), Zach Scott, Alvaro Fernandez (Mauro Rosales, 61st), Brad Evans, Osvaldo Alonso, Eddie Johnson, David Estrada (Andy Rose, 78th), Fredy Montero.

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