The Columbus Crew insist their inability to beat the Seattle Sounders has nothing to do with losing coach Sigi Schmid to the club in the Pacific Northwest.

Schmid's Sounders have never lost to the Crew in six previous meetings heading into Saturday's matchup of surging teams at CenturyLink Field.

Columbus (11-7-7) won the 2008 MLS Cup under Schmid, who took over Seattle (12-5-9) the next year. The Sounders have three wins and three draws in six meetings in all competitions with the Crew, including a 1-all draw May 7 at Columbus.

Robert Warzycha was Schmid's assistant at Columbus, and has taken over as head coach.

"You can count on one hand the number of players who played for Sigi," midfielder Danny O'Rourke told the Crew's official website. "It's Robert's team now. Sigi's in Seattle. We don't even think anything of that."

Columbus leads the Eastern Conference with 40 points while Seattle's 45 are the second-most in MLS behind West-leading Los Angeles. The Crew are 4-0-1 in their last five games, and the Sounders are 4-1-1 in their last six in MLS play.

Seattle returns home with plenty of confidence after a 1-0 victory Tuesday at Mexican powerhouse Monterrey in the CONCACAF Champions League. It marked just the second time an MLS team had won in Mexico.

"We think Monterrey is the best team in Mexico, even though they are not in first place right now," Schmid told the Sounders' official website. "To come into Monterrey and win gives our team confidence as we go into games in the future."

Backup goalie Terry Boss recorded the shutout as Seattle withstood a second-half charge by the home team after Alvaro Fernandez scored in the 38th minute.

"Bottom line - that's what championship teams are made of," midfielder Brad Evans said. "You win when it's tough. You win when it's easy. You win when you're not supposed to. It's momentum. It's the confidence we have in each other no matter who steps on the field."

Boss was in goal after Kasey Keller shined last Saturday in a 1-0 victory at FC Dallas. Seattle was outshot 24-9, but Keller came through with his second straight clean sheet and eighth of the season.

Keller could be tested by a Columbus attack that has produced five goals in consecutive victories. Emilio Renteria and Andres Mendoza scored last Saturday in a 2-1 win over Philadelphia.

The Crew, however, have been shut out six times on the road and have eight goals in 12 away matches.

"It's not that we aren't getting the chances," Warzycha said. "If we put a few away, we'd probably score first and put some pressure on the team playing at home."

Julius James is suspended due to yellow card accumulation, but the Crew insist they will be fine without one of their top defenders.

"It's going to be tough without Julius," defender Chad Marshall said. "He's been huge for us. But that being said, we have a very deep team and guys who can play for him."