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Sounders ride wave, face Columbus today

SEATTLE -- After back-to-back triumphs at FC Dallas and Monterrey, Mexico, Sounders FC's confidence might be at an all-time high.

Saturday's breakthrough win in Texas gave Seattle the second-best record in the league.

Tuesday's monumental victory marked only the second time an MLS team has won in Mexico.

"It worked out all right," said a smiling coach Sigi Schmid.

But don't expect that pristine form to be a distraction. While on a near-flawless run, the Sounders are still plenty motivated to continue their surge up the standings in a 1 p.m. home game Saturday against the Columbus Crew at CenturyLink Field.

"We're done patting ourselves on the back," said defender James Riley. "We have a fantastic Columbus team coming in. They're leading the East right now and we're going to have to play very well against them."

Or keep playing very well.

The Sounders have won three straight games and are 5-0-1 in their past six in all competitions. In MLS, Seattle has gone 8-1-4 since the end of May.

Recently, the main driver to that success is defense.

Comeback wins were all the rage in June and July, but in August it's been about clamping down opposing offenses. Sounders FC has shut out its past two league foes and has conceded just two goals in the past six games overall.

"We're just concentrating a little bit better," said goalkeeper Kasey Keller, who has eight shutouts this season, of the defensive resurgence.

Riley credited improved effort and focus.

Added Schmid: "It takes good goalkeeping, it takes a good back four, but the whole team has had a good mentality about it. ... We knew that the further and deeper we wanted to go into the season, defending well was important. I think the team sort of responded to that."

The team has also been finding ways to win. Against Dallas and Monterrey, the Sounders were outshot by a combined 42-15 but still managed to steal 1-0 victories against the run of play.

Schmid said that resilience is evidence of the team's growth.

"With the players winning those games," he said, "now their confidence is good and they know that, 'Hey, we can be in a game, it can be 1-nothing and we can hold on. We can be down in a game, that doesn't mean it's over. We can come back and win it.' So I think they are very confident in their ability to win in different ways."

Ochoa added through allocation

Sounders FC acquired 24-year-old forward Sammy Ochoa through the allocation process Friday. Seattle had to trade its third-round pick in the 2012 MLS SuperDraft to Chicago in order to move up in the allocation order.

Ochoa played for Schmid with the U.S. under-20 national team in 2005 and had a successful tryout with the Sounders earlier this summer. He scored Seattle's lone goal in a 1-0 Reserve League win against the Los Angeles Galaxy on June 13.

"We're happy to have Sammy join our team because it gives us a little more depth at forward," said Schmid, who called Ochoa a good "back-to-goal player" and a "good finisher around the box."

Ochoa previously played five years for Estudiantes Tecos in Mexico and is expected to arrive Sunday.

Notes: Seattle will host the U.S. Open Cup final Oct. 4 at CenturyLink Field, provided the two-time champion Sounders beat FC Dallas in Tuesday's 7 p.m. semifinal at Starfire Stadium in Tukwila.

Goalkeeper Terry Boss has been called in by the Puerto Rican national team for two FIFA World Cup qualifiers. The 29-year-old, who has six international appearances, will miss Tuesday's Open Cup match to play on the road against St. Kitts and Nevis on Sept. 2 and at home versus Canada on Sept. 6.

Defender Patrick Ianni is questionable today with a hamstring injury.

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