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Behind Enemy Lines: Scouting Columbus Crew SC

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The Crew have struggled early on this season, so what will they bring to the table tomorrow.

MLS: Columbus Crew at Portland Timbers Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

Last week the Hoops got a third shutout on the season as they rolled past D.C. United 3-0. Meanwhile the Crew last battled the Chicago Fire to a 0-0 draw.

Bad Look

Not just those awful jerseys, the Crew have not shown any of that team that made it to the MLS Final last season. The Crew seem to be unable to generate goals and seem just out of sorts altogether. It is difficult to say what the problem is for the Crew. They have most of the pieces from last season still, but Meram, Finlay, and Kamara just are not clicking this season.

Back to Full Strength?

FC Dallas and the Columbus Crew will have their international players back this week. The Crew saw Harrison Afful, Rodrigo Saravia, Ethan Finlay, Tony Tchani and Wil Trapp called up last week. Wil Trapp was unimpressive in the U23 game against Colombia and Finlay scored a goal against Guatemala which was called offside because Concacaf. Are the Crew mentally at full strength though? Something is not firing in Columbus right now. Maybe that Final against Portland has disheartened the Crew. Whatever the problem it will be interesting to see how they adjust this week in Frisco.

Potential Lineup

Both teams are essentially at full strength this week with no major losses for either side. The Crew line up in a 4-2-3-1.

GK: Steve Clark; RB: Harrison Afful; CB: Michael Parkhurst, Gaston Sauro; LB: Waylon Francis; CDM: Wil Trapp, Tony Tchani; CAM: Federico Higuain; RM: Ethan Finlay; LM: Justin Meram; F: Kei Kamara.

Key Matchup

Mauro Diaz vs. Wil Trapp. Mauro Diaz has had a great start to the season with a goal and four assists so far. As unimpressive as Trapp’s performance for the national team U23’s was he will need to stop Diaz if the Crew expect anything from this game. If Diaz is given time on the ball he will destroy the Crew. That midfield will have to limit how frequently he receives the ball and how long he has to make a pass, or else it will be a Diaz party.

Keys to Three Points

Set Pieces. Defending and attacking. Dallas are facing some real threats on set-pieces this weekend. That game against Houston did not inspire confidence in how Dallas defends them either. Limiting the amount of Corners and Free-kicks conceded will be important or else Kamara, Meram, and Higuain will find a way to put something in the net. Dallas also, has yet to produce much from the corner. Columbus might bunker down this game and if they do a set piece goal would be the perfect way to open the game up.

Solid Play from the Fullbacks. Meram and Finlay are two of the best wingers in the league, Behind Castillo of course. Maynor Figueroa and Ryan Hollingshead will need to really shut those two down this weekend. Kamara is deadly with those crossed balls, but much more manageable if played through the center of the park. Dallas’ defense will want to force the Crew to play through the middle where Victor Ulloa and Carlos Gruezo can help manage Higuain and Kamara.

Scoring the First Goal. I expect this game to be frustrating early on as the Crew bunker for a point, similar to Montreal a couple weeks ago. If Columbus score first they will really tighten up. Dallas needs to score first and force the Crew to chase the game. That will leave a lot of field in front of guys like Michael Barrios and Fabian Castillo. Last season’s game against Crew is a great example. That first goal off the set piece made the Crew press higher up the field and Dallas grabbed two more goals on the counter.

Prediction

The Crew are struggling and coming to Dallas will be a tough place to find their form. With the way Dallas is clicking right now I expect more of the same from both teams. Dallas nab an early goal and throw the Crew’s plans out the window. The counter attack then proves deadly. Tdismuke will think I’m crazy.

My Prediction: 4-0 FC Dallas.