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Three things to watch for tonight against the Columbus Crew SC

Columbus has struggled but it won't make tonight's game any easier.

MLS: FC Dallas at Columbus Crew SC Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

FC Dallas looks to continue their perfect home start to the 2016 season as they host the defending Eastern Conference Champion Columbus Crew looking for their first win of the season. Columbus has had two weeks to prepare for Dallas, so this won’t be easy. Here are things you should be looking for in this inter-conference matchup.

Continuing Back Four Chemistry

With multiple players coming back to the squad from the international break, it is likely Oscar Pareja will insert Maynor Figueroa in his natural position as well as Walker Zimmerman to offset Matt Hedges and Ryan Hollingshead. Sans the Houston game, the back four for FC Dallas has been performing very well and everyone seems to be on the same page, no matter who is starting. This defensive chemistry will be essential to keeping their home shutout streak alive and getting away with three points. Columbus is a team that once prided itself on scoring a lot of goals and sending most of their men forward. If that trend is to continue, Paraja will want to start his best defensive lineup so that Fabian Castillo can roam free and capitalize on the inevitable counter attack.

Will Columbus Make a Tactical Change?

The Crew like to push all of their players forward, playing with space and controlling possession. Considering the FC Dallas speed, does Columbus re-think this strategy? Both teams will be fighting for possession to start the game, but if Columbus continues with the status quo this creates an easy opportunity for FC Dallas to break this game wide-open early.

This could also be a game where Papi could sub earlier than normal if things aren’t going right. Any lapse in form or concentration could result in utilizing our tremendous depth. I would love to see Tesho come in before the 75’ if FC Dallas hasn’t controlled the game by then.

If FC Dallas has trouble gaining possession and allow Columbus to get into a good groove offensively, this has the potential to be a letdown game for the home side. Expect a playoff-like intensity from the Crew come Saturday. FC Dallas must match this from the opening kick and strike early.

The possible return of the Columbus offense

It should only be a matter of time before Columbus gets their offense together. Columbus has started the year off scoring only two goals in the first three games, a far cry from being second in the league in scoring last season.

Columbus has a front four that rivals our very own except with much more experience, and one cannot expect the offensive ineptitude to continue. There are a lot of moving parts to this matchup, but most intriguing to me is a good Crew team hungry for their first win against a spectacular home team appearing to be building momentum. I feel like the veteran presence that Columbus has will turn this game into a tough, gritty, battle. A classic game in the trenches, and yet another test for the young FC Dallas squad.