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Behind Enemy Lines: Scouting Columbus Crew 🔎
The Crew bring their high-scoring attack to Frisco.
FC Dallas returns home this weekend as they begin a two-game set against Eastern Conference opponents when they host the Columbus Crew on Saturday.
Columbus is coming off a 3-0 win on Wednesday night against the Chicago Fire that helped them punch their ticket into the MLS Cup Playoffs.
This will be the first meeting between the two clubs since the COVID-shortened 2020 season when they tied 2-2 at Toyota Stadium.
Let’s dive into how FC Dallas earn three more points on Saturday against the Crew.
Key Player: Diego Rossi
For the second game in a row, FC Dallas will square off against a former LAFC Designated Player. Rossi has been excellent in his return to MLS from Turkey as he’s scored twice and added two assists since debuting with the Ohio side.
Key Matchup: Cucho Hernandez vs Dallas center backs
The other Crew DP scored a hat trick on Wednesday night for the Crew in just under 23 minutes. Even if you slow down Rossi, Hernandez has been a force since joining the Crew. The Dallas defense will need to keep him on lockdown and limit the space he is able to have in the penalty box.
Recent history in Frisco: The Crew have lost only one of their last six visits to Dallas (W1 D4), though the last three meetings have all ended in draws. The Crew's lone win in that time, a 4-2 victory in September 2013, is their last win in Texas (D6 L5 since).
Struggles against Western teams: The Crew are winless in their last 25 away matches against Western Conference opponents (D15 L10) dating back to a 1-0 win at Minnesota in July 2017. It's been nearly a decade since the Crew's last win in Texas, a 4-2 win at Dallas on September 29, 2013.
Where they’re at in the standings: The Crew punched their ticket back into the MLS Cup Playoffs on Wednesday. They’re currently in a three-way tie on 48 points with Philadelphia and New England for third place in the Eastern Conference.
Scoring in numbers: The Crew lead MLS in scoring this season with 60 goals, thanks to 13 from Hernandez. About half of their goals come from within the six-yard box too.
Out: Will Sands (knee)
International duty: none
Wilfred Nancy has put together arguable one of the more entertaining teams in MLS this season with this kind of lineup:
Patrick Schulte; Steven Moreira, Rudy Camacho, Malte Amundsen; Julian Gressel, Darlington Nagbe, Aidan Morris, Yaw Yeboah; Alex Matan, Diego Rossi; Cucho Hernandez
Keys To Three Points over Columbus
Keep pushing in transition - The one thing that has really worked in recent weeks, both home and away for FC Dallas has been their quick transition or counter attack play. When FC Dallas is able to get out into space with pace thanks to Jader Obrian or Paul Arriola, they’ve been very good at getting decent chances. On Wednesday in Utah, they made the most of their chances and were rewarded with three goals in the process. They need more of that kind of play and finishing at home.
Defend in numbers - Columbus leads the league in scoring, while FC Dallas is near the top in terms of defending. So this will be an interesting battle of wills on Saturday. As long as Dallas defenders aren’t giving up cheap give aways in their defensive end, and force Columbus to chase the game a bit, it will go a long way in setting the tone and pace of this game.
Sparks off the bench - The Dallas bench has been a tad spark-less in recent games for Nico Estevez but being at home, in front of a potential sellout crowd could help boost things up a bit. Eugene Ansah or Jesus Jimenez need to provide more from the bench when they come into the attack. I also see guys like Dante Sealy or Tsiki Ntsabeleng being an annoyance off the bench with their speed for a tired opposing team too.