We’re finally past the biggest hurdle of the year - the Colorado Rapids got a win. So it’s all uphill from here… right? To that end, the next team we have on the calendar is the Columbus Crew. How are things shaping up as the boys in Burgundy are starting to find their form?
Columbus hasn’t had a tremendous shake-up since their moderate success last year. Arguably their biggest change was their former head coach, Gregg Berhalter, was named the new head coach of the US Men’s National Team. They brought in ex-Portland Timbers head coach Caleb Porter, who was mysteriously absent from the 2018 season. Aside from that, it is largely the same black and yellow that we fought last year.
C-Bus has not been having a terribly successful year, though. Their first six games were quite promising, with four wins, one tie, and one loss. At the time, they were considered one of the powerhouses of the Eastern Conference. Then, after a disappointing loss to Montreal Impact, they hit a five-game losing streak. This was broken by a win against LA Galaxy (who is earning a reputation as the new Slumpbusters FC after our win against them last week), but most recently, they’ve lost twice in a row (without scoring a single goal) against LAFC and Minnesota United. Currently, they are sitting a point behind Toronto for the final spot in the playoffs in the Eastern Conference with Chicago Fire nipping at their heels.
They’re pretty much guaranteed to be playing in a 4-2-3-1 formation. Zack Steffen is their starting goalkeeper, but was called up for the USMNT Gold Cup camp, so he may not appear. MLS players may be excused to play for their clubs, but if not, expect to see back-up Joe Bendik in goal. While the back four normally would include Designated Player Milton Valenzuela, he had a season-ending injury. Hector Jimenez, Gaston Sauro, Jonathan Mensah, and Josh Williams are likely to be up as the back four. Their defense isn’t doing tremendously well. With 19 goals allowed, it isn’t horrible, but fairly middle of the road. Certainly a lot better than our 30.
The midfield has USMNT quasi-captain Wil Trapp and newcomer David Guzman, reunited with his ex- Timbers coach. The front line is David Accam, Federico Higuain, and Robinho Barbosa as offensive midfielders, and USMNT striker and new Designated Player Gyasi Zardes. The big thing to know is that Columbus’ offense is, well… not exactly great. In fact, they have only scored 12 goals. Zardes has only put in four goals and has a single assist... quite a ways behind our own Kei Kamara, who’s got seven goals himself.
Overall, man, I have no clue what to expect from this game. We didn’t exactly dominate the LA Galaxy, but they were second in the Western Conference and we beat them at home. The Rapids run of form has been awful for 90% of the season, but we’re seeing hope under Conor Casey, and the players are starting to gel better with the reinforcements from the end of the primary transfer window. Columbus has been struggling and has not been doing very well on the road (they are 1-5-0 away).
I’m actually feeling sort of confident, we’ve had our first win on the road and now we need to earn three points at home. Here’s to seeing a great game this weekend!