D.C. United and the Columbus Crew meet for the second time in as many weeks on Saturday night at RFK Stadium (7:30). The Crew came away with a 1-0 home win against United on July 21st.
Since then, Columbus has defeated Stoke City in a friendly match, 2-1, and left Kansas City with three points after a comeback lead by Jairo Arrieta resulted in another 2-1 victory. Columbus is 8-7-4 (28 points) on the season, good for sixth place in the Eastern Conference.
D.C. hasn't played in any league games since their duel with the Crew. They kept fit during the two week MLS break by playing a friendly against Paris Saint-Germain last Saturday. The game ended in a 1-1 draw. United are sitting in fourth place in the East with 33 points (10-7-3).
More after the jump...After taking a game to adjust to the style of play in MLS, Jairo Arrieta has had a hand in all three of the Crew's goals over the past two league games. His through ball to Chris Birchall helped the Crew defeat D.C. two weeks ago, and his first-half brace against Kansas City lead the team to a valuable road victory. While he has been the lone man up top, the trio of Eddie Gaven, Dilly Duka, and Justin Meram directly behind him has helped the Crew play more of an attacking style in recent games. Expect the same back four of Sebastian Miranda, Chad Marshall, Carlos Mendes, and Josh Williams against United.
The biggest question for Columbus is who will replace Cole Grossman in the center of midfield next to Birchall. Tony Tchani has been inconsistent at best throughout the season but has improved in recent performances. Milovan Mirosevic is close to full health. Danny O'Rourke is seemingly always injured but is almost irreplaceable when healthy.
With their last win coming over a month ago, D.C. has slipped down the table a little bit. They have a myriad of attacking options, a luxury Crew fans aren't particularly used to. Dwayne De Rosario is tied for the league lead in assists, while Chris Pontius is having a breakout season with nine goals.
Prediction: Crew 0-1 United
Although D.C. United's attack hasn't been clicking in recent weeks and Columbus boasts the league's best defense, United are too good at home and the Crew are too inconsistent this season for any road points to come from this trip.