Game Day 3: Columbus Crew v. San Jose Earthquakes Preview

USA TODAY Sports

The Crew can move to 2-1-0 against the injury stricken Quakes.

It's finally here, the home opener. It's been 139 days since the Crew last stepped foot on home field with thousands in the stands and the Nordecke in full voice. Black and Gold Week is coming to a close with Crew Union's Crewsmas Eve Party the last hurrah of a long offseason. The weather that had threatened all week will be chilly but dry.

On the field, the Black and Gold will be trying to get back to winning ways. The game in Vancouver was a setback as the offense looked dangerous, but the defense struggled with the Whitecap attack. They'll be charged with shackling the league's top scoring offence in 2012.

Crew on Offense: The offense has looked sharp with Federico Higuain looking in midseason form. Higuain, Jiaro Arrieta and Dominic Oduro already have goals in 2013 from the run of play. They looked composed and rarely flustered even with the balance of the game on their collective shoulders.

One lineup question remains, the team will have to wait and see if Eddie Gaven or Ben Speas will start on the left side. Gaven looked in fine form against Chivas, but Speas impressed in Vancouver. Whoever it is will have a real chance to change the game against the Quakes backup right back.

Ty Harden is expected to play right back in place of Steven Beitashour , as San Jose suffers through an early season injury crisis that has hit the backline. This weakens the back and gives the Crew a chance to attack on the left side. This will be a chance for whoever starts at left wing.

Crew on Defense: San Jose's offense was lethal last year with Chris Wondolowski scoring 27 goals. Alan Gordon added 13 with Steven Lenhart chipping in 10 and Simon Dawkins scoring 8. Wondo is the only player expected in the lineup. Gordon and Lenhart have injuries and Dawkins wasn't loaned back to the Quakes.

With so many absenses, San Jose has had to turn to the well traveled Michael Fucito and rookier Adam Jahn. Wondolowski is still getting into dangerous spots, but hasn't finished as well as last year, scoring a single (penalty kick) goal on nine shots. Chad Marshall and Glauber will have to closely watch his movements as he can easily get hot and start scoring with ease.

Final Walkthrough: San Jose are a significantly weaker team without their offensive role players. Wondolowski scored 27 goals last year, but he wasn't a one man show. If Columbus can limit his chances, Higuain and company have shown they can create chances and often finish them.

Crew 2 - San Jose 1

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