Columbus has struggled against good teams. The Red Bulls are the best in the East right now. The Crew are still looking for their first win against a team with a winning record. Beating the Bulls would serve quite a statement given the team's offensive struggles and absences.
The Lineup: The list of who won't be there is long. Glauber and Jairo Arrieta are suspended. Chad Marshall, Ben Speas, and Agustin Viana are injured and won't be available. Danny O'Rourke is trying to come back from injury and is racing to get ready.
There won't be as big of shift in the lineup from last week to this week. Only Glauber was added to the unavailable list. Danny O'Rourke will start next to Gehrig if healthy. If he's unable to go, Chad Barson likely will step into the right back spot with Josh Williams moving over.
Warzycha also has a decision at left wing. Justin Meram had a terrible game against Toronto before being lifted for Ethan Finlay. Will Warzycha keep things the same or change what didn't work in the last game.
I expect to see the Andy Gruenebaum behind Wahl, O'Rourke, Gehrig, and Williams. Tchani and Sanchez will hold down the middle. Gaven will play on the left with Finlay on the right. Federico Higuain will sit underneath Oduro.
Crew on Offense: Columbus likely will look to counter the offense heavy Red Bulls. Oduro gives the Crew speed to be able to break out quickly and Federico Higuain found space against the sorry Toronto defense last week to exploit it.
Higuain has a chance to do so again this week. The Red Bulls have had Tim Cahill and Juninho in the middle of the park with Jamison Olave and Markus Holgersson in central defense. The Argentine playmaker is adept at finding the seams and can exploit the lack of defensive mettle in midfield and see more of the ball.
The team needs more offense from wide positions. Eddie Gaven has been bringing his trademark consistency, but something has been missing. He has three assists but no goals yet this year. Justin Meram and Ethan Finlay will have to add more than the combined zero goals and zero assists on the year.
The Crew's dominance on set pieces has evaporated. They have struggled off of corners and free kicks. Higuain still serves in an excellent ball, but there is a sameness to how the team executes. Columbus should investigate possibly even using short corners and other types of tricks to change the angle of attack.
Crew on Defense: Columbus will have to rely on a makeshift central defense with Glauber and Marshall out. Eric Gehrig deputized well against the punchless Canadians, but the Red Bulls are a far tougher challenge. Gehrig indeed shut down Toronto in 2012, but the following week they were blown out with Gehrig struggling mightily.
Gehrig's partner is likely to either be Josh Williams or Danny O'Rourke. O'Rourke has played extensively at the position and Williams started his career at center before moving to left back last year. Tyson Wahl will continue to hold down the left and Chad Barson can fill in anywhere along the back line, but is seen as a left or right back in the MLS level.
Matias Sanchez's recent addition to the midfield has added mobility and toughness as long as he remains in control. He was in danger of getting several cards against Colorado, but was more restrained in Toronto, adding polish on offense and ruggedness on defense.
Final Walkthrough: The Crew held the New York offense in check in Columbus, but ultimately lost 1-0 as Tim Cahill came through with the header. They will have to stop a New York team that is unbeaten in six, with five wins during that time. Theyv'e struggled on the road at Red Bull Arena and haven't beaten a winning team this year. Not changing this time.
Crew 0 - 2 NYRB