The Columbus Crew and FC Dallas will be playing in honor of Lamar Hunt tonight (7:30 pm) in what is the only game between the two teams in 2012. The winner will receive the Pioneer Cup trophy.
Columbus is struggling at this time in the season. They are currently in the middle of a five game loosing streak. Their last victory was almost a month and a half ago. The Crew are 2-4-2 (8 points) and tied for fourth to last in the league. They tied 0-0 in Portland last Saturday.
Dallas has already played three more games than Columbus. They're sitting in sixth place in the Western Conference with a record of 3-5-3 (12 points). Dallas have been struggling as of late, as they're also on a five game loosing streak. Additionally, they will be suffering from fatigue. Saturday's game is their third this week alone. They lost last Sunday at home to Colorado, 2-0, and they lost on Wednesday at home to Seattle, 2-0.
Prediction and more after the jump...The Crew's injury report is almost as long as this preview. There are eleven players currently listed, plus Kirk Urso. However, one of them, Danny O'Rourke, is still very likely to play and wear the captain's armband.
Once again, the biggest question for Columbus and Coach Robert Warzycha is who to start at forward. While not producing or even looking impressive in 2012, Emilio Renteria will still likely start. However, his partner could be rookie Ethan Finlay (who started last game), Justin Meram, Bernardo Anor, or even Eddie Gaven or Milovan Mirosevic.
Columbus' defense will almost certainly remain intact from the one that played last week. The midfield could have a change or two, depending on who starts up top with Renteria.
Dallas' two main threats consist of Panamanian forward Blas Perez and winger Brek Shea. Perez is Dallas' most dangerous man in attack. He has three goals and three assists on the season. Shea, a U.S. international, also has three goals this year. However, he may not start as he has been suffering from a turf toe injury.
Prediction: Crew 1-0 Dallas
While Perez has proven himself to be one of the most dangerous players in MLS this year, and Columbus' central defense pairing of Josh Williams and Eric Gehrig has little experience, the Crew have a great chance to end their loosing streak tonight. Their quality of play has been improving for the past three weeks (even though the results don't necessarily show it), and their bad luck has to run out at some time. The Crew will win both the game and the Pioneer Cup, 1-0, on a Josh Williams goal.