Old enemies meet again for the first time in the 2012 MLS season on Saturday (7:30) when the Columbus Crew renew their rivalry with D.C. United.
Columbus lost at home to Sporting Kansas City last Saturday, 2-0, dropping their record to 6-7-4 (22 points). A new-look defense didn't work for the Crew. Bernardo Anor tore his ACL in his first ever start at left-back and will be out for the remainder of the season.
DC's last game was a disaster from start to finish. Starting goalie Bill Hamid picked up a straight red card in the 17th minute (rendering him unavailable to play against Columbus), as the Houston Dynamo went on to win, 4-0. Even with the loss, DC remains in third place in the East with 33 points (10-6-3).
More after the jump...Due to Emilio Renteria's one-game suspension for a headbutt last week, Robert Warzycha will be forced to start a new pair at forward. Newest addition Jairo Arrieta and Justin Meram are who most fans want to see. Arrieta made his Crew debut against Kansas City, and Meram has been playing on the left wing for the majority of the year. Although both are a little undersized, Meram has great leaping ability, as evidenced by his goal in Seattle earlier in the year and the header he banged off the crossbar last week.
In midfield, Eddie Gaven is almost guaranteed to start on one of the wings. Chris Birchall had a solid performance in the center of the field against Kansas City. Dilly Duka is extremely dangerous no matter where he is on the field, but he might not be fit enough to start. Tony Tchani has started the past few games in an attacking midfielder spot but was subbed out early in the last game.
DC has a myriad of attacking players. They are fourth in the league in goals scored with 34. Leading the way is forward/midfielder Chris Pontius with nine. Dwyane De Rosario, MLS MVP in 2011, is leading the league in assists with 10. Forwards Maicon Santos and Hamdi Salihi have seven and five goals respectively. Wingers Nick DeLeon and Danny Cruz are dangerous. Attacking midfielder Branko Boskovic could also make an appearance.
Second-year player Perry Kitchen holds down the defensive midfielder spot for DC. Right-back Robbie Russell went down with an injury against Houston, so Ohio native Chris Korb is scheduled to start. Head coach Ben Olsen has a much different problem with his attacking lineup than Warzycha does; DC has too many options, while the Crew have next to nothing.
Prediction: Crew 0-2 United
Columbus' constantly changing lineup will continue to hurt the team, resulting in a bad home loss against one of the league's most dangerous attacks.