With a new attacking-minded formation, the Crew stopped their two-game losing streak with a 1-0 home win on Saturday night against a D.C. United side that was lacking in offensive creativity.
Columbus lined up in a 4-2-3-1. Sebastian Miranda was back in his regular spot at right-back. Chad Marshall and Carlos Mendes teamed up in the middle of defense while Josh Williams moved out to the left side. Cole Grossman and Chris Birchall played holding midfielder roles. In front of them, Dilly Duka, Eddie Gaven, and Justin Meram were left to roam anywhere in the attacking third. Jairo Arrieta started up top as the lone forward. DC lined up in a diamond 4-4-2 formation.
The Crew's four attackers allowed them to play on the ground through the midfield more than normal. The team also pressed farther up the field to greater success.
Much more after the jump...
Dilly Duka, finally fit and healthy enough to start, was easily the most dangerous player for the majority of the game. In the 14th minute, he dribbled through the United defense before drilling a low cross across the face of goal. Three Crew players were in the box, but none were able to get on the end of it. Duka continued his attacking quest in the 36th minute with a left-footed shot through traffic that bounced right in front of United goalie Joe Willis, who saved rather comfortably.
Josh Williams, although a defender, has proven himself to be one of Columbus' most dangerous attackers, primarily from set-ball situations. In the 44th minute, Justin Meram sent a free kick toward the far post where Williams rose up and headed the ball into the corner of the net. Williams, always the unfortunate, had his goal called back for the slightest hint of being offside.
Right before the half, Crew goalie Andy Gruenebaum had to make a backtracking save after Chris Pontius headed the loose ball toward goal after a corner. Gruenebaum was able to catch the ball and managed to keep it from crossing the line.
The attacking end to the first half carried over after the break. In the 46th minute, Columbus took the lead. Jairo Arrieta held up the ball before slotting a great through ball to Chris Birchall as he made a long run from his defensive midfield position. Birchall, clear in on goal, took one touch and hit a low shot with his left foot, beating Willis on the near post side.
Just minutes later, Dwayne De Rosario put the ball in the back of the net after a deflected United shot landed at his feet. However, De Rosario was in an offside position when his teammate's shot fell to him. DC and De Rosario felt like they had a legitimate argument, as it is always a difficult call for the referee when a shot is deflected by the defense to an offside player.
Columbus had their own opportunity to score from a deflected shot in the 73rd minute, but Arrieta wasn't able to finish right in front of the net, skewing the ball wide.
DC made a late push for an equalizing goal, but bad finishing, the left post, and a few Andy Gruenebaum saves kept the scoreline in the Crew's favor, 1-0.