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Pregame Preview: Columbus Crew at Chivas USA

The Crew open the MLS Regular Season in Los Angeles against Chivas USA.

Chivas USA (0-0-0, 0 points) vs. Columbus Crew (0-0-0, 0 points)
Saturday, March 2nd - 10:30 p.m. (ET) - HomeDepot Center
Television: Fox Sports Ohio; MLSLive
Radio: 610 WTVN (English); La Mega 103.1 (Spanish)
The team opens the 18th MLS season on the road against the team with perhaps the worst, certainly the most confusing offseason, Chivas USA. The Crew have brought in defensive reinforcements to solidify a late season defensive slide that soured chances to make the playoffs. Chivas brought in Mexican coach José Luis Sánchez Solá, known as Chelis, to oversee the re-Latinification of the roster.

The turnover that the Crew undertook was light compaired to the Goats. The team parted ways with Juan Pablo Ángel, Alejandro Moreno, Paolo Cardozo, Ryan Smith, John Valencia, Cesar Romero, and Danny Califf. They also traded Nick LaBrocca, Casey Townsend, Shalrie Joseph, Ben Zemanski, and James Riley. Twelve players in all are no longer part of the Hispanic Heritage vision of owner Jorge Vergara.

With this amount of turnover, there is little familiar about this season's Chivas team. Juan Agudelo is shouldering the attacking load of the of Chelis' 3-5-2. At 20 years old, Agudelo scored three goals since coming over from New York via trade. Behind him, the five midfielders lead by Rapids castoff Eric Avila and second year Miller Bolaños will look to posess the ball.

The team is thin on the defensive side of the scale. Oswaldo Minda is the only defensive midfielder of note on the roster and will be charged with shield the three man defense. Marvin Iraheta and rookie Carlos Alvarez are the other options in the center.

The three man back line will be tested as it's tall, but not especially fast. Steve Purdy, Bobby Burling, and the 37 year old Wálter Vílchez are expected to cover a lot of ground behind the midfield focused on posession.

The Crew will have to look to bypass the packed midfield. Federico Higuain will struggle to find space as Chivas will try to have numerical advantage. Eddie Gaven, Dominic Oduro, and Jairo Arrieta will have chances to find the edges of the back line. That means dropping deeper into the seams to make it three v. one or pushing higher and making it three v. three.

The central defense will have thier hands full with two strikers facing them. The outside backs may be able to pinch in, but Josh Williams and Tyson Wahl will likely get locked into one v. one battles on the perifery of the Chivas attack.

Again, the key will be the defensive midfield. Agustin Viana and his partner, either Matias Sanchez and Danny O'Rourke will be tasked with helping out the central defense, pushing wide to double the wings, or giving Higuain time to work. So much of the Crew success will depend on how well they do their job.

Both teams are similar in a lot of ways, there are quite a few new faces on both benches and it's how well they start to work together that will likely decide the game.

Crew 1 - Chivas USA 1