For the third game this season, the Crew are hitting the road. They are heading to decrepit RFK Stadium to face D.C. United. Both teams are 1-1-1 on the year and looking to move up the Eastern Conference table. The team will get Gaven but lose Arrieta as they try and break through at the site of so many struggles.
Crew on Offense: Arrieta is away with the Costa Rican National Team and is unavailable. He has 10 goals already in his Crew career, including one this year. The Crew likely won't have as difficult a time at replacing his goalscoring prowess. They will find it hard to replace all of the other things he does for the Crew offense. Often playing as the lone striker, he's asked to wear many different hats. He's holds up the ball or making tireless runs into space as a direct outlet. There is no one on the roster that can duplicate his effectiveness.
Warzycha has a couple of options. With Gaven returning, he can shift Dominic Oduro forward and slot Gaven in on the right. The speedster, Oduro isn't known for his holdup play. The offensive plan would shift to trying to work the seams in the defense and try to break the offensive trap.
Rookie Ryan Finley plays more in the Arrieta style. He's a physical player who likes to run onto balls behind the defense. He doesn't have the same experience as Arrieta or Oduro, but would require less change up of the team's offensive plan. It would require more lineup juggling. Gaven will play, but with Finley playing, either Speas or Oduro would drop to the bench.
The return of Gaven will give the Crew a level of inventiveness to the midfield that has been missing during his injury. The offense has centered around Federico Higuain almost exclusively. Gaven adds another avenue to the ball to go through. He links well tracking back and with Higuain.
Crew on Defense: United have struggled in front of goal. They have a single goal through three games. The seemingly ageless Dewayne DeRosario still guides the offense, but has only played in one game coming off of suspension. He offers the same challenges, but from a different spot, as Chris Wondolowski. He is adept at slipping into dangerous spots. The Crew relied of Glauber and Marshall to track Wondo last week, but the midfield will have to be much more responsive. Danny O'Rourke and Agustin Viana will have to support Higuain, but keep track of DeRosario.
Chris Pontius adds further attacking savvy on the left side. He had a career high 12 goals in 2012 as he was healthy for a full season. Pontius is able to cut inside and find space, often popping up around goal. He's also adept at staying wider, but is far more dangerous when he's free to move inside. Josh Williams will need help from whoever the Crew start at right wing to keep track of the shifty Pontius.
Final Walkthrough: The Crew struggle mightily in RFK and likely will do so again without Arrieta. The defense will face an offense still trying to find its way. Both teams may have enough defense to get points in a goalless draw.
Crew 0 - D.C. United 0