The Crew kick off a three game home stand against D.C. United on Saturday. It's the same team they defeated 2-1 at RFK less than a month ago. Both teams fortunes have taken a turn for the worse since then as goals for each team have been hard to come by.
Crew on Offense: Federico Higuain ran wild in the space that the speedy Dominic Oduro created. Tracked by the overmatched Perry Kitchen, Higuain didn't record a goal or an assist, but it was likely his best game of the season. The Crew have been looking for that type of performance since.
Teams have double, even triple, teamed Higuain to close down the Crew attack and it's been very successful. Higuain gets his touches, but they aren't in dangerous areas. He's not able to run at goal or pick his head up and make a forward pass. D.C. is likely to provide more help to Kitchen to shackle Higuain. Much like D.C. and DeRosario, the Crew are a one man team with Higuain.
His support will need to come from all sides. Ben Speas and Eddie Gaven need to provide better movement into space in hopes of peeling off defenders. Likely starter Dominic Oduro will have to work to hold up the ball rather than leaving that duty to Higuain.
The last key will be what the Crew central midfielders try to do. Both Agustin Viana and Danny O'Rourke show little attacking impetus, but one of them will have to shoulder a more offensive posture in hopes of attracting attention and freeing Higuain.
Crew on Defense: Chris Pontius picked up an injury and didn't make the trip to Columbus. It's the latest problem to hit United's anemic offense. Second year player Nick DeLeon will also be held out and Dwayne DeRosario is still recovering from an early season injury. While the Crew have suffered a goal drought the last three games, D.C. has scored four goals all year.
D.C. United's offensive problems start with their leaders. Pontius tallied 12 goals and DeRosario added seven last year. This year they've combined for zero goals. The offense has been lead by Lionard Pajoy's two goals, but the Colombian has squandered more chances than he's buried.
Ultimately, United will only be able to go as far as DeRosario is able to guide them. Clamping down on him with a double team will force some very inexperienced or less talented pieces to step up and execute. They haven't so far this year.
Final Walkthrough: The D.C. offense doesn't have enough firepower to consistently break down a still solidifying Crew defense. Ultimatly, the result will depend on the space that Higuain gets. He gets just enough.
Crew 2 - 1 United