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Game Day 16: Columbus Crew v. Chicago Fire

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The Crew have a chance to move into playoff position today. The Fire are starting to get on a roll with the new acquisition Mike Magee.

USA TODAY Sports

The Fire have been the Crew's bogey team. They've played twice and Columbus has lost twice and looked poor in the process. This time the game is at Crew Stadium and The home side is coming off an impressive win against the conference leading Montreal Impact. They have a little momentum

The Lineup: Robert Warzycha has Jairo Arrieta back and Agustin Viana likely is ready for a spot on the subs bench, but he'll probably keep the lineup unchanged after a great performance last week.

Gruenebaum; Barson, Williams, Marshall, Wahl; O'Rourke, Sanchez; Anor, Higuain, Speas; Oduro

Crew on Offense: Warzycha talked about keeping Federico Higuain central and he did for the most part. Bernardo Anor and Ben Speas lined up as inverted wingers and both looked to cut in centrally. This is ideal for the Crew as Speas and, to a lesser extent, Anor are poor crossers of the ball. Columbus doesn't line up with a strong hold up forward so there isn't a traditional target.

The Crew does get some width from the fullbacks, but more often they just play narrow and use the movement of the withdrawn three attackers to create mismatches with the defense.

This setup strives on creative movement and they now have the missing piece in central midfield. Paired with Danny O'Rourke, Matias Sanchez has the freedom to spring into the attack. Columbus now has the ability to add a surprise attacker to the mix with late runs.

Crew on Defense: Chicago has struggled on offense, but acquiring Mike Magee changed that. He's a finisher having a career year. He can spring into the box at the right time and make the defense pay. Josh Williams is mobile enough to track the savvy Magee.

Magee is freeing up the other Fire attackers. Chris Rolfe and Patrick Nyarko are capable scorers but have struggled this year. Nyarko abused Tyson Wahl during the April league game. The Fire will test him again.

Final Walkthrough: As the always in the know Larry Johnson noted, these teams don't like to win consecutive games. It's been 19 games for the Fire and 23 for the Crew. That changes tonight as both sides are looking to get into the playoff spots and starting to heat up. The Crew break through.

Chicago 1 - Crew 2