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Preview: Columbus Crew Hosts the Houston Dynamo

The Crew look to turn around a near lost season.

John Gress

Brian Bliss will be putting his stamp on the team for the next eight games. He's seen all of these players and there will be some shuffling.

The Lineup: Bliss will certainly shuffle the lineup. The existing group wasn't working and some changes are in the offing. Andrew King and Adam Jardy noted a few new faces with the first team. Ryan Finley, Ethan Finlay, Tyson Wahl, and Eric Gehrig got run outs with the rest of the first team in training.

Lampson; Gehrig, Williams, Marshall, Wahl; Finlay, Trapp, Anor, Meram, Finley, Oduro

Crew on Offense: It's uncertain how the Crew will play in their first game under Bliss. He appears to be shuffling the deck with two forwards and three midfielders sitting behind them. Wil Trapp will have to handle the screening duties.

Of note, Dominic Oduro appears to be headed back to the forward spot with Ethan Finlay playing wide. Finlay has 29 appearances with the Crew, but only three starts, all last year. He brings speed and a true wingers instincts to a team that has used two converted forwards out wide.

While the Crew have suffered without a true winger on the team, it has also relegated Dominic Oduro to right wing. He struggles with his positioning out wide and isn't able to use his speed as effectively as it forces him to run at people. Moving up top, he can now break past the defense.

Crew on Defense: Recent practices show a significant change on Bliss's take on the outside backs. Eric Gehrig and Tyson Wahl have been training with the first team and are in line to return to the lineup. That would mean that Agustin Viana and Chad Barson will be relegated to the bench. Both have struggled a bit, with Viana especially troubled by the Sounders attack on Saturday.

Bliss also appears to be in the camp that sees Josh Williams as a center back. Williams has had a few issues since moving back to the center, but has settled well recently with Chad Marshall. He's an athletic option who pairs well with the dominant, but less mobile, Marshall.

Final Walkthrough: Bliss and the Crew hope to get that new coach bump. It's been proven to be more of a myth, but the changes on offense and defense likely will spark a more competitive team.

Crew 1 - Houston 1