In his weekly column on MLSsoccer.com, Armchair Analyst Matthew Doyle was asked in the comments for his prettiest and ugliest teams to watch in Major League Soccer. His response is rather interesting.
Doyle is not the first, nor will he be the last, to comment on how attractive Columbus Crew SC's style of play is since Gregg Berhalter took over as head coach last year. The Black and Gold get numbers forward and keep the ball, working it around and prodding a defense. With the addition of forward Kei Kamara this year, the Crew SC offense is interchanging positions and flowing and it is a joy to behold, when it works.
The San Jose Earthquakes are in the first year of Dominic Kinnear's second stint as head coach of the club. Kinnear is working with what remains of the team that finished at the bottom of the Western Conference a year ago, with only six wins. Last year's Earthquakes team struggled to find a consistent style, resorting to some late-game heroics, typically by Chris Wondolowski to get results.
The Earthquakes welcome Crew SC to Avaya Stadium Saturday night, in what Doyle may call the Pretty v. Ugly match.
Columbus has found success at home this season, where the team's style has been able to flourish, but have struggled to get the same results on the road. The Black and Gold preach the need to play the same style home or away, but it has not yet led to a road win this season. They hope to change that on Saturday night.
San Jose meanwhile will likely stick with their "ugly" style as Kinnear attempts to right the ship. The Earthquakes sit in fourth place in the West with four wins already on the year, two-third of the way to last year's total. So far, the "ugly" style is working just as well as the "pretty" play of the Black and Gold, as the two teams both sit on 14 points - although Crew SC has a game in hand.
So when you sit down to watch Saturday night's game, think about the contrasting styles. Can San Jose muck the game up enough to send Crew SC back to Columbus without three points once again, or will the Black and Gold's attractive style of play finally result in a win on the road?
There's only one way to find out.