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Columbus Crew SC Prepared For Another Talented Sporting Kansas City Midfield

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The Black & Gold are ready for a tough challenge from SKC.

On Wednesday night, Columbus Crew SC saw one of the more difficult midfields the team faced all year. Former Juventus deep-lying playmaker Andrea Pirlo, U.S. international Mix Diskerud, and the man who scored the brace Kwadwo Poku.

That doesn't mention forward David Villa, who dropped back into the midfield and showed off his passing ability often, including New York City FC's opening goal.

Three days later, the Black & Gold face another difficult challenge in the midfield with Sporting Kansas City coming to MAPFRE Stadium.

Kansas City may not have the international flair of New York City, who was missing former Chelsea star Frank Lampard on the night, but they are still one of the more talented midfields in what has been one of the more consistent teams in Major League Soccer over the last several years.

"They're a good team. We don't need to question that," Columbus head coach Gregg Berhalter said of Sporting. "They're one of the better teams in the league. For us it's going to be a tough game. They put a lot of energy into it. It's a very aggressive midfield and they want to make it difficult for you.

"I think that they've been, LA, Salt Lake, and Kansas City have been the dominant teams in the last couple of years. If you take LA out of it as the dominant one, right in that second group you have Seattle, Salt Lake, and Kansas City. So they've done a good job."

While SKC's midfield is always dangerous, the club will be without their playmaker, as Benny Feilhaber received a red car in their Wednesday night match.

"Obviously they're missing quality and they're missing production, but another guy will step up for them," Berhalter said. "They've had a number of goal scorers and they've got Nemeth and Dwyer who've been doing really well."

"They're a deep team," Crew SC winger Justin Meram said when asked about Feilhaber missing out. "You saw when they went to Toronto, they were missing a lot of key pieces and they got the win. And that's against a good Toronto team on the road. So they're missing their leader but I'm sure they'll have some good players. [Paulo Nagamura], [Graham Zusi], the rest of those guys in the middle are still great names."

The red card to Feilhaber wasn't the only bad thing that happened on Wednesday. The San Jose Earthquakes came into Sporting Park and defeated Kansas City 5-0, ending a four-game unbeaten run by SKC.

While one perspective is that it's a perfected time to pounce on Sporting, it could also bring out the angry beast.

"That might have made them hungrier," Meram said. "Maybe make some adjustments that they need. You can never take a team like that lightly."

After the midweek 2-2 draw with Kansas City, Columbus is looking to get back into the win column after two straight draws at home.

"It's one game at a time and home games are important," Berhalter explained. "We pride ourselves on our home record and it's time to get a win."

With a potential sellout at MAPFRE Stadium, the Crew SC players are excited to get a result in front of their home fans. Extra motivation may not be necessary going against a team the Black & Gold have not defeated in five meetings.

After both teams suffered disappointing performances on Wednesday, each side wants a positive result in this contest as they enter the final stretch before the MLS Cup Playoffs.