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Crossing the Touchline: Talking Columbus Crew SC at D.C. United with Ben Bromley of Black and Red United

Our Pat Murphy talks with Black and Red United's Ben Bromley to preview this weekend's matchup.

Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

It's been over four months since Columbus Crew SC last saw D.C. United.

Since then, United looked like the team to beat in the East for most of the summer, while Columbus attempted to figure out defensive issues over that time.

Now, D.C. has fallen from the top of the Eastern Conference with a poor run of form and the Black & Gold are making a push for the top spot. The winner in this game, if there is one, will certainly make a statement with only five games remaining for each club.

United currently sits in third place in the East, tied with second place New York Red Bulls and one point ahead of Crew SC. They are led by midfielder Chris Rolfe who has nine goals and four assists on the season. Striker Fabian Espindola leads the team in assists with six and also has added three goals.

Bill Hamid leads the defense from the goal, having made 81 saves this year and recording seven shutouts.

RFK has not been a friendly place to Columbus fans over the years, but that doesn't mean Ben wasn't kind enough to answer some questions about the club he covers.

Questions for Black and Red United

Massive Report: It hasn't been a good last four matches for United. No wins over that stretch and three losses have seen D.C. drop out of first place in the Eastern Conference. What's to blame for the negative turnaround in the nation's capital this last month?

Black and Red United: One of the main problems has been on the defense, where for some reason the defense has been giving up an absurd number of early goals. When you do that, and then have as moribund of an offense as United has had, that is going to lead to a string of bad results. A lot of it comes down to the fact that the two best players on the team, Bill Hamid and Fabian Espindola, were out injured for much of August and September; both are now back. Hamid played well in the last game against Colorado, while Espindola struggled. However, we have to expect that he's going to get back to his scoring ways soon.

MR: From Chris Rolfe to Fabian Espindola to former Crew SC favorite Jairo Arrieta, to name a few, there are a lot of attacking options for Ben Olsen, yet United have only scored 36 goals this season. Does this seem right? Should there be more production on the attack and if so, where is the spark?

B&RU: Fabian Espindola was suspended at the beginning of the year for shoving a ref at the end of last year, and then has been out with injuries for two different stretches this season. His creative spark is what has made United go this year and last, and without him United either won games mostly by excellent defense and some lucky poaching (at least at the beginning of the season). With Bill Hamid injured at points this year, and with the back line giving up surprising goals, that lead to losses.

Perry Kitchen was also a spark through midfield last year, and over the course of the past month United's midfield has just been overrun. Hopefully with Finland international Markus Halsti now in the starting lineup, United's central midfield can start clicking again, which will help the offense too.

MR: These two teams play twice over the final five games of the regular season. From the D.C. perspective, how important is it to get maximum points against Columbus, a team that is right behind them in the standings?

B&RU: These games are very important. I don't think either team is at much risk of falling out of the top four, but United wants a first round home game and would really want to challenge back for the top of the Eastern Conference. United only have five league games left, and they're all against the Eastern Conference, so getting maximum points, especially at home, is a requirement.

Check back for Massive Report's answers to Black and Red United's questions.