Those slim playoff hopes require wins from here on out. That means continuing the dominance Crew SC showed over the Fire a week and a half ago. With three games left, Columbus has to get nine points and hope for the Montreal Impact, Philadelphia Union, or D.C. United to trip up. It’s the all but impossible task.
Crew SC may have to play without Harrison Afful. He was lifted from the game with a reported injury during Tuesday’s appearance with Ghana, but Gregg Berhalter confirmed that he ready to play and could still feature in the game. It may be too much of a task for Afful who would be playing a match after playing in a qualifier over 4000 miles away and a little over 48 hours ago. Though the team will be boosted as Justin Meram is back at training and appears fully healthy after his groin injury scare.
Federico Higuain hasn’t been practicing. The playmaker has been sidelined with another muscle injury and time is running out for him to return in 2016. Dilly Duka played very well against the soft Fire defense and likely will be tasked with stepping up and leading the Crew SC offense again.
As far as the gameplan, it’s more of the same for Columbus. The Fire looked to give up after an inert first half. If Columbus plays quickly, then Chicago doesn’t have the team defensive speed to recover. While Ethan Finlay struggled to make an impact with Duka and Afful often popping up in his space, with the possibility that the Ghanaian winger being out, that means that Finlay might be able to use his speed much like he did in Orlando.
The key is being vertical, it’s something that Crew SC struggled with earlier this year, but have used to great effect in the last month. If Columbus is able to get time on the ball (they should), they should look up field even if the next pass isn't high percentage. The payoff against a Fire team struggling on defense would be significant.
Keys to the Match
Rotation: Unlike last game, the legs will be fresh, but the next game is in New York on Sunday. The quick turnaround and flights will tax the players. Crew SC needs a win, but Berhalter must be judicious about his players. Look for a few odd lineup choices.
Quick start: Crew SC came out quickly at home and never looked back. Bridgeview has been a house of horrors for Columbus and it’s even more important not to fall behind. When Crew SC get stretched looking for a goal, the back line opens up. A first goal keeps Columbus on the front foot.
All about David: The Fire have struggled monumentally on offense and if David Accam can be neutralized, they struggle more. Afful was instrumental in stifling the speedy winger, if he can play, the task will fall to Hector Jimenez. He will have to limit Accam’s ability to pull the defense out of shape.
How to Watch
Date/Time: October 13th, 2016 at 8:30 p.m. ET
Venue: Toyota Park, Bridgeview, Illinois
Television: MyTV Columbus, TWC SportsChannel
MyTV Columbus Channel Guide: Antenna (over the air) - 6.2, Time Warner: 990, DirecTV: 207, WOW: 141, AT&T Antenna (over the air) - 6.2, Dish: Antenna (over the air) - 6.2
Online: MLS Live
Radio: CD 102.5 (English), La Mega 103.1 (Spanish)