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Staff Predictions: Columbus Crew SC at the Portland Timbers

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One team will win, one team will lose, or maybe it will be all even. Let's see what our staff thinks of Sunday's season opening match.

Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

On Sunday afternoon (4:30 p.m. EST, ESPN), Columbus Crew SC takes to the field in a meaningful match for the first time in 2016. After finishing in second place in the Eastern Conference during the regular season, the Black & Gold mad a remarkable run to the MLS Cup Final where the side lost 2-1 to the Portland Timbers.

Three months later and Crew SC is back on the field, taking the Timbers yet again.

While both sides are closely intact, there are some changes that a new year always brings. While the memories of the loss in the Final remain fresh in the minds of the Columbus players, they know that no result on Sunday can change what happened in December. The focus is on starting anew this year, and that means a good performance in Portland.

This year, Massive Report will be doing staff predictions for each week's game. Here are how our lovely band of soccer writers think this contest with play out.

Sam Fahmi

I called for 2-1 loss on the podcast and I'm sticking with it. There will be a celebration of the Cup. The place will be rocking for Portland and they will play with some swagger. Looking at Crew SC's preseason form, I don't trust that back line yet.
Portland Timbers 2  Columbus Crew SC 1

Josh Mlot

It's hard to come into the season with guns blazing, so I expect there might be some rustiness for both sides, even without tons of personnel change. I know there will be a championship celebration for Portland, but oftentimes that can work against a team -€” there's so much energy and emotion and distraction from it, that there's a bit of a hangover when the actual game kicks off. I expect this to be an exciting game with chances, but the final polish may not be there for either team just yet.
Columbus Crew SC 1  Portland Timbers 1

Matt Weisgarber

The backline will have the same problems it always has but Steve Clark will come up with a few big saves. Portland will have a Cup celebration hang over and not be able to cope with Crew SC's attack.
Columbus Crew SC 2  Portland Timbers 1

Patrick Murphy

Fun fact: The Timbers have never won an MLS regular season game in the month of March. If my calendar is correct, it's March 6. While this is a new team with a new trophy and such, this stat speaks to the slow starts Portland has had over the years. With the celebrations going on an expectations at an all-time high, not to much a few injuries to start the year, I think that trend continues with the two sides splitting the points.
Columbus Crew SC 1  Portland Timbers 1

Kris Landis

Crew SC will be in this contest the whole way but not able to edge Portland, who will be riding high. Kei Kamara will be the goal scorer. At least one of the goals will be a defensive breakdown, likely in transition.
Portland Timbers 2  Columbus Crew SC 1

Patrick Guldan

Crew SC may not be talking about revenge, but there will be a little edge to the game. I also think that there will be a little letdown given cross country travel and the fact it's not MLS Cup. Portland will be playing in front of 20,000 strong, celebrating a Cup win. Their new pieces will make more of an impact than Crew SC's new pieces and the Timbers will celebrate in style
Portland Timbers 2  Columbus Crew SC 1

How do you feel the match will play out? Predict along with us in the comments below.