So far this season, we at Massive Report have been far from correct on most of our score predictions. Of course Columbus Crew SC has been far from where expected, so maybe that makes sense? Yeah, we'll go with that.
On Saturday night, the Black & Gold return to the pitch after a week off, looking for that so far elusive three points and the opponent this week is FC Dallas in Frisco, Texas. On the season, Crew SC is 0-1-1 on the road after a 0-0 draw with the Chicago Fire two weeks ago earned the first point of the season. While the point was a slight step in the right direction in the standings, fans are still expecting more from the team that finished second in the Eastern Conference a season ago and made it all the way to MLS Cup.
In the only meeting between these two clubs last season, Dallas walked into MAPFRE Stadium and left with a 3-0 win largely thanks to the counterattack that Columbus was unable to handle.
After a week off, will we see anything different from the Black & Gold? Is this the weekend Crew SC get over whatever MLS Cup appearance hangover the team has been dealing with? Can the players finally learn to play with a target on their back? Will Dallas literally run wild again on the flanks, exploiting the clear vulnerabilities of this system has?
Here is what we think. Let us know your thoughts and predictions in the comment section below.
FC Dallas has beaten Philadelphia and Montreal at home so far this season in shutout wins, yet perplexingly got shelled at Houston, 5-0. In its last outing, the team beat D.C. United handily in RFK, 3-0. It will be interesting to see if Columbus can disrupt the clean sheet streak at Toyota Stadium, but accomplishing that feat won't be easy. The plan in Texas should be relatively simple in theory this week. Columbus must fluster and inundate Dallas goalkeeper Jesse Gonzalez with shots from all angles, and the way to accomplish this is to stand firm in the midfield and stop trying to reinvent the wheel with ill-advised through balls. Effective crosses from the wing need to happen to spread FC Dallas thin, because a centrally clustered defense doesn't favor Columbus' skill set. Crew SC also has Dallas midfielder Kellyn Acosta to consider, returning fresh from international duty with the USMNT's U-23 squad and a clearly talented asset for both organizations. If Columbus limits chances for Maxi Urruti and Fabian Castillo with patient, physical defense and Crew SC should be able to get back on a winning track. I need to see more from the designated players in Black & Gold before I'll predict a road victory, however, and the prospect of a loss if the above criteria are not met wouldn't surprise me at all. Ultimately, let's split the difference and call it a draw.
Columbus Crew SC 1 FC Dallas 1
Continued lack of execution, and playing against a good team in Dallas, leads me to think that we will again drop points on the road. Best case scenario, until this team shows otherwise, is a tie on the road at this point. However, I don't see it happening. UNLESS, we get the possibly rejuvenated Finlay coming off a solid national team debut. Sadly, they will come excruciatingly close, but will ultimately fall.
FC Dallas 1 Columbus Crew SC 0
On paper this isn't a tough game to call. Dallas is 2-0 at home to start the season and 3-1 overall. They seem to have their style and play figured out and Crew SC have demonstrated little to think they can get a result against a top team on the road. Of course, the Black & Gold had last weekend off, so maybe Gregg Berhalter tinkered a bit? I said it before the Fire game and was wrong, but I believe this team is going to get things figured out soon. I don't see a win, but I see an improved performance.
Columbus Crew SC 1 FC Dallas 1
I can think of no logical reason to predict a Crew SC win Saturday. Dallas is playing well and Columbus seems to be unable to get out of their own way. Poor passing from the midfield and inaccurate crosses have lead to a complete lack of quality scoring chances. It's hard to see Columbus getting on the score sheet and a porous defense leads me to believe Dallas will have no problem putting up a goal or two against the Crew SC. I believe the clean sheet against Chicago was a false positive, as the Fire showed no interest in attacking that game. That being said, this is a topsy turvy league and Columbus will be up for this one as they know how good Dallas is.
Columbus Crew SC 2 FC Dallas 0
I honestly see a point as the best case scenario. This Crew team just doesn't look confident. This Dallas team got waffle-stomped by their Texan rivals, then came back to beat a really good Montreal team, so don't think the Crew will have an easy day in Frisco. I think our best chance of getting anything from this match comes from an early goal, and I don't see that as likely. Worst case scenario is giving up an early goal, and if that happens I could easily see us letting three or four in. It's a sad one
FC Dallas 2 Columbus Crew SC 0
(Note: Now that I've predicted a bad match, they'll come out and win...)
I've been terrible at the prediction game early on. Plus, this is MLS. So all of that tells me to go against my gut and predict a Crew SC win (or even points). But I just can't bring myself to do it. We've yet to see a full 90 minutes from Columbus, and FC Dallas isn't just playing extremely well, it's doing so while living up to expectations (which is more than we can say for the other side this week). I expect both teams to generally play this game how they want to, but I think FC Dallas' efficiency will haunt CCSC, even if the shots and/or attacking opportunities leans more toward the visitors. I'd be happy to see Columbus take a point and this is MLS so expect the unexpected, but I don't see that as the most likely scenario.
FC Dallas 2 Columbus Crew SC 0
It's near impossible to pick MLS games. Dallas gets destroyed by Houston 5-0 then drops the Impact and dismantles D.C. United without leaving third gear. Even good teams are going to have a bad game that gets ugly. That said, Columbus is in a perilous position. They love playing with possession and pushing the wings forward. Dallas can hit at tremendous speed and have a player in Mauro Diaz who can lead those attacks. It could get ugly if Crew SC play their normal way without being able to clamp down quickly in midfield off of turnovers. They haven't shown they can do that.
FC Dallas 2 Columbus Crew SC 1