That feels like a lot longer than it is in a stretch where Columbus has gone 0-1-3, but Crew SC hopes to close out May on a good note Saturday night when Real Salt Lake comes to town.
RSL will not be a pushover opponent. Despite missing captain Kyle Beckerman, who is away on international duty, Salt Lake is still a formidable matchup for the Black & Gold. Currently sitting in third place in the Western Conference, Real have turned around last year's disappointing season in the early portions of 2016.
Crew SC has only two wins on the year but is unbeaten in the last three matches. Both of those Columbus wins have happened at home. RSL has six wins already in 2016, but is 2-2-3 on the road this season and 1-7-1 all time at MAPFRE Stadium.
Can the Black & Gold make it a celebratory Memorial Day Weekend for the local folks with a big victory at home? Here's what our staff thinks of this matchup. Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
Nick Rimando is a really good keeper. I don't see Columbus Crew SC scoring in this game unless the Salt Lake defense breaks down completely. Sadly, I feel that this will be an ugly and boring game. Slow pace will be the theme with not a lot of chances in either side. Crew SC will drop the points at home. I really hope I'm wrong, but I can't see any better scenario with this Columbus team's current form or personnel.
Real Salt Lake 1 Columbus Crew SC 0
Despite missing Harrison Afful and Cedrick Mabwati due to international duty and Gaston Sauro's absence due to injury, I have a good feeling about this game for Crew SC. Maybe it's just the belief of the team, but there's a sense of positivity around the Black & Gold right now that I believe will spill over on the field. The chances have been there for Ola Kamara, the forward just hasn't found the right touch. Ethan Finlay has struggled as a starter, but time on the bench could be the recipe to wake the beat. I believe both players have standout performances in this one and Columbus gets back in the win column.
Columbus Crew SC 2 Real Salt Lake 1
I think this RSL team is pretty good and pretty battle tested in the West. They have some scary attacking players that can really punish the types of mistakes we see out of Columbus. Their center-back pairing of Aaron Maund and Justen Glad is working well and the defense as a whole is well organized. We have yet to see Crew SC click offensively, so I think it's unlikely it happens this week. Stranger things have happened though. I just don't think the matchup suits CCSC real well, but they do get home field against a team in the midst of a long stretch of road games.
Columbus Crew SC 1 Real Salt Lake 1
My predictions have been anything but massive. Columbus need to show an ability to finish chances if I am going to predict them to win again. They play great between the penalty boxes, but seem to struggle inside both. The two best field players for Columbus (Cedric and Afful) are missing this week, which makes it hard for me to envision a victory. I think we go away from this one feeling like Columbus should have won, but console ourselves by saying "Real Salt Lake's name is based on Real Madrid's name. And they're pretty good (and may have won the Champions League earlier in the day), so all things considered a point is a good result."
Columbus Crew SC 0 Real Salt Lake 0
It's a trying time in Crew SC land. Confidence, already low after the MLS Cup debacle, has never had a chance to recover this season. Poor performances and results to start the season were followed by the departure of a star striker, leaving even more questions. Now the news of Gaston Sauro's injury means they'll be without their undisputed best central defender. Add to that the International absences of Cedrick Mabwati and Harrison Afful, and the Crew's depth will be seriously tested this weekend.
The good news is Columbus be playing at home, where they've been slightly better this season. There are serious questions on both sides of the ball, however. Who will be scoring the goals? The obvious hope is Ola Kamara, who is reaching the end of his "he'll need a few matches to settle in" phase of his integration. Ethan Finlay will likely return to the lineup in lieu of Cedrick, and hopefully his spell on the sidelines will spark an uptick in form for the underperforming winger. Should he fail to make an impact perhaps Emil Larsen will finally get a chance to show what he can do.
On the other side of the ball the expectations are probably lower, for understandable reasons. Whatever reshuffled defense takes the field Saturday will likely be playing for damage control, not looking for a clean sheet. If there was ever a match where the Crew will need Michael Parkhurst to play like a captain, it will be this one. No matter who is playing next to him, it is likely that the back line will perform up (or down) to his level. And however the back line goes, this Crew team will go with it.
Columbus Crew SC 1 Real Salt Lake 1
I don't have the faith. Crew SC are too banged up on defense and Real Salt Lake has been good at taking advantage of errors in midfield and move into the attacking zone quickly. Joao Plata is good and Yura Movsisian is getting into very good spots. Burrito Martinez is a highlight reel who fills out a dynamic attack. It's something that will test Columbus and the makeshift and likely inexperienced backline.
The Columbus offensive struggles continue. There are fewer crosses, but there isn't much inventiveness from the attacking midfield while Ola Kamara looks like a square peg in a round hole. The system as used for Kei is a waste of what makes Ola valuable. Justin Meram can be a game breaker, but he's wildly inconsistent. Ethan Finlay's form is missing in action. Emil who? When Crew SC have needed someone to step up on offense, more often than not, no one does.
Prove me wrong kids, prove me wrong.
Real Salt Lake 2 Columbus Crew SC 1