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Massive Predictions: Columbus Crew SC at LA Galaxy

A depleted Black & Gold travel out West to take on an equally shorthanded Galaxy.

MLS: LA Galaxy at Columbus Crew SC Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

Although it may not seem like it based on the standings, Columbus Crew SC have turned things around. Over the last four games, the Black & Gold are 2-1-1 and have a chance to rise up in the East this weekend.

The issue this week is the lack of numbers for Columbus. Four players — Justin Meram, Tony Tchani, Harrison Afful and Rodrigo Saravia — were all called up for international duty. Also, midfielder Wil Trapp suffered a concussion last week and will not travel out to California. On top of that, Federico Higuain did not play last week due to inflammation following his sports hernia surgery earlier in the season.

Crew SC’s opponent on Saturday night is the LA Galaxy, who are also dealing with player absences. We know forward/winger Gyasi Zardes is done for the year due to a broken bone in his foot. Midfielder Nigel de Jong has transferred to Galatasaray. Steven Gerrard and Robbie Keane are also questionable.

Both sides will be reshuffling their lineups, but each club has talent in reserve. Who can get the job done? Let’s see what our staff says.

Patrick Murphy

I think the most disappointing thing about Crew SC missing so many players for this game is it could kill any momentum from a relatively positive last week. With new players being inserted in the starting lineup, the chemistry could be impacted and that could cause issues.

With that said, the back line remains more or less intact. If Chad Barson has to play at right back, you get a little more defensive player in a position he is more comfortable. The center midfield will be interesting, but between Mohammed Saeid, Hector Jimenez and Dilly Duka, Gregg Berhalter has diverse options. Federico Higuain made the trip, but will he play?

I would imagine and cagey affair, especially if the Galaxy are down multiple players as well. A draw would be a good result for the Black & Gold.
Columbus Crew SC 1 LA Galaxy 1

Josh Mlot

This game is suddenly fascinating to me, as the two teams battle to see which roster can best withstand being completely ravaged. For all of Columbus' absences, L.A. will not feature Nigel de Jong, Steven Gerrard, Gyasi Zardes, Jelle Van Damme or Robbie Keane. The scary thing is that, despite all that, I still think the Galaxy are in a better spot than Crew SC. Money not only provides you stars, but also depth, which is something Columbus doesn't really have. Throw in that half of the Black & Gold fans probably weren't even watching MLS the last time this club won in southern California, and this still looks like a very tough matchup.
Columbus Crew SC 1 LA Galaxy 1

Patrick Guldan

Both teams will be missing players and both need points, Crew SC to get back in the playoff picture and LA to arrest their slide. The list of absences is long for both teams, but Crew SC may have a challenge rolling out a midfield. If Berhalter can solve that problem, then Columbus has a great chance of coming out with a result and a solid odds of a win. Federico Higuain appears ready to play and Mohammed Saied is a starter. It's that third option in midfield that is the question. It could be Hector Jimenez who played central midfield in preseason games or it could be Michael Parkhurst who notably had a cameo as a substitute in 2014 after returning from the World Cup camp. Neither are optimal fits, but despite any formation change, Crew SC's chances will likely depend on that choice. Ultimately, I have a suspicion that the newly fit Gaston Sauro, Nicolai Næss, and Parkhurst will make an impact and Columbus will get a needed point.
Columbus Crew SC 1 LA Galaxy 1

Nathaniel Marhefka

With a laundry list of injuries and players away on international duty this match is going to be an odd setup both ends of the pitch. The starters and tactics for each club is a toss up however there is reason to suspect a 4-4-2 both ways as both Crew SC and LA are thin in the center of midfield.

It is possible Adam Jahn gets a second start in a row - this time next to Ola Kamara. Gaston Sauro is also set to return to action. Could he get the call to start? Or will Gregg Berhalter just plug in Hector Jimenez or Dilly Duka at central midfield next to Mohammed Saeid. It wouldn't be an ideal fit but Berhalter has shown huge reluctance to altering is team's setup the past two years.

It will be quite interesting go see what the starting lineups look like and how they take shape on the field. It is hard to know what to expect. One thing is certain though: Crew SC need a win. Will they get it? Away in Los Angeles? I don't think so. They haven’t shown me they can cut it just yet. Sure they have two recent wins, but against whom? Even weakened, the Galaxy is still stronger.
LA Galaxy 3 Columbus Crew SC 1

Sam Fahmi

The last time Crew SC and LA Galaxy played, the Black & Gold went on an unexpected tear and dropped a 4-1 result on a decent LA team. Crew SC followed that result with a string of wins eventually leading to an Eastern Conference championship and a MLS Cup birth. I don't see that happening this year. Many injuries compounded by FOUR international call-ups have depleted Crew SC's roster. Same with LA. I don't know what to expect from this game, but should the Crew come out aggressive like they did against San Jose, I could possibly see a win.
Columbus Crew SC 2 LA Galaxy 1