United has yet to score in either of their games and struggled mightily without their playmaker Luciano Acosta. He is expected to be available for limited duty today, but D.C. will have to try and build a counterattacking offense built off of savvy wingers Lloyd Sam and Patrick Nyarko and opportunistic forward Patrick Mullins.
Crew SC will have their offense intact behind the goalscoring of Ola Kamara and secondary wave of attackers of Justin Meram, Federico Higuain, and Ethan Finlay. The changes will come farther back as Jonathan Mensah will be suspended and the midfield battle between Artur and Mohammed Abu hasn’t settled yet. The Brazilian loanee is likely to start as head coach Gregg Berhalter is very high on his skills.
Josh Williams was brought in as a veteran option, but Lalas Abubakar and Alex Crognale have made an impression and found the bench in the first two games. Berhalter has often used veteran backups in the past, like Tyson Wahl, but he may turn to youth. Without Jonathan Berhalter may even look to deploy a three man backline and leverage Nico Naess with two partners to cover.
Keys to the Match
The resistible object: The United offense has struggled mightily this season, but the prospective return of Luciano Acosta will provide a boost. Crew SC needs to have a plan to contain the Argentine playmaker, even if he’s making a cameo.
The movable force: The defense has been picked apart on the break this season and will be missing new defensive leader Jonathan Mensah due to suspension. How the rest of the back line compensates will be important to whether Columbus can avoid another loss.
Against the wall: United under Ben Olsen is well drilled to defend in blocks and move forward at pace. Crew SC’s playmakers will have to find the mismatches against a defense that will look to be packed in. Targeting Marcelo Sarvas worked for NYCFC, look for Justin Meram and Federico Higuain to work in that space together.
How to Watch
Date/Time: Saturday March 18th, 7:00 p.m. ET
Venue: RFK Stadium (Washington, D.C.)
Watch: The CW Columbus, Spectrum Sports, BCSN2 (Channel Guide)
Stream: MLS Live
Listen: CD102.5 FM (English) La Mega 103.1 FM (Spanish)