Columbus Crew SC are coming off a much-needed win against the Seattle Sounders this past Wednesday. The Black & Gold fired on all cylinders and the big names came to play as Federico Higuian, Justin Meram and Ola Kamara all found the score sheet.
Coupled with a stellar defensive performance from the likes of Hector Jimenez and Josh Williams, it was easy to see how Crew SC were able to cruise to a 3-0 victory over the defending MLS Cup champions.
Saturday’s opponent, the Colorado Rapids, have had a rough go of things so far this MLS campaign. The Rapids have only amassed 10 points through 12 matches, which is definitely below expectations of head coach Pablo Mastroeni and his staff.
The story hasn’t been so grim for Colorado at home as they boast a 3-2-1 record at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park this season. The last four campaigns have been impressive for the Rapids at home as well where the team has a record of 25-15-17.
Interesting enough, Colorado are 11-4-5 against Crew SC all-time when playing at home.
Let’s take a look at what Columbus can expect to see on Saturday night versus the Rapids.
Rapids at a Glance:
Record: 3-8-1 0.83 points-per-game
Leading Goal Scorer: Dominique Badji (3)
Assists Leader: Eights players tied at one
What to watch for:
The aforementioned Dominique Badji is proving to be one of the few bright spots for the Rapids. The forward from Senegal can be an absolute pest to opposing defenses and have the tendency to get into foot races with the opposition’s backline. If the Black & Gold aren’t careful, Badji could hurt them quickly.
Kevin Doyle can also hurt teams if they aren’t careful. He is having a quiet year, but that doesn’t mean he cannot catch fire. He has two goals and one assist in 11 appearances for the Rapids this season.
Colorado’s midfield is perhaps the biggest concern to the opposition. Shkelzen Gashi has been a “Swiss Superman” of sorts for the Rapids as he has pulled off some herculean efforts on free kicks in the past.
Gashi can let a shot go from just about any distance and poses a major threat anywhere on the field. He is also quite good at finding his teammates and putting them in scoring opportunities. Colorado may not be doing many things right this season, but they thrive on stealing the ball from the opponent and starting the counter the other direction. Gashi is a key cog in that game plan.
Dillon Powers is a talented player that frequently goes overlooked for the Rapids. Prior to the arrival of Tim Howard and Jermaine Jones, Powers was thought to be THE guy for this Colorado organization. Unfortunately, his star faded out underneath Mastroeni.
However, due to injuries and personnel changes, Powers has worked his way back into the favor of his manager. It will be interesting to see what Powers can do with his second chance.
There is one midfielder that has forever worked his way into the hearts of Crew SC fans, and that is Mohammed Saeid. After being left unprotected by Columbus in the expansion draft, Saeid set course north for expansion-side Minnesota United.
He played three games for the Loons and then found himself packing his bags and heading west for Colorado in a March 31st trade. Columbus fans know what a dynamic player Saeid is and the skill-set he possesses. One would think that he may be playing with a chip on his shoulder against Crew SC to show the type of player they are missing out on.
How Crew SC win:
Attack, Attack, Attack.
If Columbus comes out against the Rapids like the team did against Seattle, they won’t have any concerns. Colorado’s height has always played a tremendous advantage, but with Sjoberg out of the lineup, the Black & Gold have a chance to win those important aerial duels.
Justin Meram has already surpassed his career high in goals by scoring on Wednesday. Against a weak Rapids defense, it’s easy to expect him to go off against the bottom-feeders in the West.
2017 has been the year of Pipa. Higuain is recapturing the magic of previous seasons and is looking like the devastating No.1 10 that Crew SC are used to. If Higuain can continue his fabulous play and off-the-ball movement, he may just have himself a day against the Rapids on Saturday.
The defense needs to limit mental errors. Those were ever-present against Toronto FC, and were eliminated for the most part against Seattle. Even though Jonathan Mensah and Josh Williams had their fair share of questionable decision-making against the Sounders.
Artur and Wil Trapp were a great combination in the midfield as they shielded the backline against the attack of the Sounders. They will be key in the Columbus attack and will look to unlock the Rapids.
You can catch the game Saturday with kickoff scheduled for 9:00pm.