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Massive Predictions: D.C. United at Columbus Crew SC

How do we think this classic Eastern Conference matchup will play out?

MLS: D.C. United at Columbus Crew SC Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

Columbus Crew SC returns home on Saturday, hosting D.C. United at MAPFRE Stadium.

The Black & Gold enter this match still undefeated in 2018 after a 0-0 draw at the Philadelphia Union last week.

United are winless on the season with two draws and a defeat as the Black & Red look to navigate a tricky start to the season with only two “home” matches until July 14 when the team’s new stadium, Audi Field, opens.

Both teams come into this match missing pieces due to international duty. Crew SC captain Wil Trapp and goalkeeper Zack Steffen are both in U.S. Men’s National Team camp, while United will be without Zoltan Stieber (Hungary), Ulises Segura (Costa Rica) and Oniel Fisher (Jamaica). How the coaches deal with these losses will go a long way in determining the outcome of this contest.

Speaking of outcomes, let’s get to predicting. What does the Massive Report staff think will come of Crew SC vs. D.C.

Guilherme Torres

While Crew SC is still unbeaten, D.C. United is yet to win a match in the 2018 MLS season as it has two draws and one loss after three matches. Both teams will have absences for international call-ups, but D.C. also has some players sidelined by injuries and might not even have an 18-man game day roster.

The last time Crew SC was defeated at home was July 2017, one month before D.C. got its most recent road win. The two times they played last season the Black & Gold prevailed 2-0, so I’m betting on another Dos a Cero.
Columbus Crew SC 2 D.C. United 0

Josh Mlot

Normally I’d be all in on a Crew win here, but the absences of Wil Trapp and Zack Steffen — Trapp in particular — worry me a little. There’s just no other natural No. 6 on the roster, and it’s an important position.

On the other hand, Columbus is a superior squad to D.C. and it is at home. My guess is we’ll see Ricardo Clark and Jon Kempin step in. And my guess is they’ll handle business. The key will be staying awake to prevent Luciano Acosta from finding space that Trapp might otherwise be monitoring. Acosta is inconsistent but dangerous.

Beyond that, United has not created well. The wingers - Yamil Assad and Paul Arriola do good work but have been somewhat isolated. Columbus will boss possession, so get the first goal, keep the pressure on D.C. and stay aware.
Columbus Crew SC 2 D.C. United 1

Collin Johnson

After opening the season with three consecutive halves of very good soccer, Crew SC have played three consecutive halves of not very good soccer. On the East Coast, D.C, United still hasn’t really figured out what they’re doing under eighth-year head coach Ben Olsen. Returning to MAPFRE Stadium, Columbus has an opportunity to keep its multi-month regular season unbeaten streak alive against a team that the Black & Gold should absolutely expect to beat at home.

The big question Crew SC will have to answer is how the team can overcome the losses of Zack Steffen and Wil Trapp to U.S. National Team call-ups. Though Steffen has been solid during his career, Trapp’s loss will be the most difficult to fill. Luckily, both Mohammad Abu and Ricardo Clark have the experience, and skill, necessary to succeed against this D.C. United team.
Columbus Crew SC 2 D.C. United 1

Patrick Murphy

The big question marks for Crew SC are the absences of Zack Steffen and Wil Trapp. It’s not often that Columbus plays without its starting goalkeeper and Trapp didn’t miss a game last season. I believe it will be Jon Kempin in goal for the Black & Gold with veteran Ricardo Clark — who was doing extra fitness work at training this week — filling in for Trapp.

Now that that’s solved, how will this game go? D.C. is also missing some players and is dealing with injuries. I already didn’t value United highly, but lacking options, I think even less of this team in terms of Saturday. Fans should be disappointed if Crew SC can’t come away with a win at home.
Columbus Crew SC 3 D.C. United 1

Sam Fahmi

Another chapter in a traditional rivalry that may be on it’s last legs. Crew SC has had a good start so far in the 2018 season. D.C. United, on the other hand, have struggled. United comes in to Columbus with two ties, a loss and the look of a team that is still trying to figure out it’s identity.

Having said that, Crew SC is missing two critical cogs in it’s machine. Gregg Berhalter finds himself needing to fill the very big shoes of Wil Trapp and Zack Steffen, who are at the U.S. National Team. How strong is Crew SC’s depth? Well, Saturday will be when we find out. I’m calling for a Crew SC.
Columbus Crew SC 3 D.C. United 1

Nathaniel Marhefka

I had the pleasure of going to D.C. United’s opening match against Orlando City SC, down in Florida. To put it plainly, D.C. is a haphazard team at best. No rhythm, no cohesion. It was a game of many individuals offensively, with a defensive trap that failed to prevent against attacks, even when Orlando was down a man.

From a technical standpoint it was bad. And I don’t see any sign of them getting things together. Their defense is very poor, and their attack is fast but lacks any real clinicism.

If they were the home team in this tie, I would consider the possibility of a draw but in Columbus I don’t think they stand a chance.
Columbus Crew SC 4 D.C. United 1

Ralph Schudel

Having spent an extensive amount of time studying film on D.C. United this week, I feel very confident of Crew SC’s chances. Each game the Black & Red have played, they struggle when the offense looks to pull them apart. This creates passing channels that open between the two center backs and creates a perfect opportunity for a striker as talented as Gyasi Zardes to exploit the area.

I expect Zardes to be busy, but for him to be successful, he must get service from the wings. Pedro Santos and Cristian Martinez cannot sleep walk through this game or we could have another scoreless tie or worse. The Black & Gold defense must stay on it’s toes as United striker Darren Mattocks or dynamic midfield Yamil Asad could strike at anytime.

That being said, United’s defense is a mess, but David Ousted cleans a lot of the messes up.
Columbus Crew SC 2 D.C. United 1

Patrick Guldan

Columbus has started the season with three positive results and is on a long undefeated streak. Missing Wil Trapp and Zack Steffen is a big loss for the Black & Gold, but international absences will affect both teams.

This is a game that Crew SC should win, but they are due a a surprise. Missing two key players may be just enough to trip up the Black & Gold, but this is a United team that is struggling a bit in the early season. While this may be set up a little bit like a “trap game,” Columbus still has Federico Higuain and Gyasi Zardes so Crew SC may settle for an unsatisfying tie.
Columbus Crew SC 1 D.C. United 1

Now it’s your turn. What will the final score be between Crew SC and United? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.