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Massive Predictions: Vancouver Whitecaps at Columbus Crew SC

Will it be another three points at home for Crew SC?

MLS: Vancouver Whitecaps at Atlanta United FC Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

After a thrilling 3-1 victory at home last weekend against D.C. United, Columbus Crew SC remains at the friendly confines of MAPFRE Stadium for this week’s encounter with the Vancouver Whitecaps.

The question on most people’s minds is will it be friendly? While Crew SC has begun 2018 brightly with three wins in four matches, the Black & Gold have not defeated the Whitecaps since 2011 with two losses coming in Columbus.

Vancouver is off to a good start as well at 2-1-1, but has failed to win in each of its last two matches.

This game also marks the return of Kei Kamara to MAPFRE Stadium, a place he’s only played once since his unceremonious departure in 2016 following his on-field spat with Federico Higuain. That storyline always makes things interesting.

But the focus will be on the field. Can Crew SC continue their hot start and finally take care of business against the Whitecaps? Let’s see what our staff thinks about this one.

Guilherme Torres

Momentum is good for Crew SC, as the team is still undefeated in the season, and had an encouraging victory last week. The club will have team captain Wil Trapp and goalkeeper Zack Steffen back after they played for the U.S. National Team on Tuesday. However, in some time, the team will drop points at home and I feel it could happen on Saturday.

The Whitecaps have proven to be a tough matchup for Crew SC in recent years and even if they haven’t been impressive so far in 2018, they have the physicality and the athleticism to put the Black & Gold in trouble. If Columbus does a good job on defending set pieces and crosses inside the box, they will be in good position to ruin my prediction.
Columbus Crew SC 1 Vancouver Whitecaps 1

Ralph Schudel

Can Crew SC continue its unbeaten streak? It’s going to be a tough matchup on Saturday, but I think the Black & Gold are ready for the challenge. To beat this Whitecaps side, it takes something special. Fantastic wing play will be needed in this game, as Cristian Martinez and Pedro Santos need to be spot on with their passing and get service into the box.

Vancouver figures to have Kendall Waston back in the equation after international duty and having his red card rescinded for a foul against Atlanta United. It’s not going to be easy besting this Caps’ defense as they like to stay compact and will get numbers behind the ball, Gregg Berhalter and his staff will have to devise the perfect game plan to take down the Western Conference co-leaders.
Columbus Crew SC 1 Vancouver Whitecaps 1

Nathaniel Marhefka

Vancouver has a great record against Columbus and it’s not much of a secret why. They are good at pressing, they are great on the counter, they attack with speed. All things Crew SC has struggled with under Gregg Berhalter.

Put the pressure on. That will be the pre-match talk for Whitecaps head coach Carl Robinson. Will they counter and sit back? Or will they press? It’s hard to guess, but you have to assume either or.

This will be the toughest match for Columbus so far this season and everyone will have to be at peak to come out with a victory.

Columbus will get some chances but will they finish? They are at home, so they have the tin their favor.
Columbus Crew SC 1 Vancouver Whitecaps 1

Josh Mlot

This will be the best test since Columbus took on Toronto FC in the opener. Vancouver has been very solid going back into the latter portions of last season, and the addition of Kei Kamara seems to fit their system very well. Alphonso Davies has already shown growth and has been a weapon on the wing. There are some similarities in approach to Columbus, but I think the Whitecaps tend to be a little more direct and play a little wider than Crew SC.

Being at home, you have to like the Black & Gold’s chances. The one potential pitfall is that Vancouver tends to be one of the better road teams in MLS. That worries me a little. Overall, though, I think MAPFRE Stadium and the early-season momentum will boost CCSC. I’m looking forward to a slightly tougher challenge to see how the team reacts.
Columbus Crew SC 1 Vancouver Whitecaps 1

Patrick Murphy

I’m having a tough time judging the Whitecaps so far this season. I think this is going to be a good team, but they’ve played four very different matches, so it’s hard to get a read on how Vancouver will play Columbus.

I imagine the Whitecaps press some, but mostly look to get the wingers in behind Crew SC’s fullbacks when they push forward and look to hit on the counter, crossing the ball to Kei Kamara. Who Gregg Berhalter goes with alongside Jonathan Mensah will be interesting, as it will be a difficult battle with the freakishly athletic striker.

While Vancouver has been good on the road in recent years, I still favor the Black & Gold in this one, but I certainly think this will be the biggest test of the year, considering the other things on Toronto FC’s mind when those two teams met to start the season.

I expect an open game with plenty of goals, given I don’t fully trust either team’s defense.
Columbus Crew SC 3 Vancouver Whitecaps 2

Patrick Guldan

Columbus has a nearly perfect start to the season and the game against Vancouver is a good chance to continue a hot streak. This is a solid matchup for Crew SC, as the Whitecap attack comes from the wings where they like to cross the ball. While Harrison Afful and Milton Valenzuela may let in more crosses from out wide, Jonathan Mensah, Lalas Abubakar and Josh Williams are adept in the air, even against the formidable Kei Kamara.

The Caps likely will sit deep. But with Federico Higuain and Pedro Santos, the Black & Gold has a pair that can open up seams in all but the tightest defenses.
Columbus Crew SC 2 Vancouver Whitecaps 0

Now it’s your turn. Tell us what you think about Saturday’s matchup between Crew SC and the Whitecaps.