For the second time in the last four days, Columbus Crew SC will face an Eastern Conference opponent for the second time this year. On Wednesday, the Black & Gold were able to get a 1-0 win over the Philadelphia Union after a 0-0 draw in mid-March. On Saturday, Columbus hopes to get a little revenge over the Chicago Fire after the Men in Red handed Crew SC a loss in early April.
Following their first loss of 2018, the Black & Gold went to Chicago and dominated the Fire in every category except the scoreboard. Chicago was able to capitalize on one mistake by goalkeeper Zack Steffen and leave Toyota Park with a 1-0 win.
Now the Fire come to MAPFRE Stadium and face a Crew SC team on a four-match unbeaten run. Meanwhile, Chicago is sitting below the playoff line with just 11 points through nine matches.
Do we think Crew SC will exact its revenge against the long-time Eastern Conference rival? Let’s see what our staff had to say.
The Crew seems to have gained some momentum over the last few weeks with two wins and two draws in the last four matches while Chicago has been nothing but inconsistent so far in 2018. It will be the second time the teams meet this year and the 1-0 Fire victory a few weeks ago in Bridgeview was not necessarily a fair outcome to what happened over 90 minutes on the field.
Playing at home, the Black & Gold should be able to add another victory to their campaign. It will be interesting to see how both head coaches approach this game as it will be the third match in just eight days for both the teams, but this situation should benefit the Crew, which has a considerably deeper roster than their rivals.
Columbus Crew SC 2 Chicago Fire 0
The end of a congested fixture week arrives with a chance to secure an impressive and important seven points from three matches. Chicago also finishes up a congested week but have the unfortunate duty of doing so on the road. For the Fire, both Bastian Schweinsteiger and Dax McCarty played the full 90 minutes in the week’s previous two games so there is a chance that neither starts on Saturday. Even better, Crew SC might have the opportunity to play an exhausted Chicago midfield.
Gregg Berhalter has done an excellent job rotating his squad this week and should have a full team at his disposal on Saturday. With a rested Federico HIguain and a confident Gyasi Zardes, I think there’s a good chance that the Black & Gold bump their unbeaten streak to five and see Zardes move further up the MLS goal scoring leaderboard.
Columbus Crew SC 2 Chicago Fire 1
The first meeting between these two teams in 2018, a 1-0 victory for the Fire, was not a fair reflection of how the two teams played. I think that will change in this contest. The Men in Red have some interesting pieces, but don’t seem to be able to put them together on the field. Conversely, Crew SC is figuring things out, again, and learning how to grind out results.
The Black & Gold may have unintentionally benefitting from Pedro Santos’ red card last week, as he will be well rested. The rest of the lineup will be interesting, but I expect Gregg Berhalter to put out a strong group with the hope to grab seven points from the last three matches.
If the offense can put the ball in the net, this game should be no problem for Crew SC.
Columbus Crew SC 2 Chicago Fire
The last time these teams met, Columbus looked better but left Bridgeview with no points. They should do better this time out. Gregg Berhalter and staff have managed the minutes well over the course of this busy week. Artur, Harrison Afful and Jonathan Mensah were able to skip traveling to Seattle altogether, while Federico Higuain should be fresh after Wednesday’s light duty and Pedro Santos had a mandated day off. The Fire is playing better than a month ago, but are coming off a midweek game too and have to travel as well. The Black & Gold’s legs should be just a little quicker.
Columbus Crew SC 2 Chicago Fire 1
I’m still not sure what to make of Chicago this season. The Fire have clearly not found the rhythm they had for the first two-third of last year, but I’ve also watched them battle to scrape out points they maybe haven’t deserved during the last month. They obviously miss David Accam, but Nemanja Nikolic still pops up in dangerous places and Bastian Schweinsteiger still has moments of brilliance even if he can’t do that for 90 minutes. To me, Brandon Vincent has been a bright spot for Chicago overlapping on the left flank, but this is still a young defensive group missing some pieces.
The history of this rivalry shows that home field matters, which makes me feel better about predicting a positive result for Columbus. Crew SC will be at full strength, and after some rotation earlier this week, I expect we’ll see a mostly first-choice squad. If CCSC can avoid any major mental breakdowns in the back, I think this can be three points and continue the positive momentum that’s been gained in this busy week. Three games in eight days is a big ask, but here’s to staying positive. Three points here will probably loom large a few months from now when the playoff race is shaking out.
Columbus Crew SC 3 Chicago Fire 1
With three games in one week for both teams, I’m predicting a bit of a slower game than normal. However, Chicago has started nine players in both previous games, while Gregg Berhalter has rotated his squad more, with only six players starting both games, so Columbus may be a bit fresher. The Black & Gold have proven to be the better team so far this season, and Crew SC’s previous loss to Chicago was not reflective of the play on the field. I expect Columbus to continue to play stout defense (hot take: Columbus’ defense is actually really good), and I expect the offense to finish off one of their chances.
Columbus Crew SC 1 Chicago Fire 0
Let’s be real, there was little soccer actually played on Wednesday against the Philadelphia Union. Lineup changes due to short turnaround between games and red card suspensions did produce a result though. The last time Crew SC and the Fire met, Chicago won on an uncharacteristic mistake by Crew SC keeper Zack Steffen. And even though Columbus was the better team, they could not come back to salvage the 1-0 deficit. I expect Crew SC to come out with a preferred lineup and attach early and often to avoid a result similar to their previous meeting with Chicago.
Columbus Crew SC 2 Chicago Fire 1
Crew SC close out a busy week with a finale against the Chicago Fire on Saturday at MAPFRE Stadium. The Fire have won two of the last three meetings against the Black & Gold, but Crew SC remain unbeaten in its last seven home games against the Fire.
I expect Columbus to take a similar approach to what we saw against Philadelphia by attacking down the wings. If Cristian Martinez can replicate his performance from Wednesday, it could be a good night for the Black & Gold. Unfortunately, I think heavy legs play a factor and Crew SC draw even with their rivals on Saturday night.
Columbus Crew SC 1 Chicago Fire 1
Agree? Disagree? Let us know what you think of this game in the comment section below.