It’s been a busy international break for Columbus Crew SC as five players were away with their national team during the off week. Captain Wil Trapp, Gyasi Zardes, and Zack Steffen were with the United States National Team. While Cristian Martinez was away with the Panamanian National Team and Harrison Afful was with Ghana.
While their teammates were away, the rest of the Black & Gold were hard at work as Columbus head coach Gregg Berhalter pushed his side to keep them sharp during the stretch run. Crew SC prepare for three games over the next week, beginning with the Western Conference leading FC Dallas.
Dallas come into this match on the heels of a 4-2 victory against their in-state rivals Houston Dynamo. Midfielders Michael Barrios and Santiago Mosquera played a pivotal role in the win, scoring goals and putting Houston under immense pressure. Barrios couldn’t be contained as he has now scored or assisted on a goal in seven straight matches.
Crew SC will have a difficult fixture when it travels to Frisco, Texas on Saturday night. Let’s take a look at the West leaders.
Dallas at a glance
Leading scorer: Roland Lomah (8)
Assist leader: Mauro Diaz (8)
Since coming over from the Portland Timbers a few seasons ago, Maxi Urruti made a name for himself suiting up for Dallas. The Argentine midfielder continues to grow and evolve his game. With the recent acquisition of Dominque Badji, Urruti has refined his game and adapted to a new role. Instead of playing as a forward, he drops into the midfield to serve as a creative playmaker.
That doesn’t mean teams should switch off when guarding Urruti. His prefers to creep up into the final third and overwhelm the center backs. This allows him to generate quality scoring chances, even if it’s from a great distance. The playmaker seldom misses.
Head coach Oscar Pareja receives a ton of acclaim for what he is able to do with his young attack, but his defense warrants praise as well. FC Dallas possess a disciplined defense that doesn’t make a lot of mistakes.
Anchored by Matt Hedges and Maynor Figueroa in the middle, Dallas stays compact and disciplined with its tackling in and around the penalty area. This season, Dallas averages 18 tackles per games and 14 interceptions.
The defense plays a pivotal role is starting the counter attack, which allows the Michael Barrios and Maxi Urruti to thrive and do most of their damage on the attack.
How Crew SC win
The Black & Gold will need to do its best to stretch the disciplined FC Dallas defense. Superb play along the wings will do the trick in this match as Justin Meram and Pedro Santos will be commissioned with handling these duties. Should Crew SC pull apart the Dallas defense, it should expose the goalkeeper and generate quality scoring chances.
Columbus need to remain guarded against a barrage from Michael Barrios and Maxi Urruti. The tandem possesses the capability of putting a game out of range quickly and could smother an opponents chance at victory with their goal scoring prowess.