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Massive Scouting Report: Crew vs. FC Dallas

The Crew square off against the team’s first Western Conference opponent of 2019.

MLS: Columbus Crew at FC Dallas Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

It’s Week 3 in Major League Soccer and Columbus Crew SC face off against the team’s first Western Conference opponent of the 2019 season in FC Dallas.

What we know about FC Dallas...

Longtime academy director and now-head coach Luchi Gonzalez has started his FC Dallas tenure unbeaten. Similar enough to Columbus, Dallas settled for a 1-1 draw in Week 1 and came out last weekend and won 2-0. Gonzalez has FC Dallas playing with a similar type of style that Columbus saw in Week 1 against the New York Red Bulls. He prefers a possession-based pressing system with a heavy emphasis on the midfielders linking up the attack. They like to pass the ball, A LOT. FC Dallas has averaged 660.5 passes per game through their first two contests on nearly 86 percent accuracy. Dallas primarily plays in a 4-3-3 defensive formation, with midfielder Carlos Gruezo helping to link the ball to those around him.

Key Offseason Acquisitions

Bryan Acosta (Transfer - from CD Tenerife)

Pablo Aranguiz (Transfer - from Española)

Key Offseason Departures

Anton Nedyalkov (Transfer - to Ludogrets)

Chris Richards (Transfer - to FC Bayern Munich U19)

Tesho Akindele (Transfer - to Orlando City SC)

Players to Watch

M - Bryan Acosta (#8) - Acosta is a short and shifty box-to-box midfielder with a lot of flair. If you saw his goal of the season contender last week versus the LA Galaxy, you would understand why he’s the one the Hoops player to keep an eye out for. He’s also a member of the Honduras Men’s National Team.

M - Carlos Gruezo (#7) - The holding midfielder in the middle of the Dallas lineup, Gruezo is a precise passer and capable of linking up play anywhere on the field. He’s very technically gifted.

M - Paxton Pomykal (#19) - You’re seeing a trend, right? Yes, the entire FC Dallas midfield should be watched closely. Rounding them out is 19-year-old Homegrown Paxton Pomykal. He was a catalyst in last week’s win versus the Galaxy. He oo, is a great passer and set up Acosta’s goal.

Starting XI vs. LA Galaxy (Week 2)

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Good: FC Dallas seems to have a new culture built with Gonzalez calling the shots. In years past, there’s been a lot of backside talk about the team not having a certain identity. With the way they’ve started the year, it seems like that notion is no longer valid and that Dallas could be a legitimate contender coming out of the Western Conference.

Bad: If Columbus keep its shape and don’t have any mistakes, FCD could find it difficult to finish. The visitors lack clinical finishing and may need to find more creative ways to score, which, however, may not pose an issue to them.

Ugly: There’s not much to say much here. FC Dallas is a sound and composed side and will pose issues for the Crew.

The Crew succeeds, if...

The Crew succeeds if they don’t get too flustered with Dallas’s style of play. They should know what to expect with many similarities to the Red Bulls in Week 1. FC Dallas will play possession, and mostly rely on passing to build up offensive plays. If Columbus can get on the counter attack and minimize lapses, they could very well see out a good result.

The Crew succeeds if Wil Trapp and Artur don’t get overrun by the Dallas’ midfield trio. Simply put, they’re going to need some help on the backside. The fullbacks, Waylon Francis and Harrison Afful, may need to minimize their forward runs and focus on a more defensive showcase.

The Crew succeeds if Gyasi Zardes can keep his form going into this week. While the goals can come from elsewhere, it will be a big benefit for the Black & Gold if they come from Zardes to keep his confidence up.

Key Matchup

Midfield vs. Midfield

This game will most certainly be won in the midfield. Artur and Trapp will have their hands full with the trio of Gruezo, Pomykal and Acosta being seemingly everywhere at all times. They’ll pass, run and push up to help the team in transition. If the trio can play like the way they did against the Galaxy, Columbus could be in big trouble.