It almost seems like a mirror image from last year’s postseason to now. D.C. United was riding high as the hottest team in Major League Soccer and Columbus Crew SC was struggling to maintain a playoff spot.
While we’re nowhere near the postseason, it’s starting to look like a similar product as these two teams prepare to meet for the first time in 2019. D.C. currently sits in the top spot in the Eastern Conference. Columbus, on the other hand, has struggled with results over the last two games, losing on the road to the Montreal Impact and then again at home on Saturday to the previously winless Portland Timbers
In comes Wayne Rooney for his (hopefully) first visit at MAPFRE Stadium. Should the Crew be worried? Absolutely. United has shown to be a lethal team despite a few poor showings in the month of April. It’s worth noting, however, that D.C.’s last win in Columbus came during the 2007 MLS Season.
Let’s take a look at exactly what the Black & Gold can expect from their first matchup since last years penalty shootout victory in the knockout round with historic Major League Soccers rival, D.C. United.
D.C. United at a glance
Scoring leader: Wayne Rooney (4)
Assist leader: Wayne Rooney (3)
How they play:
United has preferred a 4-2-3-1 lineup, to mix the deep-lying midfield combination of Chri Durkin and Junior Moreno to both drop back and help set up the attack. As a traditional No. 10, Luciano Acosta is able to help link play between the midfield and striker Wayne Rooney.
Watching D.C., it’s easy to see how much the team thrives on play from set pieces and crosses. Whether it’s Rooney, Acosta, or the wingers (Ulises Segura and Lucas Rodriguez), they thrive on creating chances through the middle and the sides with masterful passing.
Two Words: Wayne. Rooney
Everyone knows him. Everyone is scared of him. England legend Wayne Rooney is going to be a handful for the Black & Gold come Wednesday. He’s followed up a strong opening half-campaign in MLS with a great start to his first full season.
Rooney leads United in both goals and assists and is undoubtedly the team’s best player. He’s the key to D.C.’s long-term success if they are to make a legitimate run at MLS Cup 2019. United is also undefeated in games where Rooney produces a goal or assist.
This video should put into perspective exactly what Columbus is going to be up against when it comes to Rooney.
How the Crew win
When D.C. lose, they lose in bad fashion. In their two losses this season (against Los Angeles Football Club and New York City FC), they were shutout in both contests. Against LAFC, regardless of how good they are, United lost 4-0.
While conceding goals may not be an issue against Columbus, goals are sure to come at some point for the Black & Gold. Head coach Caleb Porter has consistently stressed how well they’ve created opportunities to put the ball into the back of the net. Unfortunately, games aren’t decided on how many chances are created.
The Crew will win if they can finally make the most out of their opportunities. Struggling to get on the scoresheet has made their mighty-looking defense look like a shell of themselves from the first few weeks of the season.
While D.C. has the attacking ability of an MLS Cup-winning side, their defense has shown themselves to be the opposite. If Columbus can simply finish, they can get back to their winning ways.