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What We Learned: Crew vs. Houston Dynamo

The Crew had another tie on the road and here are our main takeaways.

MLS: Columbus Crew SC at Houston Dynamo Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

The Columbus Crew brought another point back home from Texas as three weeks after a 2-2 tie with FC Dallas, the Black & Gold evened the Houston Dynamo 1-1 at the BBVA Compass Stadium on Saturday night. After a promising 3-1 win against New York City FC at home last weekend, the Crew was not as positive in this game, with an uninspired offensive performance and unusual defensive mistakes that could have cost the team the match in Texas.

Here are our main takeaways from the game:

Winning on the road is still a struggle

Regardless of Saturday night’s match, Columbus has a lot to be proud of in the current Major League Soccer season. The team’s performance on the road is not one of those things, however, as the Black & Gold are yet to take all three points when playing as visitors in 2020.

Among the team’s eight road matches, there are some arguably good results, such as the ties with reigning champions Seattle Sounders and FC Dallas, but also some bad ones. Heading into the MLS Cup playoffs, Columbus needs to find a way to be more competitive against stronger opponents on the road and a good start would be figuring out a way to avoid conceding goals, something that has happened in all but one of those matches, especially early.

Not much to see from Nemeth

The match in Texas was the first opportunity for Black & Gold fans to see the team’s newest addition, Krisztian Nemeth, on the field and unfortunately due to the Crew’s limited offensive impetus, there was not a lot to take from it.

Nemeth didn’t see much of the ball and his most notable contribution was fighting for the ball with Victor Cabrera in the play that the Dynamo defender sent the ball into his own net. That, don’t get me wrong, is not to be critical of the Hungarian, who couldn’t do much without reliable service, but showed in the limited opportunities he had that he can indeed be a more technical and mobile option up front than Fanendo Adi.

Key players return, don’t make a lot of impact

Crew fans got excited during the week when head Caleb Porter announced that the injured Eloy Room, Darlington Nagbe and Lucas Zelarayan should all return to the field in Houston. That indeed happened with the goalkeeper playing all 90 minutes, Nagbe starting and remaining on the field until the 63-minute mark and the Argentinean coming off the bench to play the entire second half.

Room did a good job early in the match with a couple of important saves but wasn’t very confident to stop Memo Rodriguez’s first shot on the play that ended with his goal. Nagbe had a solid passing game as usual, connecting all of his 40 passes, but his presence alone didn’t make the Black & Gold offensively stronger. Zelarayan managed to impact the game a little bit more on that front but showed clear signs he still needs a couple more matches to return to his best form.

Cadden should start against D.C.

With a quick turnaround for another road match against D.C. United on Wednesday, Porter might make several changes to the starting lineup and right back Chris Cadden is almost guaranteed a start in the country’s capital, as Harrison Afful will be suspended due to yellow card accumulation.

Signed in the middle of last season but not arriving until this year, the Scottish player has played in seven matches for Columbus in 2020 with two starts. He registered his only assist to date in one of those starts, a 2-0 victory against the New York Red Bulls during the MLS is Back Tournament in Orlando, and fans in Columbus have been clamoring to see more from the outside back.