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Pre-Match: Houston Dynamo vs Columbus Crew #SC

Tyler Deric makes a save against the Seattle Sounders in 2017. Photo by Nigel Brooks

After beating the champions last week, there was only one thing on fans’ minds: should we save up for travel expenses to MLS Cup or tailgating for MLS Cup?

The answer, of course, is we have to defeat Columbus Crew SC before thinking about that. Oh and the other 32 games between now and the playoffs. Plus the 4 or 5 games of said playoffs too.

In the meantime, let’s get down to business.

Like the Dynamo, Columbus had a 2016 to forget. After performing very well in ’15, they were hoping to build off of their MLS Cup defeat and get back to the championship match. Instead everything fell apart, most spectacularly when Kai Kamara and Federico Higuaín got into a heated argument over a penalty kick and continued long after the game. It forced the departure of Kamara to Boston where he has been so-so. Fortunately for the Crew, they had Nigerian striker Ola Kamara waiting in the wings. He came in and scored a hat trick almost immediately and kept the scoring up, finishing 2016 with 16 goals.

Another key player is Iraqi International Justin Meram. He too had a disappointing 2016 season and is looking to rebound. So far so good as had the assist in a draw against the Chicago Fire. His service into the box will be key for the Crew’s offense. If he can be isolated and prevented from sending the ball towards Kamara, it’d go a long way towards neutering their offense.

Truly, though, the Crew SC (very important to use the SC or we get a memo from MLS HQ) play very much like the Sounders with a key differen e: the wide game. Whereas the Sounders were great up the middle and good out wide, mainly due to injurirs, the Crew SC are fantastic out wide. Their fullbacks are zome of the best in the league when going forward. They also have the advantage of not being surprised by the pressure Houston’s front three can exert.

Romel Quioto and Alberth Elis did a really good job offensively but were poor, especially the latter, in tracking back. This is part of the reason why Seattle dominated the second half. With Harrison Afful and Waylon Francis bombing up the wings, the defense can get overloaded fast. This game will likely come down to who can control the flanks more. The key difference between the tactics is the Dynamo wont be looking to hold the ball while Columbus will want to. If the defense can force them into mistimed passes or to hold onto the ball too long, their defense is vulnerable to the pace of the Hondurans.

If Meram and Ethan Finlay can pass intelligently, however, itll be a long night for Wilmer Cabrera’s side.

On the bright side, the matchup between Higuain and Juan Cabezas should be fun. Crafty skills versus physicality can go so right or horribly wrong. Seeing as we are optimists around these parts, Cabezas willl have a great game and keep Federico mostly quiet.

In otder to matchup better against the Crew SC, expect Cabrera to make subtle tactical adjustments and he will be rewarded with another 2 – 1 win, though this one will be a come-from-behind as Kamara gets their lone goal. Erick Torres and Ricardo Clark get Houston’s.

Feeling confident ahead of the game? Think Houston can pull off the impossible and string two wins together? Already putting money aside for MlS Cup? Whatever hour thoughts, leave them in the comments section or hit us up on Twitter and Facebook at KeeperNotes.

 

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