Columbus Crew vs DC United
Columbus Crew - (3-4-2-1) - Eloy Room, Steven Moreira, Philip Quinton, Milos Degenek, Yaw Yeboah, Mohamed Farsi, Aidan Morris, Darlington Nagbe, Alexandru Matan, Lucas Zelarayan, and Cucho Hernandez
Subs - Patrick Schulte, Josh Williams, Keegan Hughes, Gustavo Vallecill, Luis Diaz, Jimmy Mendranda, Kevin Molino, Sean Zawadzki, Isaiah Parente
Captain - Darlington Nagbe
DC United - (4-4-2) - Tyler Miller, Andy Najar, Steve Birnbaum, Derrick Williams, Mo Jeahze, Pedro Santos, Russell Canouse, Mateusz Klich, Chris Durkin, Christian Benteke, Nigel Robertha
Subs - Alex Bono, Matai Akinmboni, Kristen Fletcher, Jackson Hopkins, Ted Ku-DiPietro, Victor Pálsson, Ruan, Gaoussou Samaké
Captain - Steve Birnbaum
Columbus Crew - Wilfried Nancy
DC United - Wayne Rooney
Keys to the Match:
Youth vs Youth - In week one, Wilfried Nancy started 3 of the starters from Columbus’s 2022 MLS Next team, and brought in more off the bench. At the same time, DC United started 16 year old Matai Akinmboni, and brought off the bench 17 year old Kristen Fletcher, 19 year old Jackson Hopkins, and 21 year old Ted Ku-DiPietro. Both managers have shown a readiness to play their young players if they show they are capable of contributing. How their young players step up on Saturday could help determine the outcome of the game.
DC Fitness - Let’s be honest, DC was kind of lucky against Toronto. Full credit for the win, but we aren’t going to come back from a goal down to win in stoppage time every week. So, if Williams is fit and able to start, our defense might hold up a little longer than they did against TOR. Also, whoever starts with Benteke- can they produce?
DP vs DP - Columbus has a pair of the best Designated Players in Lucas Zelarayán and Cucho Hernández
In 2022, Zelarayan scored 10 goals and added 12 assists, while the 23-year-old Colombian Striker, Cucho Hernández, scored 9 goals and 2 assists in 16 MLS appearances. Zelarayán and Hernández have proven to be an effective partnership, and if they can
With Taxi Fuantas out with a hamstring injury, the Black and Red have two talented Designated Players, but both are relatively unproven in the MLS. Christian Benteke has been in MLS longer, having joined DC United last summer, but his impact has been slow to ramp up, having only scored his second goal last week. Mateusz Klich did make an instant impact last week, but it was his first game in MLS. Both DC United Designated Players will look to make an impact this weekend in Columbus.
Things to Watch:
Offense - All three of DC United’s goals came off of strong defensive plays that were immediately flipped into offensive plays that combined quick passes and movement that opened up scoring opportunities. Each goal was preceded by multiple pass combinations that allowed DC United to find space to exploit. This was not a feature of DC United’s attack in 2022. If this type of play can be repeated on the road, than DC United has a chance, and it will go along way to changing the narrative that surrounds the Black and Red.
Defense - The defense in the first week’s match was okay, but there were vulnerabilities that Toronto was able to exploit in the second half. Direct passes by Michael Bradley to speedier players like Akinola and Bernardeschi created a number of chances that on another day might have seen the Reds take an earlier lead. Some of the issues come down to familiarity. Mo Jeahze on a couple occasions was not on the same page with the rest of the line, and held the opponent onside. Similarly both Victor Pálsson and Matai Akinmboni were out of sync closing down opponents, which led to moments of uneven play. It will be interesting to see if there’s any rotation to the starters, and if the play is a bit better organized. Both will play important factors in DC United’s chances in Columbus.
Dan - 1-1; DC falls behind before halftime and is able to put one back in the second half. Probably through a homegrown sub.
Richard - 2-2; A back and forth affair with DC able to get two equalizer goals, the last late in the match to get a hard earned point.
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Written by: Daniel Morris and RJ Rolsen