After two somewhat lifeless performances from Columbus, the team will have to try to sway their current streak to a positive result against a Houston Dynamo team that has played well on the road so far this year.
Saturday’s game, starting at 7:30, will be the first night game at Crew Stadium this year. Columbus is currently 2-3-0 this year (six points) and are in the midst of a two-game loosing streak. Meanwhile, the Houston Dynamo, playing their first seven games on the road as they wait for the completion of the new BBVA Compass Stadium, are 2-1-1 (seven points).
The Crew’s game last weekend against the Philadelphia Union was doomed from the start. First, the bus full of supporters had to return to Columbus after a huge bird hit the windshield. Then, defender Eric Gehrig was called for a hand ball in the 38th minute, and Columbus returned home with a 1-0 loss. The Dynamo’s game last Saturday against the Chicago Fire was called after the 65th minute due to lightening. The shortened game ended in a 1-1 tie.
Columbus started with a different forward combination against Philadelphia than what had used the previous three games. Rookie Aaron Schoefeld replaced Emilio Renteria in the starting XI and teamed up with Olman Vargas. The pairing wasn’t that effective, however, as both play the same type of game. After being benched and forced to watch the poor display from the first team for 68 minutes, Renteria started the reserve match and proceeded to score three goals and assist on another in a 4-0 victory. He has most likely earned his starting position back.
However, the Crew have been testing out numerous formations throughout the week in practice. Perhaps Coach Warzycha will opt for a different approach than the 4-4-2. I wouldn’t be opposed to seeing Milovan Mirosevic start as a withdrawn forward, a la Guillermo Barros Schelotto. Mirosevic has a great goal-scoring record, and he can strike the ball great from distance. His offensive powers are slightly being wasted in the center of midfield, as he is having to track back on defense more than attack on offense.
At the back, Chad Marshall may have a new partner in the center of defense. Eric Gehrig has played the previous three games to varying results after Danny O’Rourke started the first two games. O’Rourke is listed as questionable. Carlos Mendes has an even better chance at making his first appearance for the Crew, as his hamstring injury is now listed as probable.
After coming on as a sub for Shaun Francis against Philadelphia and proving himself rather well, Nemanja Vukovic could possibly start at left back instead of the Jamaican. Francis has been steadier after a few so-so performances, so Vukovic will more than likely come on in the second half again if the Crew are down.
For Houston, midfielder Brad Davis is out after picking up a calf strain in their third game. Davis has had 40 assists over the past three years. Columbus won’t have to worry about his dangerous left foot on free kicks, but they will still have to worry about the Dynamo’s height advantage in the box.
Prediction: Crew 0-0 Houston
Everyone’s favorite game: the 0-0 tie. I don’t see a winner coming out of this one, unless Columbus greatly improves from their previous performance or continues to get even worse. Both teams’ offensive power is nothing to write home about, while the respective defenses are both relatively solid. Houston has only scored three times this year, while also giving up three. Columbus has scored four times and allowed seven goals.