The Columbus Crew return home on Wednesday night, hoping to put a quick end to their recent two-game losing streak. The Crew host Chivas USA at 7:30 as they try to play their way back into a playoff position.
Columbus last played on Saturday night in New York, losing 3-1 to the Red Bulls. Federico Higuain did not start due to a toe contusion, and goalie Andy Gruenebaum had to leave the game early after hitting his face against the post while diving to make a save. Both should be ready to start tonight.
The loss dropped the Crew to 42 points (12-10-6) and out of the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. With a win against Chivas, Columbus can move into the fifth and final spot for the time being.
Chivas USA are all but out of the playoff picture already. Through 27 games, the Goats are tied for last place in the West with only 28 points (7-13-7). Chivas have only scored 21 goals in 2012, easily the worst in MLS. Their last game on Saturday was a 2-0 home loss to the San Jose Earthquakes, increasing their winless streak to seven games.
The Crew’s offense should be revitalized with the reinsertion of Higuain in the starting XI. He is currently the only player on the roster that fans feel can always produce something magical when necessary. Columbus’ defense of late has been rather lackluster, giving up a total of five goals over the past two games. Captain Chad Marshall has been mistake prone, floundering with long balls that he used to easily handle.
While Chivas’ offense has struggled all season long, they are not lacking in creative attack-minded players. Youngster Juan Agudelo and classy veteran Juan Pablo Angel could possibly start together up top, while Nick LaBrocca and Miller Bolaños are big threats on the wings.
Prediction: Crew 2-1 Chivas
Columbus desperately needs points with only six games remaining during the regular season. Chivas is arguably the worst team they will face until the season finale against Toronto. Anything but three home points on Wednesday will be a huge disaster for the Crew.