Before the season Crew SC thought they would have an easy road match when traveling to Houston on Saturday; it turns out the Dynamo will be a tougher opponent than anticipated.
Columbus Crew SC will travel to Houston for a night match against the Dynamo, with kick-off at 8:30 E.T Saturday evening. Both teams finished near the bottom of their respective conferences in 2016 with the Dynamo finishing as the second worst team in the MLS. However, both squads entered 2017 with renewed hope as the teams were flooded with talented additions.
Columbus Crew SC had five players make their MLS debut in their opening match against the Chicago Fire, which ended in a 1-1 draw at Mapfre Stadium. “We were able to create a lot of chances” said Mohammed Abu, the Ghanan midfielder who made his MLS debut on Saturday. Despite the debut’s, It was the veterans of Crew SC that led the team on matchday one as Ethan Finlay (goal) and Justin Meram (assist) had strong showings versus the Fire. Overall Columbus was disappointed in its first showing of the season as indicated by manager Gregg Berhalter “We’re going to have to improve in some areas and look to get some wins”.
“Starting with a win over the reigning champion to start the 2017 season is always positive” said new manager Wilmer Cabrera about the Houston Dynamo’s impressive 2-1 victory over the defending champions Seattle. The new Honduran addition Romell Quioto scored in his first game in MLS and Mexican Erick “Cubo” Torres finally scored in a Dynamo jersey after being held goalless in his first two seasons in Houston. Wilmer Cabrera seems to have energized the Dynamo for the 2017 season, at least initially, “It’s not going to be easy” said Cabrera when talking about the 33 remaining games on the Dynamo schedule as they look to advance to the Playoffs for the first time since 2013.
“Overall I think it’s a good group” said Crew SC manager Gregg Berhalter when talking about the new-look Dynamo, “They want to counter-attack, they want to put us in a position where we feel comfortable and then exploit that”. The 4-3-3 counter attacking formation is what the Dynamo will trot out versus Crew SC and Columbus will have to smartly move up the field while avoiding putting the back line in compromising positions. A lot of the pressure will fall on Crew SC keeper Zack Steffen who at 21 will be tested with quick counter-attacks and potential one-on-ones. Harrison Afful is considered by many to be the best RB in MLS and will have to avoid being sucked into the offense leaving his young keeper and CB’s exposed against the dangerous Dynamo attack.
The pressing style of Houston works great against the work up from the back style of Crew SC, and it seems to be a bad matchup on paper for Columbus. The backline of Columbus can’t afford any costly mistakes or Houston will bury multiple goals in Columbus’s net. Road games in the MLS are tough to win, and the Dynamo are a much improved team. If Gregg Berhalter’s squad can find three points on the road it can change the dynamic of this opening month moving forward. Yet Crew SC should be happy if they can walk out of BBVA Compass Stadium with any points on Saturday night because this season, Houston is the real deal.
WHERE/WHEN TO WATCH: 8:30pm E.T. TV: MLS Live, CW Columbus, Spectrum Sports OH.
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