MLS Preview and Prediction: Columbus Crew vs Portland Timbers

Competition: Major League Soccer – Columbus Crew vs. Portland Timbers
Venue: MAPFRE Stadium – Saturday, March 25 – 19:30 ET (23:30 GMT) 
Match Odds: Columbus 21/20 – Draw 5/2 – Portland 23/10

Match Preview

Columbus Crew welcome Portland Timbers to MAPFRE Stadium on Saturday night for the first time since the 2015 MLS Cup Final in which the visitors left Ohio with the title.

The Crew will be out for revenge this time around as they look to make it back-to-back wins after getting off the mark for the season in last weekend’s 2-0 victory over DC United.

Gregg Berhalter used three at the back in that win and he is likely to stick with the system in the hope the wing-backs can keep Portland pinned back in their own half.

Embed from Getty Images

On paper, this is set to be a really tough game for the Crew but the Timbers have a number of key absentees, giving the hosts a great chance of picking up three important points in front of their own fans.

Portland have looked unstoppable going forward through the first three weeks of the season, winning all three games to start the season and scoring 10 goals in the process.

They have bounced back well after a disappointing campaign last year and Caleb Porter will be aiming at winning another MLS Cup title come December. There’s a long way to go but the Timbers have everything in place to go and challenge across the board this season.

They will have to try and get the job done this weekend without Darlington Nagbe and David Guzman, who are both away on international duty, while center-back Liam Ridgewell is still out due to injury.

That leaves the away side significantly weaker but they still have the firepower of Fanendo Adi, Diego Valeri and Sebastian Blanco and that trio will look to hurt Columbus, especially if they opt to go with a three-man defence again.

These sides met once last season at Providence Park back on the opening day of the campaign with Portland winning 2-1. The Timbers have now won three-straight games against the Crew, including that MLS Cup final victory.

Embed from Getty Images

Team News

Columbus remain without Gaston Sauro, who is ruled out for the season, as well as Dilly Duka who is struggling with a calf contusion. Waylon Francis is a doubt once again and Jukka Raitala is away on international duty with Finland.

Portland will travel to Columbus without Darlington Nagbe and David Guzman, who are both away on international duty, while Liam Ridgewell is still out and Gbenga Arokoyo is sidelined for the season. Vytas is a doubt but could start at left-back if passed fit in time.

Key Points

Columbus Crew’s form: D/L/W

Portland Timbers’ form: W/W/W

Key Stat: The Timbers have won three-straight games against the Crew and have not lost to their opponents since July 2013.

Key Player: Diego Valeri – Despite the absences of some key men, Portland still have their star man available and in red hot form. Valeri has started the season with four goals and two assists and is looking dangerous everytime he gets on the ball. If Columbus fail to contain him, they could be in for a long evening.

Score Prediction

Columbus Crew 2-2 Portland Timbers – Goals are expected here between two sides that will believe they can get all three points on Saturday night. Columbus are the home side and looking to make it back-to-back wins. They should take advantage of some key absences for Portland but will likely struggle to contain the likes of Valeri and Adi in what should be an open and exciting game. Score draw.

 

Advertisements

MLS Preview and Prediction: New York Red Bulls vs Columbus Crew

Competition: Major League Soccer – New York Red Bulls vs. Columbus Crew

Venue: Red Bull Arena –Sunday, October 16 – 15:00 ET (20:00 BST)

Match Odds: NY Red Bulls 4/9 – Draw 16/5 – Columbus 11/2

Match Preview

New York Red Bulls play host to Columbus Crew on Sunday afternoon in the penultimate round of MLS regular season fixtures.

The Red Bulls are in contention to win the Eastern Conference, but are level on points with rivals NYCFC, so their remaining two games are huge.

New York come into this tie having overcome Philadelphia in an exhilarating 3-2 home win. Their form at Red Bull Arena has been nothing short of incredible, 11 wins from 13 games.

This is a game Jesse Marsch will be expecting his side to win, but he will have his players warned that any previous result means nothing once the game gets underway.

Embed from Getty Images

Columbus Crew are in 8th place, six points behind the top six and this looks like a season of disappointment for their fans.

Crew have won just twice and only picked up ten points on the road this season. That has all-but ultimately cost them throughout the regular season and they will need to rebuild and go again in the 2017 campaign.

This season has been a far cry from Crew’s 2015 campaign but they still have a huge part to play in the final standings of the 2016 season and they will have the backing of plenty of RBNY’s rivals.

Photo: @ColumbusCrewSC

Photo: @ColumbusCrewSC

Team News

New York Red Bulls still have an extensive injury list as Gideon Baah, Connor Lade, Ronald Zubar, Justin Bilyeu and Daniel Royer are all expected to miss out, while Omer Damari could feature.

Columbus Crew haven’t had much luck with injuries either, as Matt Pacifici, Ben Swanson, Cedrick Mabwati, Tyson Wahl, Waylon Francis are all out, while Federico Higuain and Conor Casey are both doubts

Key Points

NY Red Bulls’ last five: W/D/D/W/W

Columbus Crew’s last five: W/W/L/W/D

Key Stat: New York Red Bulls are on an unbeaten run of 14 regular season games.

Key Player: Bradley Wright-Phillips – The RBNY striker has netted 21 goals this season, the same number as Villa from rivals NYCFC. He will be pushing to top the chart come the end of the campaign.

MLS: New York Red Bulls vs. New York City FC - Bradley Wright-Phillips Celebrates

Score Prediction

New York Red Bulls 2-1 Columbus Crew – Red Bulls to continue their impressive home form and pick up another three points. Marsch knows all his side can do is win their remaining two games and they can finish the regular season top of the Eastern Conference.

MLS Preview and Prediction: LA Galaxy vs Columbus Crew

Competition: Major League Soccer – LA Galaxy vs. Columbus Crew

Venue: StubHub Center – Saturday, September 3 – 22:30 ET (03:30 BST) 

Match Odds: LA Galaxy 3/4 – Draw 13/5 – Columbus Crew 100/30

Match Preview

LA Galaxy host Columbus Crew on Saturday night in a battle between two sides that need to get a result without a number of first-team regulars.

The Galaxy are in a poor run of form, going winless through their last six games. They’ve drawn five of those, playing out a 0-0 draw with Vancouver last Saturday.

Bruce Arena has lost Gyasi Zardes for the season and won’t be able to call upon the services of Robbie Keane or Steven Gerrard this weekend, so squad depth is really being tested.

Embed from Getty Images

LA are eight points behind FC Dallas at the top of the West but do have a game in hand, so a win this weekend would give them a real boost.

Columbus have had a terrible season to this point. It’s incredible to think that virtually the same group of players reached the MLS Cup final last term.

The Crew do come into this one on a high after ended their seven-game home winless streak with a 2-0 win over San Jose last weekend. Justin Meram scored one and assisted the other in that victory but he is away on international duty this week.

Photo: @ColumbusCrewSC

Photo: @ColumbusCrewSC

Columbus are six points off the playoff places in the East and need to rally if they are to make the postseason. But they have the second-worst away form in MLS this term, so taking anything away from StubHub on Saturday would have to be seen as a great result.

Last season’s only meeting ended in a 1-1 draw in Columbus. LA Galaxy have won five of the last eight meetings between the teams, with two draws. The only win for the Black and Yellow in that time came two years ago.

Team News

LA Galaxy will be without defender Jelle Van Damme as he is sidelined with a knee sprain, while Gyasi Zardes is out for the season with a broken metatarsal. Steven Gerrard is also sidelined as he is struggling with a hamstring problem. Robbie Keane played his final Republic of Ireland friendly on Wednesday and is unlikely to be back in time to play on Saturday night.

Columbus Crew have a long injury list to worry about with Matt Pacifici and Ben Swanson both ruled out, while Gaston Sauro, Waylon Francis, Wil Trapp and Conor Casey are all doubts. On top of that, Tony Tchani, Harrison Afful, Justin Meram and Rodrigo Saravia are all away on international duty.

Key Points

LA Galaxy’s last five: D/D/L/D/D

Columbus Crew’s last five: L/D/W/L/W

Key Stat: LA Galaxy is unbeaten in five-straight home games against Columbus. The Crew have not won away at Saturday’s opponents since June 2007.

Key Player: Giovani Dos Santos – LA have a number of key men out so the pressure will be on Giovani Dos Santos to deliver for the home side here. He only has two goals in his last ten MLS games so he needs to start producing more regularly if LA are to make a surge for the Western Conference title over the final few weeks.

Giovani dos Santos, MLS: NYCFC vs. LA Galaxy

Score Prediction

LA Galaxy 1-1 Columbus Crew – Both sides are very far from being full strength as a result of injuries and international call-ups so this is a tough one to call. LA Galaxy are strong at home and still haven’t lost at home all season. That’s unlikely to change against a Crew side that has only won one of their 11 away games this term. Score draw.

Getting Stuck In: Parity never felt so good

A rain delay. No umbrella. A soggy bottom. All saturated highlights of my latest waterlogged visit to Mapfre Stadium, where leaky defending has become the norm for Crew SC.

As I sat watching NYCFC stars Villa, Lampard and Pirlo play against Crew SC, I thought to myself: “How the hell did the Crew go from MLS Cup runner-ups, to second from bottom in the East with basically the same team?” Then I followed it up with: “How did NYCFC go from missing the playoffs by 12 points and being tied for the most goals allowed in the league, to top of the East this year with basically the same team?”

On the surface you could say the Crew losing Kei Kamara in May was a huge blow, but they stunk before he left so that can’t be an excuse for the fact they have only won two league game since May. And what about Portland? They win the Cup last year and with the same team are barely holding onto their playoff hopes in the West.

Embed from Getty Images

I posed the why-do-the-Crew-stink question to my 12-old son Ezra as we sat on the cold, wet benches of Mapfre during the NYCFC match. He looked up from his iPhone after finding a Pokestop and said: “Maybe it’s our new uniforms… last year’s were better.” Not very scientific, but he was onto something. One little change can make all the difference in MLS.

There is a randomness to Major League Soccer: One year a team is good and the next they suck unless you are the LA Galaxy. In 2008, the Red Bulls lost MLS Cup to the Crew (who missed the playoffs the previous season) and the following season plummeted to last place, registering a franchise-worst five wins. It would be like Chelsea getting into the top four one year and then getting relegated the next. It’s never going to happen. And how do you explain the 1998 season? Yes, MLS was in its infancy and still had whacky rules like getting a point for a shootout loss, but a first year expansion team winning MLS Cup (Chicago Fire)? Crazy town!

MLS is a unique league and willing to experiment – thank God they got rid of the shootout. But what makes it a soccer league with no rival is team parity. This means pretty much every team in the league can go from bottom dwellers to penthouse champagne sippers in one season.

In other countries it’s a foregone conclusion who wins the league. Supporters of small market teams like Real Salt Lake, Columbus Crew SC and Sporting Kansas City – all MLS Cup winners – feel like they have a chance to win the Cup every year. In MLS’ first 20 seasons, ten different teams have won MLS Cup.

Embed from Getty Images

That’s variety and a huge percentage when compared to the Premier League over the same period: Five different winners with Manchester United’s 10 titles leading the way. In La Liga, only four teams have won the title with Barcelona snatching 10 over the last 20 years. Forget about the Bundesliga – Bayern Munich has won 13 titles in the last 20 season, which is pretty boring for the other sides.

The NFL, one of the most popular leagues in the world thrives on parity. Over the past 20 season, ten different teams have won the Super Bowl. Like MLS, the NFL is hugely successful because every market has a chance. Last year the Jacksonville Jaguars won five of their 16 games and are now tipped to make the playoffs this year.

It will take a long time for MLS to reach the heights of the NFL. Single entity, salary cap, the college draft, Designated Players and rapid expansion have all contributed to competitive balance in MLS. Detractors say rapid expansion is diluting the talent pool – the level of defenders is shockingly poor in some teams – and it’s starting to feel like the rich are getting richer (see NYCFC and LA Galaxy). But when a second-to-last place team like Seattle can sign a player like Nicolas Lodeiro midseason, win three and draw two with him in the lineup to catapult themselves into playoff contention, MLS is doing something right. No other league in the world can make a change midseason that changes the fortunes of a team that quickly.

Seattle Sounders vs Real Salt Lake - Nicolas Lodeiro Celebrates

Fragile? Yes, maybe the rosters are thin and maybe it’s a little embarrassing that one major move can impact a team, but who cares. I bet the caffeinated crazies up in Seattle are happy that MLS is so topsy-turvy.

So as the Crew-NYCFC game winds down, with Columbus down 3-2 in the 95th minute, I nudge my son and point to the 2008 MLS Cup banner and say, “Do you think we’ll ever win another one?” As my son opens his mouth to bestow some wisdom, Ethan Finlay slams home the equalizer at the end of stoppage time to send our soggy bottoms bolting from our seats. I hug my son like a squishy sponge and yell, “we’re back!”

Suddenly a team with only three wins all season has life and the playoff hopes are still alive. It’s so MLS.

MLS Preview and Prediction: Columbus Crew vs Toronto FC

Competition: Major League Soccer – Columbus Crew SC vs. Toronto FC

Venue: Mapfre Stadium – Wednesday, July 13 – 19:00 ET (00:00 BST) 

Match Odds: Columbus 19/20 – Draw 5/2 – Toronto 14/5

Match Preview

Columbus Crew welcome Trillium Cup rivals Toronto FC to Mapfre Stadium on Wednesday evening for a key midweek Eastern Conference battle.

The Crew come into the game in terrible form. They sit ninth in the East, six points off the playoffs and need to pick up over their final 17 games to have a chance of making the playoffs.

They enter Wednesday’s match off the back of Saturday’s 3-1 loss to New England and have now gone five games without a win, losing three of them.

Embed from Getty Images

Gregg Berhalter knows his side stand a better chance of earning victory at home, with the Crew currently unbeaten in six in front of their own fans. But he is under pressure to get his side on song and failure to win on Wednesday would leave Columbus with an ever-bigger mountain to climb.

Toronto are in a better position than the Crew to push on and challenge at the top end of the Eastern Conference, but need to make improvements themselves too.

Their 1-0 win against Chicago on Saturday was their first in three and helped them up to fifth place but they must work on being more consistent.

Embed from Getty Images

The Reds have only won back-to-back games on one occasion this season and that came back in April so Greg Vanney’s men must pick up wins on a more regular basis if they are to guarantee a better end to the term than last year’s sixth-placed finish.

This is the ninth season that these two rivals have battled for the Trillium Cup series. The Crew hold the advantage, having won the series in six of the past eight seasons, and are currently on a four-game unbeaten run against the Reds.

Embed from Getty Images

Team News

Columbus will remain without Matt Pacifici, Gaston Sauro and Federico Higuain, while Connor Casey and Cedrick Mabwati are both still doubts. Tyson Wahl will return to the squad after serving his one-game suspension on Saturday and may come in for Chad Barson at the back.

Toronto FC still have six injury worries heading into Wednesday’s match. Jozy Altidore, Michael Bradley, Daniel Lovitz, Ashtone Morgan, Clint Irwin and Will Johnson all remain sidelined. Jordan Hamilton is likely to lineup alongside Sebastian Giovinco once again in attack.

Key Points

Columbus Crew’s last five: L/D/D/L/L

Toronto’s last five: L/W/L/D/W

Key Stat: Columbus are unbeaten in their last seven home matches in MLS (W3 D4).

Key Player: Ola Kamara – The Crew forward has adapted well to life in Columbus this season, scoring eight goals in just seven starts. He has four in his last three and is always a threat, regardless of how well his teammates play. The Crew have not lost at home when he has played this season and he’ll want that record to continue after Wednesday’s game.

Ola Kamara Columbus Crew

Score Prediction

Columbus Crew 1-1 Toronto FC – A close-fought battle is expected on Wednesday between these Eastern Conference rivals. Toronto are the team in better form but they have struggled against Columbus in recent times, and the hosts are a more solid outfit at home than on the road. They drew 0-0 in the reverse fixture back in May and another draw could be on the cards here.

MLS Preview and Prediction: Toronto FC vs Columbus Crew

Competition: Major League Soccer – Toronto FC vs. Columbus Crew

Venue: BMO Field – Saturday, May 21 – 19:30 ET (00:30 BST)

Match Odds: Toronto FC 19/20 – Draw  5/2 – Columbus Crew 14/5

Match Preview

Toronto FC welcome Columbus Crew to BMO Field on Saturday evening for the latest instalment of the Trillium Cup series.

The home side come into this tie off the back of their 1-1 draw against New York City FC. The Toronto faithful would have been hoping for a win but it was a good result as their side had to come from behind for a share of the points.

This was a missed chance for Greg Vanney’s side, who would have gone top of the Eastern Conference with a win. Toronto currently sit fourth, trailing top spot by two points.

Toronto need to take a win from this game to end their run of four consecutive outings at home with a respectable points tally. They have taken four points from three games so far, so seven from four matches would be a solid return.

Toronto Celebrate New York Red Bulls

Columbus Crew come into this one off the back of their 1-1 tie with Colorado, their second consecutive draw.

Crew have been on a far better run of form recently, only losing one of their last five, winning two and drawing two. They have built up momentum to push their way up table but know this is going to be a tough tie, especially considering they have failed to win in their last seven away games.

Columbus sit 9th in the East, seven points off top spot and three outside of the playoffs. They need to continue their run of form and push into the top six, the very least that would have been expected of them at the start of the season given the strength of their 2015 campaign.

Seattle Sounders vs Columbus Crew

Team News

Toronto FC are missing four players for the visit through injury. Benoit Cheyrou, Marky Delgado, Jonathan Osorio and Jozy Altidore are all out.

Columbus Crew have just two injury concerns ahead of this one as Chad Barson is out, while Tony Tchani is a doubt.

Key Points

Toronto FC’s last five: W/L/W/L/D

Columbus Crew’s last five: W/W/L/D/D

Key Stat: Columbus were unbeaten in all three Trillium Cup meetings last season, winning two and drawing one and lead the all-time series with six wins to two. The Crew fans will be hoping their side can recreate the form they showed in the 2015 campaign and take a positive result in this one.

Key Player: Sebastian Giovinco – The Toronto frontman has netted eight goals and racked up five assists so far this season. If he is on form here he could prove to be the difference for the home side once again.

Sebastian Giovinco Toronto FC 2016

Score Prediction

Toronto FC 2-1 Columbus Crew – Toronto to peg another win back on Columbus in the Trillium Cup series and get back to winning ways here. Columbus have been in a great run of form but this tie will be a huge challenge and their struggles on the road will continue.

Kei Kamara joins New England in record trade to end dramatic week for Columbus

Kei Kamara has left the Columbus Crew following a highly dramatic week after being traded to New England Revolution just minutes after the MLS primary transfer window closed on Wednesday night.

The Revolution have reportedly sent Columbus a record amount of allocation money in the trade – believed to be in excess of $300,000 – as well as an international roster spot for the current season, New England’s highest SuperDraft pick for 2017 and a second round pick for 2018.

Kamara, who ended last season as the joint-highest scorer in MLS with 22 goals, was involved in a very public spat with teammate Federico Higuain in last Saturday’s 4-4 home against Montreal Impact, in which both players scored twice.

The Crew earned a penalty kick in the 51st minute with the score at 3-1. Kamara wanted to take the penalty as he was set for a first career hat-trick but Higuain instead put the ball into the net to make it 4-1, before the Crew collapsed to allow Montreal back into the game.

Kamara laid into his teammate after the game, labelling Higuain as “selfish” as well as questioning the club’s team spirit.

“You have two goals, you’re going for a hat-trick, a player that’s never scored a hat-trick in their career,” Kamara told local TV after the game. “What do you do? Do you give it to him or do you take it? That’s selfishness. That’s not a teammate. That’s selfishness.

“We scored a lot of goals, but there was no team play and that completely explains the way me and Federico behaved on the penalty kick. A team who stays together will win games. A team that doesn’t, not gonna win games. And that’s horrible.”

Embed from Getty Images

Kamara was subsequently suspended for this weekend’s game against Colorado but he showed no regret for his comments following that decision when speaking on Tuesday.

“[Coach Gregg Berhalter] told me that this morning, and obviously I didn’t agree to it all,” the Sierra Leonean forward said. “I won’t agree to it. But he’s the boss, and if he says, ‘We don’t need you for the weekend. You’re going to have to sit out for the weekend,’ there’s nothing I can do about that.”

With tensions reaching boiling point, Columbus took the decision to trade their star striker late on Wednesday, with both the Crew and New England officially announcing the deal on Thursday morning.

Columbus won’t be able to replace the 31-year-old goalscorer until the summer transfer window opens on July 4, but they do now have a Designated Player slot available, as well as a healthy sum of allocation money to invest.

Kamara penned a DP contract with Columbus this offseason, just one year after returning to MLS from Middlesbrough and will now become New England’s second DP, joining defender Jose Goncalves.

The Revolution have struggled for goals so far this term, averaging just 1.18 per game – the sixth-worst return in the league so far – so Kamara’s arrival will undoubtedly give the club a boost.

Embed from Getty Images

“We have been looking to strengthen our team and we feel that this addition accomplishes just that,” Revolution General Manager Michael Burns said in a club statement. “Kei is a player who has had success and is a proven goal scorer in MLS. We’re pleased we were able to get this deal done and look forward to Kei’s arrival and integration into the team.”

Kamara will now join his seventh team in ten years and his fifth MLS side, having played for Columbus, San Jose, Houston and Sporting Kansas City before then returning to the Crew ahead of the 2015 season.

He has scored a total of 79 goals in 234 MLS appearances and is the league’s second-highest active goalscorer among current MLS players, trailing only San Jose’s Chris Wondolowski, who has 116 goals.

Kamara could make his Revs debut in Saturday’s game against Chicago Fire at Gillette Stadium and could face the Crew three times during the regular season, at home on July 9 and August 20 before a trip to MAPFRE Stadium on September 25.

What do you make of Columbus Crew’s decision to trade Kei Kamara to the New England Revolution?

MLS Preview and Prediction: Columbus Crew vs Montreal Impact

Competition: Major League Soccer – Columbus Crew vs. Montreal Impact 

Venue: MAPFRE Stadium – Saturday, May 7 – 19:30 EST (00:30 GMT)

Match Odds: Columbus Crew 5/6 – Draw 13/5 – Montreal Impact 16/5

Match Preview

Columbus Crew welcome high-flying Montreal Impact to MAPFRE Stadium on Saturday evening in a game which has plenty to offer.

Crew are still struggling in games and sit 9th in the Eastern Conference as a result. Not many would have predicted this sort of season for them and they need to work on turning things around.

Gregg Berhaulter’s side come into this one off the back of their 1-0 loss against Seattle, which ended their two game winning streak, their only two wins of the season so far.

Scoring has been a problem for Crew who have netted just seven goals in their eight games. In their three home outings they have won twice, so it appears that home form would be their best chance of pusing their way up the table.

Seattle Sounders vs Columbus Crew

Montreal Impact are sitting top of the Eastern Conference and are mounting a solid challenge for the Supporters’ Shield. Impact have already beaten Columbus Crew earlier this season, a 2-0 victory at home.

There is a little room for improvement for Mauro Biello’s team, who come into this one off the back of their 2-2 draw against Colorado.

Impact were in a winning position in the game against Colorado so will be ruing a missed chance to get back to winning ways. They are now winless in three (D2, L1)

MLS: New York City FC vs. Montreal Impact

Team News

Columbus Crew have two injury concerns, Gaston Sauro and Mohammed Saeid are doubts.

Montreal Impact have five players carrying injuries. Andres Romero, Cameron Porter, Donny Toia, Anthony Jackson-Hamel and Hassoun Camara are all expected to be out.

Key Points

Columbus Crew’s last five: D/L/W/W/L

Montreal Impact’s last five: W/W/L/D/D

Key Stat: Columbus have only lost once in seven all-time MLS home meetings against Montreal.

Key Player: Ignacio Piatti – The Montreal playmaker will be looking to breakdown the Crew defence who despite their lowly position in the league have only conceded ten goals.

MLS: New York City FC vs. Montreal Impact Ignacio Piatti

Score Prediction

Columbus Crew 1-2 Montreal Impact – Montreal to get back to winning ways and inflict more misery on Columbus.

Gallery: Exclusive photos from Seattle Sounders’ win against Columbus Crew

The Seattle Sounders continued their recovery with a third consecutive home win on Saturday night as Jordan Morris netted his third in as many games to seal a late 1-0 victory over the Columbus Crew.

Seattle bounced back from last week’s 3-1 loss in Colorado by keeping their second clean sheet of the season to take three huge points from Columbus on Saturday.

They had to weather the storm as the Crew dominated the play in the first half. But it was Jordan Morris’s predatory instincts in the closing minutes that shone through for the Sounders as they moved up to eighth in the Western Conference.

Columbus can’t seem to build any momentum and sit ninth in the East after eight games and have yet to win away from home.

Check out exclusive photos from Saturday’s game below, courtesy of MLSGB photographer Denise McCooey.

Seattle Sounders vs Columbus Crew Jordan Morris Seattle Sounders vs Columbus Crew Seattle Sounders vs Columbus Crew Seattle Sounders vs Columbus Crew Dempsey Seattle Sounders vs Columbus Crew Seattle Sounders vs Columbus Crew Jordan Morris

MLS Preview and Prediction: Columbus Crew vs Houston Dynamo

Competition: Major League Soccer – Columbus Crew vs. Houston Dynamo

Venue: MAPFRE Stadium – Saturday, April 23 – 19:30 ET (00:30 BST) 

Match Odds: Columbus 4/5 – Draw 13/5 – Houston 100/30

Match Preview

Columbus Crew host Houston Dynamo is a clash between two sides desperate for points as they look to climb their respective conferences on Saturday night.

Columbus picked up their first win of the season in the 3-2 home victory against New York City last weekend, ending a run of five games without success to start the campaign.

Gregg Berhalter will be delighted to have seen his side seal three points and will see Saturday’s game as the perfect opportunity to make it two on the bounce. The Crew sit ninth heading into the weekend and need to start climbing the table quickly.

Embed from Getty Images

Houston aren’t faring much better themselves over in the West. Owen Coyle’s men have picked up the same amount of points as Columbus (5) after six games, but currently sit bottom of the Western Conference.

Last week’s 4-1 home defeat to LA Galaxy will have left supporters disappointed, particularly after the Dynamo took the lead inside 60 seconds. An improved performance this week is crucial to prevent panic setting in.

Embed from Getty Images

Houston have a poor record away in Columbus, having not won in eight attempts, and will need to be at their best to stand a chance of leaving with all three points this weekend.

These two sides met once last year, with Houston coming out on top in a 1-0 win at BBVA Compass Stadium in March. However, the Dynamo have not scored in their last two visits to MAPFRE Stadium.

Team News

Columbus will be without Gaston Sauro as he is still out with a hamstring injury, while Tony Tchani and Corey Ashe are doubts.

Houston have just one injury concern heading into the weekend as Rob Lovejoy is a doubt with a hamstring strain. Owen Coyle is expected to make changes to the side that lost 4-1 to LA Galaxy last time out.

Key Points

Columbus Crew’s last five: L/D/D/L/W

Houston Dynamo’s last five: W/L/L/D/L

Key Stat: Columbus have only lost one of ten home meetings against Houston in MLS, with that defeat coming in 2007.

Key Player: Ethan Finlay – The Columbus winger had his best game of the season last weekend as he tallied a goal and an assist in the 3-2 win over New York City. If he can build on that display, he’ll cause the Dynamo all kinds of problems.

Embed from Getty Images

Score Prediction

Columbus Crew 2-1 Houston Dynamo – Columbus might have had to wait six weeks to get their first win of 2016, but they should now follow it up with another home victory on Saturday. Houston have struggled so far, having not won in four, and don’t look set to trouble the Crew enough to seal three points here. Home win.