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.”

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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.

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“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?

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MLS Fantasy Focus: Make the most of the DGW ahead of Round 10

By Jamie Dawe and Sam Martin

The headlines from Round 9 have all been about Kei Kamara and Federico Higuain’s mid-game row. Their exchange of words over a penalty that would have secured Kamara his hat trick – but was eventually taken by Higuain – is a story that has travelled around the world. It marred an incredible eight-goal game, but in this week’s Fantasy Focus, we promise to focus on the football being played, not the spats off the ball!

Round 9 Review 

The Good:

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The MAPFRE Stadium, home to Columbus Crew, undoubtedly provided us with the game of the weekend, where an incredible eight goals were scored in the 4-4 draw between the Crew and Montreal Impact. It had been a disappointing start to the season for Columbus, but two goals from both Kei Kamara ($11.1) and Federico Higuaín ($10.5) put Columbus 4-1 up with just over 30 minutes to play. Remarkably, the Impact came back from the dead to salvage a point thanks to Ignacio Piatti ($10.6), Didier Drogba ($11.8) and a last minute goal from Dominic Oduro ($7.6). We have once again entered the familiar territory of Piatti gaining the most points of any player this week – with an astounding 18! While Montreal may top the Eastern Conference, Colorado Rapids are the shock leaders of the Supporters’ Shield standings, following a 1-0 home victory against an equally impressive Real Salt Lake. Jermaine Jones ($8.2) netted the goal that was the difference between the two sides to earn his side three crucial points and further cement his place as one of the league’s top players even after his unceremonious exit from New England. Robbie Keane ($11.7) may have been sidelined with injuries for most of this campaign, but the Irishman netted a brace in the Galaxy’s fifth win of the campaign, picking up 13 points in his 59 minutes on the field. Furthermore, it couldn’t possibly be a good weekend without Seattle’s Jordan Morris ($8.3) getting a mention. The forward has now scored in four straight matches as Seattle won their fourth-straight home game against San Jose on Saturday.

The Bad:

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The only red card of the weekend was collected by Orlando’s Cristian Higuita ($6.7), who was sent off late on in his side’s 1-1 draw with New York Red Bulls. OCSC are now on a run of five games without a win and with star turns Kaka ($10.8) and Cyle Larin ($9.2) in their side – it is fair to expect more from the men in purple. Meanwhile, Dallas failed to score and lost for the third consecutive outing. It has to be worrying the Texans with forward Maximiliano Urruti ($8.5) needing to regain the form that got him three goals in the opening four MLS games. Portland Timbers’ winless away run continued after defeat at Vancouver, while Sporting Kansas City also suffered a defeat away to Houston Dynamo. SKC are now winless in six after winning four of their opening five. Designated Players Benny Feilhaber ($10.9) and Graham Zusi ($10.1) will be expected to produce their finest form in the coming weeks, starting with this week’s DGW.

Round 10 Preview

Double Gameweek Must-Haves:

Jermaine Jones ($8.2):

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The Rapids are in tremendous form and it was sparked by Jermaine Jones’ entrance to the team. Fresh from his contract dispute with the Revs and his six-match ban for making repeated physical contact with referee Mark Geiger, the fire is very much within Jones’ play. Thrust into a more attacking role, he’s playing as well as he ever has – even at the age of 34.

Andrew Wenger ($7.2):

Houston have finally returned to some sort of form with a win over SKC and Wenger was instrumental in achieving the victory. Fixtures against San Jose and Real Salt Lake aren’t easy – but they’re certainly not the most difficult cards to be dealt at this point in the season. I would be shocked if Wenger didn’t pick up 10 points across the two games this week. If you don’t fancy Wenger, teammate Alex ($6.1) is bound to pick up a solid number of points at a cheap price.

Fanendo Adi ($10.3):

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The pinpoint in the Timbers’ MLS Cup winning attack, Adi is in fine form and with Diego Valeri ($10.5) pulling the strings behind him, he looks set to keep firing in goal after goal. He may be whisked away for international duty with Nigeria in Round 12, but he will be back in a flash – unlike other forward options like Giles Barnes ($8.5) and Chris Wondolowski ($10.7), who will exiting the league for the Copa America Centenario.

Maynor Figueroa ($6.7):

This is a risky one. Dallas may’ve lost three on the trot, but the former Wigan defender has performed solidly throughout and is still garnering plenty of bonus points. If Dallas were to keep a clean sheet in either of their two home games this week against the Sounders or the Timbers, it would be a shame to miss out on almost certain double figures. It’s also hard to ignore that Dallas are the only side to play both their games at home this week and Figueroa represents a solid pick.

Which players will you transfer in for Round 10’s DGW?

MLS Fantasy Focus: Time to invest in Crew attackers for Week 7?

By Jamie Dawe and Sam Martin

Double delirium for the Rapids in Week 6, alongside a duo of poor performances for the Red Bulls made last week a complete reversal of form from the 2015 season. However, FC Dallas have stayed true to last season’s form and top the Supporters’ Shield rankings with 17 points from 8 games, six of which were gained in Week 6 with comfortable wins over SKC and the Timbers. A first goal for Seattle’s Jordan Morris ($8.1) could signal the start of things to come from this much-hyped youngster. Overall, Week 6 was a positive one, with plenty of things to build upon in the coming weeks of the campaign.

Week 6 Review

The Good:

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Only six minutes into his MLS return for Montreal, Didier Drogba’s ($11.5) cheeky back heel leveled the score up at 1-1, as Montreal went on to earn three huge points away to Chicago. Impact teammate Ignacio Piatti ($10.6) netted a stunning 90th-minute winner with a curled effort from the edge of the box in a game dominated by Montreal. Meanwhile, the Sounders’ revival continues as Seattle beat Philadelphia 2-1 with defender Chad Marshall ($8.6) heading home from a corner to score for the second consecutive week. While it may have been a disappointing defeat for New York City, World Cup winning forward ‘El Guaje’, David Villa ($11.3) netted a brace – his third and fourth goals of the season. An emphatic victory for LA Galaxy was was started and continued by a Giovani Dos Santos ($10.9) double, with the Galaxy running away as 4-1 winners in Houston. Portland’s Fanendo Adi ($10.2) also continued his fine form, netting his second brace of the campaign against San Jose. Michael Barrios ($8.1) netted in both of Dallas’ games, which leaves the Western Conference leaders on a six-game unbeaten run. On the theme of unbeaten runs, Real Salt Lake remain the only MLS side yet to lose a league match this season. Juan Manuel Martinez ($8.5) netted early in the second half to make it consecutive 1-0 victories. How long can this incredible run continue for RSL?

The Bad:

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Philadelphia midfielder Roland Alberg ($8.1) picked up two yellow cards within 53 minutes of his side’s 2-1 defeat to Seattle. Columbus Crew’s Tyson Wahl ($6.0) conceded a penalty that teammate Michael Parkhurst then saw red for in a case of mistaken identity in his side’s eventual win over NYCFC. Wahl has since been handed the suspension that Parkhurst was wrongly given. Portland’s Diego Valeri ($10.3) also saw red in the dying moments of Portland’s 3-1 triumph, picking up a 90th minute yellow and 95th minute red card. The Red Bulls made it six defeats from seven as the star club from the 2015 season are being let down by key attacking players such as Bradley Wright-Phillips ($10.5), Lloyd Sam ($8.9) and Mike Grella ($7.8), with the team having only netted five goals from their seven matches so far. A club with such high expectations will be expecting to push on sooner rather than later. Houston Dynamo dropped to the bottom of the Western Conference after being outclassed by LA Galaxy, despite taking the lead within the first minute. The Dynamo have only managed one win so far this campaign (admittedly it was a resounding 5-0 romp against Dallas, with this being Dallas’ only defeat). It summarises the thrilling unpredictability of the league!

Week 7 Preview

Must Buy:

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With Columbus finally returning to form in their victory over NYCFC, now’s the time to stock up on their star players. When Kei Kamara ($10.9), Ethan Finlay ($10.7) and Federico Higuain ($10.3) are firing on all cylinders, they are an unbeatable side. Looking ahead to upcoming DGW’s, adding some SKC players would certainly seem wise. Nuno Coelho ($8.3) is quickly building a name for himself in Kansas City, along with their only two other ever-present starters, goalkeeper Tim Melia ($5.7) and French fullback Amadou Dia ($6.0).

Must Sell:

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Chicago Fire only play once in the next three weeks, so budget-hogging players like David Accam ($9.2) and Kennedy Igboananike ($8.1) need to be discarded for now. Portland are relying incredibly heavily on Adi and the now suspended Valeri, and won’t play in Week 7. Even when they do return to action, it might be worth transferring out Lucas Melano ($8.7), who is extremely pricy for a player that’s yet to really shine. Injuries to Marco Pappa ($8.2), Matt Hedges ($9.0) and Alvas Powell ($7.1) mean these three players will be dead weight for at least the next two or three game weeks and replacements should be brought in.

Who will you be transferring in for Week 7?

MLS Preview and Prediction: Columbus Crew vs New York City FC

Competition: Major League Soccer – Columbus Crew vs. New York City FC

Venue: MAPFRE Stadium – Saturday, April 16 – 19:30 ET (00:30 BST) 

Match Odds: Columbus 10/11 – Draw 13/5 – NYCFC 3/1

Match Preview

Columbus Crew host New York City FC in a key Eastern Conference clash on Saturday evening, with both sides looking to snap winless runs in what should be an open and attacking contest.

Columbus have started the new season in terrible form. They have yet to win a game and have lost three of their opening five.

Last weekend’s 2-0 loss to Montreal saw the Crew fail to score for the second time in their last three matches and the team is not playing with the same attacking freedom that they showed last year.

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Gregg Berhalter will be concerned but knows there is a long time left to turn things around. They need to give the home fans something to cheer about on Saturday as they try and lift themselves from the foot of the Eastern Conference.

New York City sit in fifth place heading into the weekend – a position they will be pleased with – but there is reason for concern, having not won since the opening day of the campaign.

What is perhaps more worrying for head coach Patrick Vieira is that their last four matches have all been at home, yet they have not been able to capitalise as they have picked up just three points from a possible 12 in that time.

MLS: NYCFC vs. Orlando Patrick Vieira

Their only away trip so far brought success (and lots of goals) as they beat Chicago 4-3 on the opening night. A 0-0 draw against the Fire last weekend proved they have solidified defensively in a short space of time but they need to be more clinical in front of goal, having netted once in their last three.

These two sides met twice last season, with Columbus yet to lose to NYCFC. The pair drew 2-2 in Columbus in August, before the Crew recorded a 2-1 win at Yankee Stadium 10 days later.

Team News

Columbus Crew look set to be without injured trio Corey Ashe, Conor Casey and Gaston Sauro for the visit of NYCFC. However, all are only suffering with minor injuries and will be fighting to be fit in time.

New York City have three injuries of their own to worry about. Frank Lampard has yet to make an appearance this term and is set to miss out again with an ongoing calf problem, while Connor Brandt and Jack Harrison are also ruled out.

Key Points

Columbus Crew’s last five: L/L/D/D/L

New York City’s last five: W/D/L/D/D

Key Stat: Columbus Crew are winless through their first five games for just the third time in their history (2004 & 2009). Failure to win on Saturday would see them record their second-longest winless start to a season yet. The longest stretch was seven matches in the 2009 campaign.

Key Player: Federico Higuain – The Columbus playmaker, like many of his teammates, has endured a slow start to the 2016 season. However, he possesses the quality to unlock any defence and will hope to inspire the Crew to a much-needed victory on Saturday evening.

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Score Prediction

Columbus Crew 1-1 New York City – This is a big game for both sides as they look to recover from poor runs of form here. This has the makings of an open and attacking game, packed with chances. However, both sides have been lacking a clinical edge in front of goal and so there might not be as many goals as there perhaps should be. It could be a case of both sides cancelling each other out as a score draw looks likely.

MLS Preview and Prediction: Columbus Crew vs FC Dallas

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

Venue: MAPFRE Stadium – Sunday, September 6 – 19:00 ET (00:00 BST) 

Match Odds: Columbus 10/11 – Draw 13/5 – Dallas 11/4

Match Preview

It’s third in the East against third in the West as Columbus Crew host FC Dallas in their only regular season meeting on Sunday night.

The Crew have been in fine form of late, going unbeaten in their last four, and are now just three points of DC United at the top of the Eastern Conference with this match being their game in hand.

A 2-1 win at New York City FC last week saw them record a third victory in four games and Greg Berhalter certainly has his team playing some fine football at the perfect time, with the playoffs fast approaching.

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FC Dallas ended a worrying three-game losing run with a 2-0 home win against Real Salt Lake last time out and will now hope to avoid defeat in Columbus to retain their own playoff hopes.

Dallas should make the postseason but inconsistency constantly prevents them being a real force and another loss here would crank the pressure up going into the final stretch of the season.

Oscar Pareja’s team are just three points above seventh place, despite sitting in third, but a three points here would put them two behind LA Galaxy at the top of the West with two more games in hand.

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So it’s a big one for both sides and one that should entertain. Last season’s meeting ended 0-0 in Columbus and it’s been four years since Dallas last beat the Crew.

Team News

Columbus could be without Sergio Campbell and Emanuel Pogatetz as both are doubtful with leg problems. Kei Kamara, Waylon Francis, Cedrick Mabwati, Kevan George, Justin Meram and Wil Trapp are all away on international duty, leaving the Crew short of options.

FC Dallas travel to Columbus without Tesho Akindele, Je-Vaugn Watson, Moises Hernandez, Fabian Castillo and Blas Perez as they are all away with their national teams. While Mauro Diaz and Dan Kennedy are both doubts.

Key Points

Columbus Crew’s last five: L/W/D/W/W

FC Dallas’ last five: W/L/L/L/W

Key Stat: Columbus Crew are unbeaten in their last seven home games in MLS, scoring 16 times in those matches.

Key Player: Federico Higuain – In the absence of Kei Kamara, Higuain will look to step up and score the goals that will guide the Crew to victory here.

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Score Prediction

Columbus Crew 3-1 FC Dallas – Hard to see FC Dallas taking anything out of this game. Both sides are depleted due to international absentees but Columbus should still be too strong at home and will look to earn three valuable points.

MLS Preview and Prediction: Columbus Crew vs New England Revolution

Competition: Major League Soccer – Columbus Crew vs. New England Revolution 

Venue: MAPFRE Stadium – Wednesday, June 24 – 19:30 ET (00:30 BST)

Match Odds: Columbus Crew 19/20 – Draw 5/2 – New England Revolution 11/4

Match Preview

Columbus Crew host New England Revolution in their midweek clash as they look to win their first game in six regular season ties.

Despite the Crew’s winless run they are still sitting in a playoff spot but will need to turn things around if they are to avoid dropping out the top six.

They come into this one off the back of a 1-1 draw with LA Galaxy, which isn’t a bad result as they equalised in the second half through Federico Higuain.

Gregg Barhalter‘s side need to tighten up at the back, having conceded ten goals in their last five regular season outings.

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Kei Kamara hasn’t netted in his last three regular season games and will be hoping to rediscover his golden touch in front of goal which has seen him bag 10 in 15 appearances.

New England Revolution have struggled lately, winning just once in their last eight regular season games. They are still sitting in second place but last weekend’s loss to DC United has made their chances of finishing at the top of the pile much harder, as they are now seven points adrift.

Jay Heaps will be hoping a win in this one could be the start of a revitalisation for his side, as they have Orlando City bearing down on them in third.

They come into the game off the back of that defeat to DC United, which was bitterly disappointing as they threw the game away after being a goal to the good at halftime and need to ensure the players stay focused for longer here.

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Charlie Davies has had a bright start to the season, netting seven in 16 appearances and he will be hoping to build on that in this game.

The Revs thumped Columbus in last season’s playoffs but the two sides played out a 0-0 draw at Gillette Stadium in the first meeting between the two this year.

Team News

Columbus Crew could be without up to three players as Matt Lampson, Will Trapp and Chris Klute are all doubtful. We can expect to see Federico Higuain in the thick of the action, as he has scored in his last two games.

New England Revolution will be without Darrius Barnes and Jermaine Jones, who both remain sidelined.

Key Points

Columbus Crew’s last five: D/D/L/L/D

New England Revolution’s last five: D/D/L/W/L

Key Stat: New England have conceded at least two goals in their last four regular season games and have lost their last three away from home.

Key Player: Federico Higuain – The playmaker has been in good form of late. He has netted four so far this season and registered one assist. Expect him to be involved.

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Score Prediction

Columbus Crew 2-2 New England Revolution – Another tight affair expected, with neither side doing enough to take all three points. There should be more goals than the earlier meeting as neither side has been good defensively.

MLS Preview and Prediction: San Jose Earthquakes vs Columbus Crew

Competition: Major League Soccer – San Jose Earthquakes vs. Columbus Crew

Venue: Avaya Stadium – Saturday, May 16th – 10:30 ET (03:30 BST)

Match Odds: San Jose Earthquakes 8/5 – Draw 11/5 – Columbus Crew 7/4

Match Preview

San Jose Earthquakes entertain Columbus Crew on Saturday evening as they look to build upon a three-game unbeaten streak. The Crew have won three of their last four, so both sides are looking strong heading into this tie.

Dominic Kinnear’s side picked up a point last weekend away at Colorado Rapids and he will be looking for his side to make home advantage count in this, the first of two home games on the bounce.

The Quakes have lost four games so far this season and are sitting fourth in the Western Conference. They are one of four sides on 14 points so they cannot afford to fall behind the pace in the chase for a playoff spot.

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Chris Wondolowski has five goals this season, contributing to half of his side’s overall tally of ten. He will be hoping for his teammates to start hitting form as Adam Jahn and Sanna Nyassi have just two goals between them.

Gregg Berhalter’s Crew are also on 14 points over in the Eastern Conference. They picked up an impressive three points at home to Seattle Sounders last weekend so their confidence will be sky-high heading into this one.

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Goals from Kei Kamara and Federico Higuain saw off the Sounders and the two have been in great form so far this season. Kamara is the joint leading scorer on seven from nine appearances this campaign and the Quakes will need to stop service into him to halt his brilliant run of form.

Team News

San Jose Earthquakes have five injury concerns going into the game as Mark Sherrod, Steven Lenhart, Shaun Francis, Jean-Baptiste Pierazzi and Innocent Emeghara all remain sidelined. The Quakes have no suspensions to note.

Columbus Crew have just the one injury concern to Wil Trapp and Berhalter has no other worries with his squad heading into this one. Hernan Grana has left the team and returned to Argentina so Hector Jimenez is likely to start at right-back again.

Key Points

San Jose Earthquakes’ form: W/L/D/W/D

Columbus Crew’s form: D/W/W/L/W

Key Stat: Stalemate – The last four meetings between the sides have all ended in a draw.

Key Player: Kei Kamara – The Crew forward cannot be ignored as the key player for this tie. He boasts the equal best scoring form so far this season and is proving very difficult to stop.

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Score Prediction

San Jose Earthquakes 2-2 Columbus Crew – The sides once again will prove difficult to be separated. Crew haven’t won on the road in five and will be hard pushed to break that trend here as a score draw looks the most likely outcome.

MLS Preview and Prediction: Columbus Crew vs Orlando City

Competition: Major League Soccer – Columbus Crew SC vs. Orlando City SC

Venue: MAPFRE Stadium – Saturday, April 18th – 19:30 ET (00:30 BST)

Match Odds: Columbus 10/11 – Draw 13/5 – Orlando 14/5

Match Preview

Two of Major League Soccer’s most fluid sides face up on Saturday as the Columbus Crew entertain Orlando City at MAPFRE Stadium in what should be a thrilling Eastern Conference clash.

Columbus return home after back-to-back road games at Vancouver Whitecaps and New England Revolution, earning draws in both of those matches, and will want to pick up just their second win of the season in front of their own fans on Saturday.

The Crew have been playing relatively well and many feel that they are the team that play the most attractive football in MLS, but it’s time to start putting points on the board now.

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Their opponents Orlando have enjoyed a solid start to life as an MLS franchise and they too play some attractive, free-flowing football so this should be a treat for the neutral.

Orlando beat Portland Timbers 2-0 away from home last weekend as they remain unbeaten on the road and will travel to Columbus in high spirits.

This will be the first-ever meeting between the sides in MLS and is the first of three games this season, with the following two to be played in Orlando.

Columbus know a win will put them level on eight points with the Lions, who have played one game more, and this has all the makings of a classic between two sides with great attacking talents.

Kaka will look to continue to impress for Orlando, while Federico Higuain and Kei Kamara could cause problems for the Lions defence.

Team News

Columbus Crew could be without midfielder Wil Trapp, as the midfielder continues to struggle with concussion problems, while Waylon Francis (ankle) is also a doubt. Federico Higuain will start behind Kei Kamara in attack, with Ethan Finlay and Justin Meram likely to start on either flank. Chris Klute could start at left-back again in the absence of Francis.

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Orlando City will be without Tally Hall (knee) and Pedro Ribeiro (hamstring) for the trip to Columbus, while Martin Paterson (groin), Lewis Neal (neck) and Tony Cascio (back) could also miss out. Cyle Larin scored his first MLS goal last week and is expected to keep his place in attack. Brek Shea travelled with the USA squad for the friendly against Mexico but is expected to be back in the squad for the game on Saturday.

Key Points

Columbus Crew’s form: L/W/L/D/D

Orlando City’s form: W/L/D/L/W

Key Stat: Columbus Crew have registered more shots per game than any other team in MLS so far this season (15.4).

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Key Player: Kaka – The Brazilian playmaker is key to Orlando’s hopes and has seemed to perform better on the road this season. He scored his third of the season at Portland last week and will be a real threat again in this one.

Score Prediction

Columbus Crew 2-2 Orlando City – There is not enough to separate these two at this early stage of the season and so a draw is the most likely outcome, although we can expect to see plenty of goalmouth action as these two love to attack. This could be the game of the weekend.

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

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

Venue: MAPFRE Stadium – Saturday, March 28 – 19:30 ET (23:30 GMT)

Match Odds: Columbus Crew 21/20 – Draw 5/2 – New York Red Bulls – 12/5

Match Preview

Columbus Crew entertain New York Red Bulls on Saturday evening as both sides look to build upon their first win of the MLS season.

The Crew beat Toronto 2-0 last time out and are currently sitting in fourth place, with three points from two games, while the Red Bulls are in second place with four points from two games after they beat DC United 2-0 last weekend.

The last time these two sides met, it ended in a 3-1 victory for Columbus and the hosts will certainly be hoping for a repeat result.

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New York Red Bulls are looking to kick into gear after getting that important first win with key man Bradley Wright-Phillips now off the mark. They need to start picking up the pace to show that they can deal with life after Thierry Henry and back-to-back wins will send out a message that they mean business.

Columbus Crew’s Kei Kamara also opened his account last weekend and he will be looking to add to his tally to show why the Crew signed him.

Both sides have started this season cautiously and have looked a little rusty in places, but as the games come thick and fast they will continue to ease into their flowing play.

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Federico Higuain is yet to open his account for the campaign and he will be eager to improve on last seasons tally of 11 goals.

This is an important game for both sides who will want to stake a claim for the playoff places and Columbus head coach Gregg Berhalter will be confident he can lead the side to the playoffs once again.

Team News

Columbus Crew have just one known injury concern in the shape of Romain Gall (sprained knee). Though they will be without Justin Meram, Will Trapp and Waylon Francis, who are all away on international duty, so changes will have to be made.

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New York Red Bulls don’t have too many concerns but new man Ronald Zubar could miss out with a hamstring problem and Roy Miller has a sprained knee. Dane Richards, Kemar Lawrence and Karl Ouimette are all away on international duty. Bradley Wright-Phillips and Lloyd Sam impressed last weekend, so Steve Clark could have a busy evening in-between the sticks.

Key Points

Columbus Crew’s form: L/W

New York Red Bulls’ form: D/W

Key Stat: These two sides have scored nine goals between them in their last two meetings (New York Red Bulls 1-3 Columbus Crew/New York Red Bulls 4-1 Columbus Crew). If that is anything to go by, we could be in for a treat.

Key Player: Federico Higuain – The playmaker is key to making the Crew tick and he can be the difference with the service to Kamara.

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Score Prediction

Columbus Crew 1-1 New York Red Bulls – Neither side will want to lose any ground in the playoff charge, even this early on. We can expect Higuain to be pulling the strings for the Crew, while Wright-Phillips and Sam will look to pick-up where they left off last weekend.

MLS Preview and Prediction: Houston Dynamo vs Columbus Crew

Competition: Major League Soccer – Houston Dynamo vs Columbus Crew

Venue: BBVA Compass Stadium – Sunday, March 8th – 20:30 ET (01:30 GMT – Sunday, 9)

Match Odds: Houston Dynamo 5/4 – Draw 11/5 – Columbus Crew 11/5

Match Preview

Houston Dynamo host the Columbus Crew on Saturday night in their season openers of the 2015 Major League Soccer campaign. This one sees two good sides that have had eventful yet promising offseasons go head-to-head.

Houston has changed their manager, opting to go for Owen Coyle. The Scot replaces Dominic Kinnear who departed the club at the end of the 2014 season after eight years in charge.

The managerial change sees former Premier League manager Coyle take over a Houston side that needs to do better than last season as they have a lot of promise in the squad.

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With the addition of Erick Torres to bolster an already strong team that boasts World Cup stars DaMarcus Beasley and Brad Davis, the Dynamo could be set for a good season.

Starting a season at home is always a good thing and Houston are the favorites going into the game against the Columbus Crew.

Houston Dynamo’s MLS home record in 2014: P17 – W8 – D4 – L5

The Columbus Crew’s changes have been more image-based as the club enter 2015 with a new logo and are without too many changes to their roster. The addition of Kei Kamara will bolster their attacking options and is a good pickup.

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Midfield acquisitions, Mohammed Saeid and Kristinn Steindorsson will add depth to a midfield that is very strong. Defensive midfielder, Will Trapp was recently called up to the USMNT and will want to continue to impress this year.

Columbus Crew’s MLS away record in 2014: P17 – W5 – D6 – L6

A special mention has to go to Ethan Finlay as the young attacking midfielder chipped in with eleven goals in MLS last term and will be hoping for more of the same in 2015.

Team News

Houston Dynamo: No injuries and we’re expecting everyone to be available for selection. Will Bruin is set to start in attack while defender Raul Rodriguez should make his debut at centre-back.

Columbus Crew: Romain Gall is out of this game with a knee injury. Kei Kamara and Kristinn Steindorsson should make their debuts.

Key Points

Houston Dynamo’s form: N/A

Columbus Crew’s form: N/A

Key Stat: The Houston Dynamo have only lost once at home to Columbus in MLS, a 2-0 defeat in June 2011.

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Key Player: Federico Higuain – The Argentinian playmaker can lay on assists as well as score goals. He was key in 2014 for Columbus and if they are to take anything from Sunday’s game he will need to be at his best in a playmaking role.

Score Prediction

Houston Dynamo 1-1 Columbus Crew – A game that neither side want to lose and we don’t think either will risk losing in this one. It could be a tight game but with each side bagging a goal. Score draw.