Know Your Enemy: Columbus Crew

Higuain and Oduro lead resurgent Columbus Crew attack

Columbus Know Your Enemy

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USA Today Sports Images

FC Dallas returns home for another must-win game this weekend when they host the Columbus Crew at Toyota Stadium in Hispanic Heritage Night Presented by Taco Bell.

The two sides have not met in Frisco since 2011, a 2-0 win for FC Dallas.

Columbus are enjoying a new found energy under interim manager Brian Bliss, winning three out of their last four matches including a big 3-0 win last weekend over the Chicago Fire.

The Black-and-Gold are lead by former FC Dallas forward Dominic Oduro and Designated Player Federico Higuain. Oduro leads the Crew with 11 goals on the season while Higuain has 10 goals of his own to go with eight assists on the season.

Columbus are currently sitting two points back of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. They are also 4-9-2 away from Crew Stadium in 2013.

Injury Watch

The Crew have had to deal with several big injuries this season. Veteran midfielder Eddie Gavin is sidelined with an ACL rupture, the same can also be said about veteran defender Glauber. Goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum has been dealing with shoulder problems while defender Josh Williams has had concussion symptoms.

READ: Acosta nearing record for minutes played by an FCD Homegrown player

Key Matchups

Federico Higuain vs Matt Hedges – Last week Hedges had the tough duty of dealing with Thierry Henry and Tim Cahill. This week won’t be any easier for the second-year defender as he goes up against Higuain. If he can put a body into the Argentine early like has done against the likes of Henry, and Camilo from Vancouver, it will go a long way in helping keep the Crew off the board.

Fabian Castillo vs Chad Barson – Just like Dallas, the Crew have a young Homegrown fullback in their starting lineup in Barson. While Barson has played well this season, he has not seen the speed that Castillo possesses. 

WATCH: Columbus Crew 3, Chicago Fire 0

Key Player for Columbus

Federico Higuain – The 2012 MLS Newcomer of the Year has made sure his first full season in the league has been a good one. The Crew attack lives and dies with Higuain. In just 40 regular season games, the Argentine has 15 goals and 15 assists. He does an excellent job of pulling defenders out of position to set up the attack. He also has an ability score a goal from anywhere on the pitch.

Projected Lineup

Bliss has been using a 4-4-2 type of formation with Higuain sitting just below Jairo Arrieta in the attack.

Goalkeeper: Matt Lampson; RB: Agstin Viana; CB: Tyson Wahl, Chad Marshall; LB: Chad Barson; RM: Bernardo Anor; CM: Toni Tchani, Wil Trapp; LM: Dominic Oduro; FW: Federico Higuain, Jairo Arrieta.

WATCH: Blas Perez talks to about representing Panama internationally and in MLS

Keys to three points

The need for points is going to be evident out of both teams from the start in this one. Fans should expect a physical match between these two from the start. Columbus is a team that rankings in the upper half of the league in fouls committed.

Due to the level of physical play that is expected, Dallas will need to take full advantage of the extra set piece opportunities in this match.

Columbus is a young team at the core this season. Lately, Bliss has used three Homegrown players on the field at the same time. Dallas will want to expose their youth in the back and find ways to put them under pressure early on. The young players for the Crew have done well but just like any young player, they are prone to give up bad turnovers in their own defensive end.

Dallas will also want to expose the wings in this match, using their speed with Fabian Castillo and Jackson. Last week against the Fire, Columbus shut down the Chicago wingers by limiting the number of passes into the penalty box. This neutralized the rest of the Chicago attack.

Castillo will be a key player for Dallas in this one as he has shown lately to be a big fixture in the attack with Blas Perez. If those two can link up well like they have over the last couple of weeks, it will open up opportunities for the rest of the Dallas attack.

This game is a certain must-win for Dallas. In a small way the playoffs start now for Dallas, as losing is no longer an option from here on out.