FRISCO - When FC Dallas hosts Columbus Crew SC on Saturday night at Toyota Stadium, many aspects will be like looking in the mirror.
Of course, the red and white of FC Dallas would not be confused with the yellow and black in Columbus, but in many ways these two opponents are franchises with similar paths and it all started back in the 2013-2014 off-season.
Having both missed the playoffs in consecutive seasons, Columbus and FC Dallas parted ways with their managers after the 2013 season and both turned to players with huge backgrounds in American soccer. Much like Oscar Pareja has turned FCD into an MLS favorite, Gregg Berhalter has transformed what was something of a rudder-less franchise in Columbus.
The Crew finished third in the MLS Eastern Conference in 2014 before breaking out in a big way in 2015 scoring the second-most goals in MLS while playing a visually pleasing style. They hosted MLS Cup falling 2-1 to the Portland Timbers in heartbreaking fashion mostly on self-inflicted errors. Sound familiar?
"Certainly, they’re a good team. They proved last year that they were strong in the East going to the final," said Pareja. "They’re in the same scenario as us just trying to approach the new season with different stories and playing different games. Obviously, it’s a group who has already accumulated a lot of games together with the same coach and is very similar [to us]."
On the field, the playing styles are similar as well. Much like FC Dallas, Columbus loves to play in the 4-2-3-1 formation with a dynamic Argentine number ten in the middle of the park. While most FCD fans would prefer Mauro Diaz to Federico Higuain, the Crew boast arguably the most dominant target forward in MLS in Kei Kamara who scored an astounding 22 goals last year.
Perhaps part of the reason these teams are so similar is they had the same owners! From the club's first match in 1996 until mid-2013, Columbus was owned by the Hunt family before selling to Precourt Sports Ventures.
"On behalf of my entire family, I want to thank the city of Columbus, the state of Ohio, the Crew players, coaches and staff, and most importantly, the Crew supporters for cultivating one of the most iconic clubs in MLS and allowing us to be a part of it.," said Hunt Sports Group Chairman Clark Hunt upon selling the club in 2013.
Unlike FCD, Columbus has struggled to open the 2016 season. As happens from time to time, the goals have dried up early in the year with only two scored in three games, leading to an 0-1-2 record to start the season and FC Dallas hopes to keep that going on Saturday night as they host the Crew at Toyota Stadium where they have won 15 of their last 19 games dating back to the start of 2015.