Columbus Crew SC struggled this early season earning eight points from seven matches. They do have two wins in a row. They are starting to re-learn this thing called "soccer". They had three goals in the first five matches and four goals in last (three against NYCFC two weeks ago though). Don't take the Houston match, last week, too seriously because it was a Kei Kamara PK after Tyler Deric saw red for a foul in the box. Columbus managed zero goals in the 70 minutes up a man after the PK with Joe Willis in goal. Their lineup has not changed really at all since they were in the finals, it's just mistakes and and a lack of confidence it appears.
Federico Higuain, Justin Meram, Ethan Finlay, and Kei Kamara make up an attacking four that should strike fear in every defense. They can be successful running down the flanks. Feeding the ball through the middle both short and long balls are successful. Crosses into the box and long balls for 1v1s convert goals. There is no mode of attack that they are honestly bad at or that their personnel are bad at, just this year they can't do anything right. I want to say fear the unpredictability of this offense. I want to say they'll give a Brad Evans-less defense headaches but with their lack of skill this year, it is hard to say that with a straight face. In any case, they'll give us plenty of headaches but I think they're only good for a goal at most.
Wil Trapp could be the future of mid-tier National Team CMs. He's a good young player. He's playing along side Tony Tchani and Mohammed Saeid, who both may miss this weekend and force the start of Saravia. All three guys are good at stopping passes and reading the play, though not the best at marking. None of them have been able to clog up the middle this year, leaving plenty of space for players to operate between them and the CBs. In a pivot between the two the non-Trapp will typically push forward into the attack but that's not even been their issue. The are being outclassed by every team in midfield, if Clint Dempsey and Andreas Ivanschitz (likely out) want it, the space will be there. The question isn't will they have space to create in this match, it'll be how they use it.
The backline is awful. Sorry I mean, Afful. Yes there is a player named Afful. Hes not too awful. Injuries have forced the club to start former Sounder, Tyson Wahl at CB. The Sounders started him at both CB and LB, but now he has to play CB. He's older, slower, and lost any ability to be an attacking fullback. He can still head the ball well enough but being next to converted RB, Michael Parkhurst, it means neither starter is a true CB. Both players are average or better at distribution but can get caught flat-footed by a crafty striker who springs a runner from hold-up play or chasing a striker racing down the middle. Jordan Morris and Nelson Valdez will be able to get past the CBs for 1v1s or 1v0s, they just have to finish against Steve Clark. Harrison Afful and Waylon Francis are likely starting at the fullback positions. They have a bit of speed, not Joevin Jones but faster than Tyrone Mears. They are defensive liabilities though. They are below average tacklers and markers and average attackers. The Sounders will play the ball to the corners, no matter how much space they have in the middle. It is good news for us that Columbus has defensive liabilities across the board but finishing has been the club's problem and it'll take focus not defensive lapses to make it happen.
Seattle should win. Columbus is in a funk. They are poor on the road. They have an injuries in the center of the park. Columbus has horrible jerseys to wear on the road. The Crew can't finish either, no matter how talented their offense appears to be. I can guarantee there will be nervy moments. There will be yellow cards with Guzman reffing. We will miss a wide open shot. Frei will be forced into a crazy save. In the end, Seattle walks away with three points. This isn't just optimism, Columbus has forgotten how to play soccer and going on the road has consistently set them back, it'll be tough and earned and ours.
Columbus- Clark, Afful, Parkhurst, Wahl, Francis, Trapp, Saravia, Finlay, Higuain, Meram, Kamara
Seattle- Frei, Mears, Scott, Marshall, Jones, Alonso, Friberg, Roldan, Morris, Valdez, Dempsey