D.C. United-Crew Preview
Caleb Porter and the Columbus Crew will have the opportunity to quickly move on from their CONCACAF Champions League exit when they host DC United on Saturday.
Porter's men won MLS Cup in 2020 but will not represent the league in the last four of the continental competition. The Philadelphia Union are the only remaining MLS representatives after Columbus lost 3-0 at Monterrey after a 2-2 first-leg draw in the quarter-finals.
The Crew's involvement means this weekend's game is their seventh of 2021, while opponents DC United have played just three times.
"Unfortunately, with the way this early part of the competition's set up, which is why it's so difficult for the MLS teams, it's very tricky," Porter said after the Champions League defeat. "We played a game three days ago, another game three days prior to that and another game three days prior to that. We have another game in two days. It's very difficult for us starting the season that way.
"I'm very pleased with the players' effort over the four games, disappointed with the way that it ended. The players wanted to do well in the tournament, they gave a lot, (it was) just not enough. We'll put it away and put it behind us and throw everything into the league now."
United might make for accommodating opponents as a host of regulars remain out, including Bill Hamid, Russell Canouse and Paul Arriola.
"They are slowly being integrated into the sessions, not fully yet, but glad to see their faces on the field," coach Hernan Losada said. "Let's hope they slowly start to train fully with the group and we can count on them for the coming games, but it's not going to happen this weekend."
Columbus – Bradley Wright-Phillips
The Crew are struggling for goals at the start of this season and first-choice striker Gyasi Zardes has been dealing with a shoulder issue. He was substituted at half-time against Monterrey, but they at least have an able deputy in Wright-Phillips. One of the greatest goal scorers in MLS history is more than capable of plugging that gap.
DC United – Ola Kamara
One DC player who might this week return from injury is Kamara, who will hope for a much better season than in 2020. The striker had three goals in six games after returning to MLS in 2019 but then managed only four across the entirety of the following campaign.
- DC United have won three straight against Columbus, including a 1-0 win over the eventual MLS Cup champions in October last season. This is DC's first three-match winning streak over the Crew since 2006.
- Columbus have opened the season with two straight scoreless draws. It is the fifth time in MLS history a team have had no goals scored or conceded through two matches, with the Crew the first team to do so twice (also in 2007). The only team to play three straight scoreless draws in MLS history are Colorado, who did so in their first three matches in the 2015 season.
- DC have kept only one clean sheet in their past 16 matches in MLS play, conceding 34 goals in that time (2.1 per match). United's sole clean sheet in that span was a 1-0 home win over Columbus on October 28.
- Columbus failed to hit a shot on target in their scoreless draw with Montreal last Saturday, the first time the Crew failed to register a shot on target in a match since July 2019 against Real Salt Lake.
- Going back to the end of last season, four of DC United's past five goals have been scored from corners, including the past two in a row.
Updated May 7, 2021