Though the Crew got the best of D.C. United to open the season with a 3-0 win at RFK Stadium on March 8, the Black & Gold know it will be a different United side that visits Columbus on Saturday (TICKETS). D.C. comes to Crew Stadium riding a three-match unbeaten run following back-to-back wins against the New York Red Bulls and New England Revolution.
United's recent success has given Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter more film to look at in preparation for the weekend.
"They're different [than Week One], they're playing well," Berhalter said of his opponent. "They've won their last two games. They've been getting results. It's a good team."
He continued: "It's a lot easier [to prepare], obviously, being able to watch their last five games. It's been a lot easier to get ahold of that."
Like Berhalter, his players are expecting a different-look D.C. side.
"When we played [in Week One] it was the first game for [D.C.] together, maybe not knowing each other or the system a little bit, but it's a completely different team," defender Josh Williams said. "That's what we're expecting. I'm sure they haven't forgotten the first game and I think they think they owe us something. We're going to come out here in front of our home fans and deliver for them bring home three points."
Added midfielder Tony Tchani: "It's going to be a different game. It was the first game of the season, they didn't know that we were going to push the game. They've seen our game now. They know we like to keep the ball. I think they'll be a little more compact and try to make us have a difficult day."
The Crew backline will be wary of striker Eddie Johnson, who has yet to score for United. The U.S. Men's National Team regular has scored in his last two trips to Crew Stadium for both club and country.
"He's big, physical, fast, good with the ball -- he's just a handful for the back four," Williams complimented Johnson. "We're going to really have to pay attention to him, even on set pieces. He burned us last year with Seattle. It's something we're aware of."
The Crew relishes a return home following last week's draw at San Jose. The Black & Gold will look to continue making Crew Stadium a fortress after a hiccup against Toronto FC two weeks ago, resulting in a 2-0 defeat.
"We addressed some of the things from the Toronto game that we weren't happy with and certainly, we want to come out with more energy and have a more dominant performance at home," Berhalter said. "One thing I was pleasantly surprised with was the Nordecke. Even after the Toronto game, they were going strong and giving us support. We really appreciate that as a staff and players to lose a game and not be happy with our own performance, but still be able to get cheered on by the fans, to me, it said a lot about them."
Added Williams: "I'm sure the Nordecke will be ready. It'll be big to help us come alive, help us push through and hopefully put on a good performance and make up for the Toronto game."