Two MLS originals eyeing a top spot in the Eastern Conference table meet on Wednesday, April 24, at MAPFRE Stadium as Columbus Crew SC (4-3-1, 13 pts.) looks to snap a two-match skid against D.C. United (4-2-2, 14 pts.), who remain unbeaten in road play at 2-0-1.
D.C. United and Columbus enter Wednesday's match on the heels of respective home losses, with D.C. falling 2-0 to New York City FC on Sunday, April 21 while Columbus dropped a 3-1 decision to Portland on April 20, leaving the Club waiting another four days in search of its fourth home win of the season.
Side-by-side, Columbus and D.C. rank similarly in a number of categories, both offensive and defensive. In particular, both are among the top in the League in defensive proficiency, with Columbus allowing eight goals (t-3rd) compared to D.C.'s nine allowed (t-5th), while both clubs stand tied with a League-leading four shutouts.
After a pair of otherwise solid performances in Montreal and against Portland, head coach Caleb Porter & Co. are still eyeing that final bit of execution in the box.
"We had a good meeting today. We looked at each other in the eyes and talked about last game, looked at some film, and we’re ready," Porter said. "These guys will be locked in and they will be ready. We have to move on quickly. Lots of good in the game, lots of things that we need to do better. we have to keep growing in the final third especially. We had a lot of things right in the execution. We didn’t get the final third right and set pieces. Those are two moments that we have to be better in."
Offensively, Columbus (54) and D.C. (55) sit in the League's lower tier in chances created while the Crew have totaled eight goals compared to D.C.'s 12. Wayne Rooney lead's D.C. in goals (4) and assists (3) while Gyasi Zardes leads Columbus with three goals and Federico Higuain with three assists.
Outside of a 5-0 home win versus Real Salt Lake, D.C. has posted only one victory with a plus-two or more goal-differential (March 3 vs. Atlanta). However, of the visitors' three away matches, D.C. has averaged one conceded goal, while on the offensive end, Crew SC comes in with a one goal per game average overall.
In the midfield, Columbus' Artur (14) and D.C.'s Junior Moreno (20) will put their tackling success to the test, as both rank in the top-10 in MLS in tackles won. For Columbus, transition efforts come to the forefront in Wednesday's match with key opposing players like Luciano Acosta and Paul Arriola.
In a four-day turnaround for Crew SC, the preparation starts with the physical aspect before turning to the tactical, Porter said.
"We’ve looked at [D.C. United's] games. We have analyzed them. We will go over the scouting report tomorrow. Today was mostly recovery for the guys that played. That is probably the most important thing, to make sure guys are mentally and physically recovered," Porter said on Monday after training.
"Tomorrow we will roll out the plan for DC. It will be a light session. Then we are back in. The medicine for a loss is a win. I know that these guys are going to be hungry to do that in the next couple of days."
This weekend’s match marks the 69th all-time regular-season contest between Crew SC and D.C. United dating back to 1996. The Black & Gold last faced D.C. United in regular-season action in 2018 at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, with D.C. winning 1-0 on that occasion, while the Black & Gold have an all-time regular-season winning home record of 19-7-7 against D.C. United.
Promotions for the match versus D.C. United include Pre-Match Happy Hour and Food Truck Discounts that last through halftime on the plaza, with kickoff set for 7:30 p.m. ET.
Supporters can watch the match on SportsTime Ohio, stream on FOX Sports GO, or listen on 97.1 FM The Fan or www.ColumbusCrewSC.com (English & Spanish).