Columbus Crew SC is four points out from the top of the Eastern Conference table as the Black & Gold head down to Audi Field in a match-up against the top team in the East, D.C. United, on Saturday, May 4.
In the two sides’ first meeting of 2019, D.C. rode the coattails of Wayne Rooney’s free-kick goal and a bunker-down second-half defensive effort en route to a 1-0 victory at MAPFRE Stadium.
As dominant as D.C. was at Audi Field in 2018, the home momentum has appeared to wear off through the beginning stages of the 2019 season with only seven of their 17 total points coming in the District.
Overall, April 24’s match featured a solid showing from the Crew (4-5-1, 13 pts.), including a dominant second half that seemed to feature all but the final ball.
That being said, Crew SC rightback Hector Jimenez said the team is geared up for a showdown against a D.C. United team that is beatable at home, as NYCFC showed just over a week ago.
“We have our next game against D.C., which we are looking forward to. It is an opponent that I think we can play really well,” Jimenez said. “We will take this whole week to get ready for that.”
A week ago against D.C. (5-3-2, 17 pts.), the Crew posted 18 shots, 12 corners, 33 open play crosses, and a 59-percent possession rating, all match-highs.
With the transition defense at the forefront once again, D.C. brings one of the League’s best counter-attacking trios in Luciano Acosta, Wayne Rooney, and Paul Arriola, though Acosta's production has diminished compared to last year's 10-goal, 15-assist performance with two goals and one assist in 10 matches played.
Regardless, shutting them down remains a prime objective for the Crew’s defense come Saturday, as it was in last year's Knockout Round match when the Crew advanced past D.C. on Nov. 1, 2018 at Audi Field.
“They are a very good counter-attacking team. They do well with Rooney and Acosta. If we can minimize that, I think we can put ourselves in a good position,” Jimenez said.
Notably, D.C. United is scoreless in their last three home games, going 0-2-1 in the process, while Columbus looks for its first tally since Pedro Santos’ second goal of the season in a 3-1 loss to Portland on April 20.
Ahead of Saturday, statistics would say it’s a very even-sided game. In goals conceded, D.C. has allowed 10 compared to Columbus’ 11, while offensively, both clubs sport 37 shots on target.
This season, Columbus’ 84 chances created bests D.C.’s 71, but the clubs' final-third passing totals stand at 611 and 605 in favor of Crew SC, while a majority of each club’s goals have come from either set plays or dead ball scenarios.
Having played them so recently, midfielder Eduardo Sosa said the team now has the opportunity to focus on the details with a full week's preparation in store.
“We’re familiar with [D.C. United]. We’re familiar with the players,” Sosa said. “We know what they bring to the table. Now we have to focus on the little things, so we can improve them as we prepare to face them. It is not going to be an easy match, but we have to be working the little things and hopefully get a good result.”
Kickoff at D.C. United is set for 8 p.m. ET on SportsTime Ohio and 1460 AM ESPN Columbus. Fans can also stream the match on FOX Sports GO, or stream English and Spanish audio on 971TheFan.com and ColumbusCrewSC.com.