The still-evolving Men in Red get a do-over on Wednesday's 1-0 capitulation today at 4 p.m. Will they find a way to deal with Columbus' pressure-possession game? Or will that yellow team escape from a home-and-home with all six points?
HTiOT: Re-watching Wednesday's game confirms what a thorough deboning the Fire received in the first half - in stretches, it became a pressure and possession clinic, and the Men in Red had few answers. We're left asking: WTF are we gonna do against that press? So, I ask you - what tactical approaches have worked against the Crew?
MR: When Crew SC are on offensively and things are clicking, I'm not sure there's a defense in the league that can contain this attacking combo. Kei Kamara has added so much to this attack in his diverse ability to play any of the front three positions really open things up. His interchange with Ethan Finlay and Justin Meram (both drafted as forwards), really complicates things defensively for opponents.
What worked last year was the press that Chicago attempted (and the Black & Gold are expecting again) on Wednesday. The issues they've had this year are simply their own. Crew SC hasn't had an issue scoring, it's conceding that's been the issue.
To answer your question, if you want to beat Columbus, score first. For whatever reason, it gets the Black & Gold out of the normal rhythm and the team seems to have issues getting going.
That's the best defense.
HT: The Crew have a fantastic spine of elite players up the middle of their shape - from the back forward, I count Clark, Parkhurst, Trapp, Higuain and Kamara. If one were lost, which would the team miss most, and why? And the least?
MR: Since your next question is on Trapp, I won't say him, even though he is the obvious answer.
Of the rest of the players, I would say Parkhurst. He's the team captain and really makes a difference defensively. Although the team hasn't been as good defensively as they were a year ago, Parkhurst continues to be in the right place at the right time and make crucial tackles and interceptions..
If he goes down for an extended period of time, Crew SC turns to Tyson Wahl. Wahl is a very capable backup and a great player to have on your team. He helped the team make a playoff run last year after Giancarlo Gonzalez left, but he's not an every-day starter in MLS at this point in his career.
HT: Please give us a little freestyle on Wil Trapp - that kid absolutely dominated from deep midfield Wednesday night. In your opinion, what makes him special?
MR: His intelligence is what makes him special. He understands the game so well, it makes him ahead of his time.
The 22-year old is the perfect fit for Berhalter's system. He is more of a defensive-minded player, so he can drop back in the into the defense when the outside backs go forward, but he also is capable for playing a crucial ball, especially long, diagonal passes.
Another thing he does was is the periodic run forwards. We saw this in the game on Wednesday when he played a quick ball, then filled in to the vacated space by Ethan Finlay. His cross found Kamara (who was of course denied by Sean Johnson) and he created an opportunity out of very little. These well-timed runs are difficult to defense because most defenses don't expect Trapp to be a part of the offense.
It's funny because the kid is a major Bayern Munich fan and he's the perfect fit for that system. If he can continue to develop, especially more of a shot, he could make his way to the German club.