Columbus Crew Scouting Report: Slow At the Back, Creative Up Front

Jeff Gross

A look at the Montreal Impact's next opponent, the Columbus Crew.

The Columbus Crew face the Montreal Impact as both clubs meet for the second time in 2013. The Impact beat the Crew to claim its first ''MLS related'' silverware: The 2013 Disney Pro Classic. The Villareal of Major League Soccer was a difficult adversary for the Impact to break down after losing 2 games at Columbus and winning 1 at home in 2012.

Additions, Substractions for the Crew

IN: OUT:
M Wil Trapp (12/13/12 - Homegrown) M Cole Grossman (11/19/12 - option declined)
D Tyson Wahl (1/3/13 - free) F Olman Vargas (11/19/12 - option declined)
D Chad Barson (1/10/13 - Homegrown) D Nemanja Vukovic (11/19/12 - option declined)
F Ryan Finley (1/17/13 - SuperDraft) D Rich Balchan (11/28/12 - option declined)
D Gláuber (1/22/13 - Discovery) D Julius James (11/28/12 - option declined)
D/M Agustín Viana (1/28/13 - Discovery) D Sebastián Miranda (11/28/12 - option declined)
F Dominic Oduro (2/4/13 - trade from Chicago) M Chris Birchall (11/28/12 - option declined)
M Matías Sánchez (2/8/13 - Discovery) F Tommy Heinemann (11/28/12 - option declined)
D Drew Beckie (2/15/13 - SuperDraft) GK William Hesmer (11/28/12 - option declined)
M Konrad Warzycha (2/27/13 - free) D Carlos Mendes (12/11/12 - signed with NY Cosmos)
M Shawn Sloan (2/27/13 - SuperDraft) M Dilly Duka (2/4/13 - trade to Chicago)
D/M Kyle Hyland (2/27/13 - Homegrown)
GK Daniel Withrow (3/7/13 - Supplemental Draft)

The most notable arrival would the ex- Chicago Fire Dominic Oduro. The Ghanean forward came to Columbus via trade that saw Dilly Duka go the other way. Oduro brings versatility with his ability to play alone upfront but can also play on the wings if needed.

His strong physical presence will be key for the Crew to keep the Impact defense busy with his back at the goal. He will also take advantage of having Federico Higuain playing around him. Expect the Argentinean ''playmaker'' to be hovering around Oduro taking over the offensive midfield position.

Strength: Federico Higuain

The Argentinean Designated Player will be automatically compared to the Impact's Designated Player Marco Di Vaio. Both came around the same time in the league and are here to take their respective clubs to the next level. That is about all they have in common.

Higuain is more of an offensive midfielder who will seldom play up front. Di Vaio is a pure striker that will sometimes leave his position to be a setup man. Finding a way to take out Higuain out of the equation will be a big part of the game plan. How can you do so? Keeping ball possession and make the Crew run around for the ball.

Playing away, the Crew will take advantage of all set-pieces as Higuain can definitively curl in dangerous crosses in. In a expected counter attacking mindset, with Oduro upfront and Higuain behind him, you can expect Columbus to use that duo for dangerous counterattacks.

Weakness: Sluggish Defense But Compact

If you want to work on your passing game, the game against Columbus can be the perfect time to do so. Even if the weather (snow , rain and cold ) might not permit it, taking control of the game early is important for the Stade Saputo Home Opener.

To complement a quick passing game, movement up front will hinder a slow physical Crew defense. That same defense has had some difficulty against the Philadelphia Union. Even if Di Vaio is usually the lone striker, movement and runs will be key to take advantage of spaces given between the lines.

Between a disappointing Glauber and a ''slower'' Chad Marschall, getting away from physical match-ups will take away a big advantage for the Crew defense.

What do you get when you mix Blue and Yellow: Green or a shade of green weather permitting.

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