Although we should not take away anything from the defensive posture form DC United's center-backs of Dejan Jakovic and Brandon McDonald – the Black & Red are going to need a more solidified attacking approach if Ben Olsen's side are to triumph over a very technically sound Columbus Crew side. DC take on the Crew this Saturday at RFK Stadium at 3:30pm.
Goalkeeper Bill Hamid will likely be called upon again to keep DC in the match as he did ever-so-well against a potent New York Red Bulls attack recording a clean sheet. Although Columbus are not nearly as dangerous in the attack of New York, the side still has plenty of firepower who have been making the most of their chances. Arrieta will be away on international duty as well as he will be representing Costa Rica in Denver against the USA. And Federico Higuain has also netted a goal for the Crew and will look to add to his tally against a stingy DC United defense.
Although both Arrieta and Higuain are thoroughly capable of creating their own scoring chances – both are equally as capable of finding the feet of midfielder Eddie Gaven, and the very reliable Dominic Oduro. Oduro will be looked towards to break down Perry Kitchen and the defensive midfield while also looking to prevent any interlocking play between Nick DeLeon and Dwyane De Rosario.
A key loss for United will be that of their valuable center-back of Dejan Jakovic who will be away on international duty with the Canadian National Team. Thus, it seems fairly likely that Daniel Woolard will get the nod to start alongside McDonald who will hope to gel well in order to slow down the Crew's attack.
Continued ineffectiveness amongst the wings have been a cause for concern for Olsen's squad, and he has expressed his discontent midweek according to DC United.com "our forwards have to do a better job of holding the ball up for us." Lionard Pajoy sometimes is much too selfish on the ball and rather than playing the simple pass back to De Rosario or Chris Pontius he instead tries to dribble between two or three defenders and is eventually dispossessed.
If United cannot conjure up any real positive interactions in the final third, expect for the manager to make immediate changes. With the growing frustration mounting, it is possible that Kyle Porter or even Marcos Sanchez could feature and be looked to making an impact on the match.
Robert Warzycha's Columbus Crew should be wary of DC United's home record as of late – DC United have not lost in their last 19 home matches which puts a fairly daunting task ahead for the visitors. However, DC United must push early in the match otherwise the Crew are capable of punishing United for their mental lapses.
First and foremost, Olsen must field a more attacking lineup to his home fixtures. Featuring a lone striker seems to not be working to DC's advantage in recent weeks and could possibly force De Rosario or Pontius further forward to feature alongside Pajoy – who may once again be replaced by Carlos Ruiz in the latter stages of the match and may just be able to provide a spark if necessary.
(image courtesy of USA Today Sports Images)