Columbus' revival under new coach Brian Bliss has the Crew thinking playoffs, and a win against FC Dallas on Sunday could propel them onto the doorstep of a postseason spot.
Standing in the Crew's way is an FC Dallas side that is heading in the opposite direction. Consecutive losses, both courtesy of own goals, have put a halt to a promising turnaround for Dallas, which has managed just two wins in 16 matches.
The match is a must-win for Dallas, which is five points behind the Colorado Rapids for the fifth and final playoff spot in the West. Anything short of three points would leave FCD in a brutal position considering the team’s upcoming schedule, which includes three straight matches against playoff teams.
Columbus has won three of four matches since the Crew fired coach Robert Warzycha, and Bliss has done well to get the Crew attack firing and defense playing much better. Federico Higuain has found his form, while the back line has allowed just one goal in four matches.
Dallas' attack has struggled to find consistency, and won't find the going any easier against the Crew's improving defense. Speedy winger Fabian Castillo will be to trying to unsettle the Columbus defense on the flanks, while Blas Perez will work to occupy Columbus center back Chad Marshaill, who has been in outstanding form in recent weeks.
The Crew will also be looking to use its speed to crack an FC Dallas defense that has given up more own goals than regular goals in the past two weeks. Dominic Oduro has been playing well lately, scoring goals in each of the past two matches, and his pace could cause problems for Dallas center backs Matt Hedges and George John.
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