After struggling in 2016 Columbus Crew made some positive changes during the offseason. Hoping to make a significant impact on Crew this year is defender Jonathan Mensah. Acquired by Columbus as a designated player on Jan. 3, Mensah will be a critical piece to a defense that allowed 58 goals last season — tied for the second most in Major League Soccer. Being paired with Harrison Afful could make for a very tough defensive line for Columbus, and quite possibly cause Dynamo fits on the offensive side of the ball. This will most likely cause the Dynamo to step up their pace of play, and their time of possession which they lost against the Sounders last weekend. The Crew will be looking to their lead goal scorer from last season forward Ola Kamara. Kamara finished his final game without a goal but took 3 shots. Another key player in this game could be midfielder Federico Higuain (Pipa). Pipa is the primary playmaker for Crew and opens up the field for guys like midfielder Ethan Finlay, Ola Kamara, and midfielder Justin Meram, which means more shot opportunities for this team.
The Dynamo are looking and sounding energized which is something that hasn’t been apparent in quite some time. After going through many changes this offseason, it’s given the city of Houston hope that the team is finally turning it around. With speed on the wings, the Dynamo look really dangerous. Guys like forward Romell Quioto, forward Alberth Elis, and forward Erick Torres are going to cause teams nightmares all season long and will make for a tough matchup Saturday night for Columbus’s back line. Expect more fireworks from Dynamo attack. That kind of healthy attack for the Dynamo will hopefully mean several goals for the team in hopes of starting 2-0 on the new season. With 3 new starters on the back line for the Dynamo, the backline will need to pick up shape against the opposing attack. The defense will be tested though, as Pipa will be trying to push the ball in the box for the exceptional strikers for Columbus. A big highlight against the Sounders last week was hometown resident goalkeeper Tyler Deric. Deric had 3 saves last week while allowing one goal by Seattle striker Clint Dempsey. But It was also great to see Deric knocking down Sounder attempts with fire and displaying a passion that only he is capable of bringing to the field. Dynamo are hoping Deric can bring that same fire and passion this week against a tough goal scoring duo that Columbus offers.
Though these are two teams coming off of underachieving 2016 seasons, this game should be fun to watch. These are two even teams looking for their new acquisitions to step up this season and hope to see them progress this week. BBVA Compass Stadium will be rocking Saturday night again. Game time is 7:30. I will be back after the game with your game recap.
Prediction: Dynamo pull it off 2-1. Another 2-1 win you say? Yes, I do. I just think that this Dynamo attack is too potent. They’re relentless, they’re quick, and their chemistry is through the proverbial roof. To have the home fans on your side is just a bonus. Dynamo starts 2-0.