Kamara vs Union

Know Your Opponent: Columbus Crew SC

This week the Union (3-8-3) play host to the Columbus Crew (4-4-4) in PPL Park on Wednesday June 3. Kickoff is at 7 p.m. and the game will be broadcast on The Comcast Network.

What you need to know:

Since winning the MLS Cup in 2008, Columbus Crew SC have been a middle of the table team, sometimes impressing with brilliant displays of power and skill, and other times leaving their fans in agony. This year, however, Crew SC seem to have put it together and are now a very dangerous team, especially when on the attack.

Building off last year’s third place regular season finish, Crew SC have come alive, ripping through some of the top teams in the league. Through 12 games, the team has managed to get 16 points, good enough for fifth place in the Eastern Conference.

Under former U.S. Men’s National Team defender Gregg Berhalter, Columbus has scored the third most goals in the league, putting 19 into the back of the net. But despite their 19 goals for, they have let up 16, leading to a goal differential of only plus-3.

Crew SC are big fans of trying to whip the ball into the box off of crosses or corners, leading to a lot of headed chances being deflected towards the goal. They have scored three headed goals while managing to put eight headed shots on target. With a total of 86 crosses and corners completed, look for Columbus to try to do much of the same this Wednesday. They will be missing central defender Michael Parkhurst, who will be serving a one-game suspension following his red card against Orlando City on Sunday. Parkhurst had started all 12 games for Columbus this season.

Players to watch out for:

Kei Kamara, Forward: Kamara is quite possibly the most dangerous man in the MLS at the moment. So far this year he has scored 10 goals in 12 games, including three games in which he recorded a brace. Kamara also has two assists to go along with his 10 goals, meaning he’s been a direct factor in 12 of Columbus’ 19 goals.

Steve Clark, Goalkeeper: A lot of how Columbus play is dependent upon Clark, their starting goalkeeper. Through 12 games, he has 42 saves while allowing 16 goals, holding a record of 4-4-4. These aren’t bad outputs from a goalkeeper, but when you consider the fact that their offense is so potent, they could be on top of the league if Clark and the defense play with some consistency.

Federico Higuain, Forward/Midfielder: It is hard to talk about the Crew and not mention their perennial star, Federico Higuain. Since joining the club in 2012, Higuain has scored 29 goals and recorded 25 assists in 82 matches. While the introduction of Kamara has taken away many of Higuain’s scoring chances, he is still the key piece in midfield that gets the offense going.

Probable line-up:

Goalkeeper: Steve Clark
Defenders: Waylon Francis, Emanuel Pogatetz, Tyson Wahl, Chris Klute
Midfielders: Justin Meram, Tony Tchani, Federico Higuain, Mohammed Saeid, Ethan Finlay
Forward: Kei Kamara

Facts and Figures:
The Union are 3-9-1 against Crew SC, with a 3-3-0 record against them at PPL Park. In their last match-up on April 25, Columbus beat the Union 4-1 in Columbus, with Ethan Finlay scoring two goals. Eric Ayuk scored the only goal for the Union, the first in his MLS career.

Crew SC have struggled on the road, only scoring four of their 19 goals, while letting up 1.5 goals per game. They are also winless on the road, with three draws and three losses in six games.

The Union are coming off a 2-1 loss against D.C. United on Sunday, while Columbus is coming off a 2-2 draw against Orlando City SC on Sunday.

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