United not looking to settle score in Columbus

United not looking to settle score in Columbus
April 18, 2014, 11:30 am
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The Columbus Crew spoiled the start to D.C. United’s season with a 3-0 win in the Black and Red’s home opener at R.F.K. Stadium. Saturday’s encounter against the Crew in Columbus is not about settling a score for United, but continuing to build on the past two weeks.

United understands the narrow escape it pulled off in last week’s 1-0 over the New York Red Bulls to record its second consecutive shutout.There is nothing to apologize for or for United to feel fortunate about. United earned the three points against New York. The veteran leadership on United was good enough even if at times, especially in the second half, the soccer was not.

The challenge:

  1. Respect Higuain, but not too much. Columbus Crew midfielder Federico Higuain is a big reason why the Crew sits on top of Major League Soccer’s Eastern Conference with ten points from five matches. Higuain has four goals and two assists and is in the early conversation for the MVP award. As D.C. United head coach Ben Olsen said, “Higuain is going to have an impact on the game. He is that good and he is that type of player. The key is to limit his impact.” For United the key will be to get better pressure on the ball this time against Columbus. In the 3-0 loss to the Crew, Higuain and the Crew were given too much time on the ball. In addition the Crew’s outside backs Josh Williams and Waylon Francis keep the pressure on by jumping in the attack and running the flanks for overlaps.  They have to be contained.
  2. Patience is a virtue. When United wins the ball there might be the temptation to quickly go on the attack.  That is probably not the best option against the Crew who are as organized as they are aggressive. Instead United needs to make the extra pass, switch the point of attack, and make the Crew defenders work. “I can accept 50-50 or 55-50 in possession but it cannot be 60-40 in favor of the Crew,” Olsen noted.
  3.  Johnson and the connection. Eddie Johnson is going to score. He needs to actually get more shots. Johnson’s physical presence forward is making a difference and opening up opportunities for others.  In United’s need to keep possession, Johnson has been effective at holding balls and using his strength with his back to the goal. It is not all about him. The connection with Johnson needs to be developed because he can finish.