For a second straight week, Columbus Crew SC hit the road to face a team looking for its first win of the season when they visit D.C. United on Saturday night in a game at the U.S. Naval Academy.
D.C. United own an 0-3-2 so far this season, including a 3-1 loss they sustained at Columbus (3-2-1) three weeks ago. After Saturday, they’ll face an eight-match road trip over the next three months as they await the opening of their new downtown stadium, Audi Field, on July 14.
The looming road trip makes the dangling carrot of a home victory even more important. And as D.C. coach Ben Olsen tells it, his team will also be bringing in a sour taste from their last meeting with Columbus, in which he feels a non-call in the buildup to Crew SC’s final goal changed the momentum of the match.
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“That loss still burns a little bit because I thought we actually played pretty well and we felt like we were a little hard done,” Olsen said this week. “So hopefully that still stings a little bit for some of the players, and we can fix that this weekend by getting another bite at them.”
Meanwhile, Columbus enters on its own two-game losing skid after a 1-0 loss at the Chicago Fire last weekend, though not for a lack of creating chances.
The Crew outshot the Fire 21-5, only for Chicago’s Nemanja Nikolic to score on his team’s only effort on target.
A week earlier, Columbus lost at home to the Vancouver Whitecaps despite taking an early lead and again outshooting its opponents 10-5.
With that recent history, midfielder Wil Trapp believes his side will be able to match D.C.’s hunger and desperation for points.
“We’ve lost two games in a row, so we’re the same (as them),” he said. “Our energy, our preparation and realizing this week all we’re trying to do is go 1-0 and win the game, and that’s our focus.”
After scoring eight goals in its first four matches, Columbus has hit the net only once in its last two. The Crew will look to fix that against a D.C. side that has conceded an Eastern Conference high-tying 10 goals over its five games.
“I don’t think confidence is an issue,” Columbus coach Gregg Berhalter said. “We’re obviously disappointed with the results, but I think the team is fairly confident. We walked away from that game (against Chicago) and our heads weren’t down, which I think is a good thing.”