D.C. United are set to pay a visit to the reigning MLS Cup Champions Columbus Crew on Saturday, the last of an injury-laden stretch of away games.
A high-flying start to the season was dampened by last weekend’s 4-1 defeat to the San Jose Earthquakes. As D.C.’s new head coach Hernán Losada warned at the beginning of the season, the team’s fitness levels have come back to bite them just three games into the campaign. But the Argentine manager has remained committed to the demanding philosophy that he says he was was hired to instill.
After drawing its first two MLS matches, Columbus is still on the hunt for its first win. A result for D.C. United would provide massive momentum as key players make their way back from injury and into the lineup.
Here’s everything you need to know.
D.C. UNITED vs. COLUMBUS CREW: HOW TO WATCH
What: D.C. United vs. Columbus Crew SC
Where: Historic Crew Stadium, Columbus, OH
When: Saturday, May 8, 2021 at 1:30 p.m. ET
TV Channel: D.C. United vs. Columbus will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (NBC Sports Channel Finder)
D.C. UNITED vs. COLUMBUS CREW TV SCHEDULE
1:00 PM: D.C. United Pregame
1:30 PM: D.C. United vs. Columbus Crew
D.C. UNITED vs. COLUMBUS CREW: WHAT TO WATCH
In his first three matches as an MLS head coach, Hernán Losada has been dealt some odd circumstances. He’s yet to have a full bench at his disposal, and against San Jose, he only had four outfield players to bring on. Midfielder Paul Arriola, goalkeeper Bill Hamid, defender Donovan Pines (Maryland) and striker Ola Kamara are among D.C. United’s most experienced players. They’re also among those who have picked up injuries since training camp, and with unclear timelines for return, their absence could continue to be felt on Saturday.
Injuries to seasoned players can lead to the sort of lapses that allowed San Jose to break through within the first minute of the game last Saturday. But they can also spell opportunity for young talents like 17-year-old Moses Nyeman, who got the sixth start of his career and, in turn, 86 minutes of valuable experience against MLS competition. The Homegrown Player from Riverdale Park, Maryland, came up with a goal-saving tackle in the first half, one of many bright moments for a player with a lot of potential. He has the potential to play a big role in Losada’s team going forward.
The Black and Red have been stretched thin by injuries, but Columbus Crew have struggled to find their footing in league play with CONCACAF Champions League (CCL) matches crowding the schedule. After a 2-2 draw in the first leg of the quarterfinals, Columbus was dominated by Liga MX side C.F. Monterey on Wednesday, ending their hopes at becoming the first American team to win the competition. While their focus can turn entirely to MLS play, they were flat in their 0-0 draws with Philadelphia and Montréal, both of which followed midweek CCL matches. Losada will look for his team to start fast in hopes that we might see more of the same from Columbus on Saturday.
D.C. UNITED vs. COLUMBUS CREW: PLAYERS TO WATCH
Yamil Asad, Midfielder, D.C. United (3 goals, 2 assists in 23 appearances in 2020): Yamil Asad’s arrival in D.C. was met with great excitement and expectation, following a strong first season with Atlanta United. His 9 goals and 8 assists in 2018 were the height of his tenure with the Black and Red thus far. With a fellow Argentine at the helm of the team and a more advanced role in the midfield, he’ll be looked at to create and finish in the final third for D.C. United as he proved capable of doing in his first two MLS seasons.
Gyasi Zardes, Forward, Columbus Crew SC (12 goals, 4 assists in 21 appearances in 2020): The Crew are still in search of their first MLS goal in 2021. All eyes will be on Columbus’ starting forward Gyasi Zardes, the team’s top scorer since arriving from LA Galaxy in 2018. He scored a brace in the first match of CCL play, but will be hungry to grab his first MLS goal as soon as he can.