Author's note: Before we begin this was intended to be this weekend's Massive Scouting Report, but due to my forgetfulness about a past meeting I forgot it was assigned to another writer.
I couldn't let my thoughts go to waste. So I hope you enjoy.
Columbus Crew SC have endured two long weeks of waiting in anticipation of eliminating the sour taste from its mouth following a disappointing 1-1 draw against the Chicago Fire on August 31st.
The draw casting a further shadow of doubt as the Black & Gold playoff chances come increasingly bleak.Things won’t get any easier as the Crew travel to Georgia for a date against Atlanta United this weekend
The Five Stripes come into Saturday’s contest looking to rebound following a loss to the Philadelphia Union. The 3-1 defeat at the hands of the Union snapped Atlanta’s three match winning streak.
Atlanta at a glance
Leading Scorer: Josef Martinez (23)
Assists Leader: Julian Gressel (9)
The last time they met
You have to go back in the calendar to March 30th to find the last matchup between these two teams in MLS competition. It was a “that game” where torrential downpours plagued fans and players on the pitch. The competitors danced around with the ball at their feet, trying to navigate through several feet of water in route to goal.
Somehow the Crew pulled off a 2-0 victory on the strength of goals by Pedro Santos and Gyasi Zardes after a lengthy weather delay.
The two teams would meet again during U.S. Open Cup competition and face similar weather conditions as Mother Nature would once against steal the headlines demonstrating her strength with impressive rainfall throughout the match.
What more can be said about Atlanta United forward Josef Martinez that hasn’t already been said? The 26-year-old is a scoring machine and continues to put goals on the board at an incredible clip. He has scored in 13 straight contests, already demolishing the former record of nine.
Perhaps the reason for his success is the dynamic play of the supporting cast around him. The Five Stripes force teams to pick their poison with other talented players such as midfielders Pity Martínez and Ezequiel Barco roaming around on the pitch.
Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, the career of Justin Meram has been resurrected since joining Atlanta United earlier this year. The former Crew winger has seamlessly integrated himself within the Five Stripes and adapted when called upon.
Once making a name for himself as a winger on offense, Meram is now commissioned with playing an unfamiliar wingback role in head coach Frank De Boer’s 3-5-2 formation. He provides service to the aforementioned Martinez and provides cover on defense.
The Iraqi international is part of a defense that has Brad Guzan two clean sheets from breaking a league record.
How Crew win
It’s going to take something special out of the Black & Gold to beat Atlanta at home. Columbus must be pass with a purpose on offense and shoot the moment the opportunity presents itself. Look for Columbus to crash the net on second ball opportunities in an effort to hammer home any loose rebounds.
Defensively the Crew must contain Martinez at all costs but can’t lose sight of the other talented Five Stripe attackers. Expect Columbus to play compact, taking away the center of the park and forcing Atlanta to beat them on the wings.