Crew need to pick up the offense
APR 27, 2013 11:09a ET
With five of their first seven games on the road, the Crew have had a tough stretch. Seven points in four games created optimism, but now the Black and Gold need points during a three game home stand.
March Showers; April Drought
The Crew's March schedule saw three games on the road with only San Jose coming to Columbus for a match. They ended the month with two wins, a loss, and a tie, scoring seven goals in four games.
Federico Higuain's play made the rest of the team look dangerous on offensive, culminating in a dazzling display at Washington, where the Crew ended United's 19 game home unbeaten streak.
The following week, Columbus came out flat and fell behind to a young Union team. It took a second half comeback to tie the game. While the Crew grabbed a point for the tie, the result was disappointing for a team with one of the strongest home records over the last five years.
Another two-game road trip followed, and the Crew opened with another tie against the Eastern Conference's second place team, the Montreal Impact.
With a chance to build momentum against Chicago, Columbus fell 1-0.
The Crew now have a chance to reestablish dominance at Crew Stadium with a three game home stand, hosting D.C. United, the New York Red Bulls, and the Colorado Rapids.
Columbus have averaged ten home wins a year since 2008, but have started off 2013 with two disappointing ties. An extended swoon would squander home field advantage.
In Search of Goals
As expected, Higuain has been the center of the offensive attack. He's had over 100 touches in six of the team's seven games - no other Crew player sees more of the ball.
It's obvious Higuain wants the ball and his teammates are looking for him. It's obvious to opponents as well, with consistent double or triple teams that force him to pass out of a crowd.
With Higuain often neutralized, others need to pick up the slack. The team had two nine goal scorers last year in Eddie Gaven and Jairo Arrieta, but they have combined for a single goal and three assists this year.
Arrieta has been replaced in the lineup by Dominic Oduro, who leads the team with three goals. There have been renewed calls by fans to find away to get the Costa Rican forward back on the field.
The Double Pivot - In Search of Goals, Part 2
The Crew play with a double pivot - Danny O'Rourke and Agustin Viana have started every game together this season. They have been active in screening the defense and stopping attacks before they get close to goal.
While their roles are primarily defensive, the double pivot is also expected to push the ball to the attackers. This is where the team of 2013 suffers compared to 2012. Neither Viana or O'Rourke have shown the offensive savvy that the Crew had in the now-departed Milovan Mirosevic.
Higuain is often asked to be a goal scorer, creator, and distributer. This year, he drops back deep into midfield to pick up the ball. Last year, Higuain could rely on Mirosevic to move the ball into dangerous spots, freeing an attack closer to goal.
Nearly a third of the season will be over by the time the Crew finish their three game home stand. It's far too early to talk about falling out of the playoff picture, but home points are too valuable to lose. Columbus fell a point shy of the 2012 playoffs and home ties or losses will certainly seem like wasted chances.
+ SHOW COMMENTS +