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Three things to watch for against Columbus Crew

Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

We missed our 'three things to watch for' last week, which either had no effect, or, if you want to be a little more suspension-of-disbelief-y with me, it had a huge effect and we lost 4-0 to Seattle Sounders.

But it's back on the bandwagon again, and honestly, we can answer the questions we asked ahead of the FC Dallas game, because they're still things we should work on. (Excuse the stranded preposition below.)

What we've been watching for

Can we play a consistent 90 minutes?

We were consistently bad against Seattle, but that's not really what we were hoping to see. This remains something for which we are watching. (See, I fixed it.)

What will our substitution patterns look like?

We've been smart with our substitutions all season, even with the three-in-the-final-10 moment — they've been purposeful and not routine. That's got to be a temptation for a new coach, so a round of applause for Jeff Cassar, please.

Set pieces: Can we, you know, work on them?

Um... yeah... about that. We've actually been better from corners, so that's good, but we gave up silly set pieces on Saturday.

What to watch for this week

Will our midfield, you know ... move?

We've missed the sublime movement we saw in the first ten games of the season greatly, and it's been very much a problem with which we must deal. It was the same against FC Dallas as it was against Seattle, but with far graver results against Seattle.

If we don't get the midfield moving — and that's getting Luke Mulholland (or Luis Gil), Ned Grabavoy, and Cole Grossman into positions further up the pitch — then something will have to change. Two strikers can't draw a defense apart all on their lonesome, and so much of our play depends on that. Until we start scoring from set pieces ... well, let's hold off on that one.

Will we look dangerous on set pieces?

This has been a question we've been asking for some time, and we haven't really seen an answer yet. We have the right pieces to be great on set pieces, but when was the last time we scored from one? We have, in the last two weeks, looked toothless on set pieces.

We've simply got to improve there. It starts from the back and moves to the front.

Is Luis Gil ready for a start?

Let's be honest here: Luke Mulholland has been a strong player, by and large, for a single half at a time, and that's not nearly good enough. We have to get our midfield into better positions, and we have to get them tracking back properly. Mulholland's been part of that problem — and when he plays to the right of Javier Morales, who gets further forward and further back for a full 90 minutes, there's something problematic on hand.

This isn't to say that Mulholland is a bad player, or that he's not good for our system, or that he hasn't also made a good impact, but until he can play more than 45 minutes at full strength, we might have to keep our options open.