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Behind enemy lines: Scouting Columbus Crew

Philadelphia Union v Columbus Crew SC Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

Real Salt Lake now travel to Columbus, Ohio to pay a visit to the 2015 Eastern conference finalist in MLS Cup. After a strong season to come up just short of the Cup, the Crew have had a sputtering start out of the gate in 2016. Currently at 9th in the East, the Crew will look to pick up three points at home this weekend against RSL.

MLS: Columbus Crew SC at Toronto FC Kevin Sousa-USA TODAY Sports


The Crew feature a veteran in goal with 30 year old Steve Clark. The American net-minder has European experience after playing in Norway for three years before coming back home to play for Columbus in 2014. Clark has made the 4th most amount of saves in MLS with 44 and will aim to carry his form to shutdown Real's recently re-born attack.

MLS: Columbus Crew SC at Toronto FC Kevin Sousa-USA TODAY Sports


The center of the Columbus back-line will feature another veteran with European experience as well in Michael Parkhurst. Parkhurst additionally featured for the United States national team occasionally over the span of his seven year international career. The captain of Columbus will look to carry over his veteran leadership after the side lost his central defensive partner Gaston Sauro last week against Toronto. Sauro had started in seven of his last eight appearances and will likely miss four to five months after tearing his PCL. The Crew's defense has a multitude of injuries as fellow center backs Tyson Wahl and Chad Barson also nurse injuries. They will have a race against time to see if they can muster up enough fitness to feature this weekend. The wide areas of the defense will star Harrison Afful and Corey Ashe looking to contribute on both sides of the pitch.

MLS: Columbus Crew SC at Toronto FC Kevin Sousa-USA TODAY Sports


The Crew present a number of dangerous midfield players that can hurt you from the left, right or center. The key cog in the midfield creativity is 31 year old Argentine Federico Higuain. Higuain's younger brother Gonzalo has just surpassed records in Italy after scoring a blistering 35 goals for Napoli in Serie A. The talent runs richly through the Higuain family, but Columbus also feature skilled wingers Ethan Finlay and Justin Meram. Both played a key part in the Crew's run last season that nearly resulted in them obtaining the cup. The defensive responsibilities in the midfield will fall to Wil Trapp and Tony Tchani if fit. If Tchani misses out, Mohammed Saeid will likely serve as the replacement.

MLS: Columbus Crew SC at Toronto FC Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports


The glaring hole in the Columbus team is at the team's striker position. After starting the season with the ever dangerous Kei Kamara, on field dramatics paired with an icy relationship with Federico Higuain saw Columbus send him to New England a couple of weeks ago. The 31 year old Kamara was the source of 26 Crew goals last year. The burden now falls on 26 year old Norwegian Ola Kamara (no relation to Kei) to lead the Columbus attack.

MLS: Columbus Crew SC at Toronto FC Kevin Sousa-USA TODAY Sports