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Can Fede carry the Crew himself?
by Ridge Mahoney, August 19th, 2013 7:29PM

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TAGS:  columbus crew, mls


[MLS: Playoff Push] The Columbus Crew won back-to-back games for the first time this season with 2-0 wins over New York and Toronto FC but it is still seven points out of the playoff tier with 10 games to play.

COLUMBUS CREW:
Record: 8-11-5
First 10: 3-4-3
Last 10: 4-6-0

THE STORY SO FAR. The signs aren’t good: head coach Robert Warzycha was rebuffed in his efforts to replace defender Glauber and attacker Eddie Gaven, both injured and out for the season, and each of the Crew’s last two victories before Saturday's win over Toronto ended three-game losing streaks.

RECENT MOVES. The Hunt Era ended in Columbus with the sale of the team and Crew Stadium for a reported $68 million to Anthony Precourt, whose first home game in charge produced a 2-0 defeat of New York in front of a boisterous crowd. On the field, Justin Meram’s conversion from forward to wide midfielder gained traction with a solid game against the Red Bulls and a formation tweak necessitated by injuries to Matias Sanchez and Danny O’Rourke worked out well.

STYLE POINTS. Moments for the Crew like Federico Higuain’s elegant chip that floated over the head of keeper Luis Robles into the net have been relatively few this season. But he has back-to-back braces and nine goals and six assists in 24 games. Dominic Oduro has used his searing pace to also score nine goals. Injuries have pushed homegrown signings Chad Barson and Wil Trapp into action lately to varying results.

NEEDS WORK. Three weeks ago, the Crew lost for the first time in Toronto, and a loss in Houston a week later dropped its road record to 3-7-2. It isn’t all that great at home, either, with a 5-4-3 mark. There isn’t much punch beyond Higuain and Oduro; the rest of the team has scored just 11 goals, with merely two goals by Jairo Arrieta among the low spots.

FINAL ANSWER. Until back-to-back wins with all four goals coming from Higuain, this didn’t look like a playoff team.

REMAINING SCHEDULE:
August 24: @Real Salt Lake
August 31: Seattle
September 4: Houston
September 7: @Sporting KC
September 14: @Montreal
September 21: Chicago
September 29: @FC Dallas
October 5: Sporting KC
October 19: @New England
October 27: New England

Playoff Push Series:
Chicago
Houston
Montreal
New England
New York
Philadelphia
Portland
San Jose
Seattle
Sporting KC
Vancouver


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