MLS Preview: Columbus Crew - Sporting Kansas City

The Columbus Crew will look to keep their recent hot streak going against a Sporting KC side trying to find its own run of consistent play heading toward the MLS playoffs.
The red-hot Columbus Crew will look to continue their recent outstanding form with a win at home on Saturday against the only team to beat them since a tide-turning coaching change.

Sporting Kansas City will look to try and close the gap on the New York Red Bulls atop the Eastern Conference with a win at Crew Stadium against the same Crew side KC beat one month ago.

Columbus has won four of five matches on the strength of an attack that is playing its best soccer of the season. The attacking tandem of Federico Higuain and Dominic Oduro has spearheaded an offense that has scored nine goals in the past three matches. Higuain's playmaking ability coupled with Oduro's blazing speed has been too much to handle for opponents in recent weeks.

The last team to slow Columbus down is Sporting KC, which posted a 3-0 shutout victory vs. the Crew on Sept. 7th. Sporting KC is coming off a disappointing 1-0 loss to Philadelphia that snapped a three-match winning streak and dropped KC four points behind the New York Red Bulls for first place in the East. Anything short of a win in Columbus could leave Sporting KC facing too large a gap to overcome, while also opening the door for the Houston Dynamo to catch Sporting for the second seed in the East.

Columbus is focused on just trying to make the playoffs. The recent run of good results have helped the Crew climb back into the picture, and a win vs. Sporting KC would help Columbus leapfrog the Chicago Fire for fifth place in the East (though New England and Philadelphia are also in range of surpassing the Fire).

Sporting KC will need to contain Oduro, who earned MLS Player of the Month honors in September after scoring goals in three straight matches. Deployed on the right wing in recent weeks, Oduro will offer a stiff test for Sporting KC left back Seth Sinovic.

Sporting KC will look to improve on the poor finishing and passing in the final third that plagued the team in last week's loss to Philadelphia. Sporting dominated possession in that match, but didn't create enough dangerous chances. Peter Vermes' side should be able to find chances against a Crew defense that has shown signs of vulnerability, as evidenced by the two goals it allowed in last week's 4-2 win vs. FC Dallas.

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