Several years ago, the Shaving Cream Derby between Gillette and Barbasol began, though no one paid much attention to it. But now that the New England Revolution and Columbus Crew are playing for the Kamara Kup...
Today: the Kei Kamara Kup #NERevs #wait— Prairie Rose Clayton (@hoover_dam) July 9, 2016
(...I'm gonna let that one slide), maybe now this rivalry can have a true purpose.
Of course it would help it both teams were above the red line and right now and they're not, so Pat Murphy of Massive Report and I are just going to talk about why these two teams aren't very good. You can check out my answers to Pat's questions over on their site.
TBM: Noted Revs killer Federico Higuain will not be scoring a set piece goal in Foxboro this weekend, thankfully, so who's filling in that specific role for the Crew and where is most of the playmaking coming from now?
PM: Yes, much to New England fans excitement, Higuain will not make the trip. He remains out for a while after sports hernia surgery at the end of the Copa America break. In his place has been Mohammed Saed, who has traditionally played in the center of the midfield for Crew SC but is naturally a No. 10. The issue there is Saeid is playing with a broken vertebrae in his back which, as he told me this week, has really limited his movement on the field. Last week, Gregg Berhalter left Saeid out of the lineup to help him heal and rest and played Hector Jimenez in his spot.
I expect Saeid to return to the starting lineup this week and maybe two weeks healthier will make him more productive because that position has not been what it was with Higuain in the lineup. The playmaking, when it occurs, has come from other places. The wings (both midfielders and fullbacks) have provided some of that, but the consistency and typical production has certainly been lacking.
TBM: Ola Kamara has stepped up well for Columbus up top, but like New England it's the defense that seems to be letting the team down. Give us an overview on both sides of the ball and what's the biggest issue the Crew have right now that if fixed could mean three points on the road today?
PM: It's been a different issue every week it feels like for Columbus. The defense hasn't been great with Gaston Sauro out with a torn PCL, but two weeks ago the back line did well enough to hold the high-scoring New York Red Bulls to one goal and it still took this offense nearly 90 minutes to produce a goal.
Crew SC's style doesn't cater to a great defense statistically so the offense must produce and it hasn't done so at the same vigor as last year. Even before Kei Kamara went to New England, it was very hit or miss. There was a 0-0 game in Chicago early in the year where I didn't know I was watching the Black & Gold with how boring things were. Once Kei left, the team had to learn to play with Ola, who does not possess the same athletic explosion and versatility that his predecessor does. Ola now looks comfortable with his teammates so it's cleaning up little mistakes like not marking Matt Besler on a corner kick as the game is about to end.
The potential is still there for this team to be really good, but the time to show it is beginning to run out.
TBM: Okay, if you had to pick either the Crew or the Revs to make the playoffs right now, who do you pick and why?
PM: The Revs. The first reason is obvious in that New England is three points closer to reaching that line. Second is the schedule. Both teams have struggled on the road this year, that much is clear. If we assume that these clubs don't have a remarkable turnaround before the finals days and are fighting for a playoff spot come the season's end, Crew SC plays three straight road games to close out 2016. Meanwhile the Revs have two of the team's final three matches at home. That could be a big advantage.
Finally, Kei Kamara. In watching him in the three matches I have with New England since the trade, I don't think he's quite settled. He doesn't look as comfortable with his teammates as he did in Columbus and I'm not sure Jay Heaps has figured out how best to use him. This is only natural in a mid-season trade, but I think time will help rectify this. Kei is too good to not end up near the 20 goal threshold again this season and I think that's a big boost for a team crawling towards the playoffs. He's certainly motivated to win something after the disappointment a year ago and I've personally watched him put a team on his back. He can do that with the Revs assuming the fit continues to work itself out.
Harrison Afful-Michael Parkhurst-Chad Barson-Waylon Francis
Ethan Finlay-Tony Tchani-Wil Trapp-Justin Meram
Prediction: Revs 2 Crew SC 1