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Revolution vs. Crew SC: 4 Storylines to Follow

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A win tonight pushes the Revs closer to the MLS Cup playoffs. Can the club take home its fourth straight?

MLS: Columbus Crew SC at New England Revolution Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

Tonight, during a road match against rival Columbus Crew SC, the Revolution have a chance to surpass D.C. United and move above the red line in the Eastern Conference.

After winning its third straight league match on September 17, the Revs (9-12-9, 36 pts.) moved into 6th place in the Eastern Conference. But a D.C. United win on Saturday unseated the Revs and tightened the playoff race. Now one point back, Jay Heaps’ crew desperately needs a result vs. Columbus to stay in prime playoff position.

Crew SC (6-11-11, 29 pts.) finds itself in a similar “must win” position. The club has struggled to build on a 2015 season that ended in a trip to the MLS Cup Final, and a loss tonight would most certainly put the playoffs beyond reach. A win last weekend against Orlando City SC, the 8th-place club in the East, helped Columbus get back on track. But Ola Kamara & Co. will need more than one win to resurrect its 2016 campaign.

Here are four storylines to follow head of tonight’s match:

1. Who will break the deadlock?

In two prior meetings this season—both at Gillette Stadium—the Revs and Crew split dominant wins. Most recently, on August 20, Federico Higuain and Ethan Finlay netted first-half goals in a 2-0 victory for Crew SC. With both clubs in dire need of a win, someone will need to split the deadlock. Can a resurgent Revolution side complete the task?

2. In battle of Kamara’s, Kei looks to stay on top

In 2015, Kei Kamara led Columbus to the MLS Cup Final during a 22-goal campaign. A year later, he plays for the Revolution—and Columbus has another goal-scoring Kamara on its roster. Kei’s replacement, Ola, has put together the more impressive season, scoring 13 goals, including a tally against the Revs on July 9. But Kei has historically shined against Columbus, scoring five goals in 12 career appearances (he also scored during the July 9 match). Which Kamara will break out tonight?

3. New Formation leading the way for Revs

After faithfully deploying a 4-3-2-1 formation for most of his Revs’ tenure, Jay Heaps switched gears on August 24 and featured a 4-4-2 diamond. The move has yielded immediate results. Since making this transition, the Revs have gone 3-1-1 while accumulating a plus-five goal differential. Look for the Revs to employ the 4-4-2 again this evening with Juan Agudelo and Kei Kamara manning the forward positions.

4. Three members of MLS “24 under 24” list go head-to-head

Launched last week, MLSSoccer.com’s “24 under 24” list featured three players who will likely square off this evening. Columbus midfielder Wil Trapp, who is recovering from a concussion, led the way as the number seven overall selection; Diego Fagundez (12) and Juan Agudelo (17) also earned selections. Will one of these young talents serve as a difference-maker tonight?