I recently spoke to Columbus Crew Assistant Technical Director, Coach, and TV Analyst Duncan Oughton to preview Sunday's match. Oughton was a player for the Crew for many seasons including their 2008 MLS Cup winning season.
On Columbus' season
"For us, it's been somewhat of a mixed season. Our record is 14-11-6 to this point and is a good record. 10-2-3 at home is really solid and the team's picked up some valuable points in some tough road games."
"The midseason acquisitions of Jairo Arrieta and Federico Higuain really helped the offensive side of the team because the defensive side was a strong point and holding the team together. Since that acquisition, we've been scoring a lot more goals but we've been leaking some goals as well."
On Jairo Arrieta
"He's not the biggest guy but he's not afraid to body up as a forward and his workrate is amazing. He's a forward that wants to pressure for 90 minutes. He wants to be out there. If he takes a knock and maybe should come off, he's trying to battle through it. He's a guy that you just love to have on your team and he can finish. We've seen him bang him eight goals so far. Three games have been multi-goal games. To have that workrate and be able to finish, whether it be instinctively around the box or running into balls finishing or creating his own with some long distance shooting. He's shown us all that with both feet."
"He's a guy that through that sheer workrate from the front makes your team defensively a more solid team."
On Federico Higuain
"He came in and just lit it up right away."
"He's a guy that stepped in and found his niche immediately. He just complimented his teammates around him the way he played and complimented our team as a whole because he was something that we were kind of missing a litle bit. Just a little bit more of that creative flair. That passing, service on free kicks, ability to put the ball in the right place and that ability to make guys around him better."
On Sporting KC
"It's just such a dangerous attacking team but really stands out for me is how solid they've been defensively as a team in only conceding 25 goals. In this league (MLS), I think is credit to the team (KC). It's really actually unbelievable with some of the attacking players that are now in this league."
On Sunday's match
"It's a massive match and not just for us here (Columbus) but its a massive match for Sporting KC as well. They could still kick on and potentially win the Supporters' Shield."
"It's going to be a hard fought game. We're lucky enough to be playing in Columbus Crew stadium where we feel confident we can beat any team on our day. In saying that, it's playing a very tough team (KC). On the road, Sporting KC have been very good winning eight road games this season so far and one of them already being in Columbus. I don't think we are going to see a friendly encounter."