Breakdown: Columbus vs. FC Dallas

Which team will have the edge in Saturday's big match?

The biggest match this weekend will be waged by Columbus and FC Dallas. Both teams are very evenly matched, so MLSsoccer.com broke down each line to figure out just which team will have the slight edge in Saturday's battle at Crew Stadium.

GOALKEEPERS

William Hesmer has been solid overall, but he has rarely been asked to make the last-gasp, game-saving stop. It may come down to that on Saturday.

Statistics say that Kevin Hartman is the top 'keeper in MLS (by GAA and Saves Percentage), but it’s his ability to organize the back line that has his manager most thrilled.

Edge: FC Dallas

DEFENDERS

The center backs are established, but the fullback situation less so. An emergency right back (Frankie Hejduk’s out) and a tired rookie (Shaun Francis) or rusty veteran (Gino Padula) at left back are a concern against an FCD team that is exceptionally strong down the flanks.

The absence of Ugo Ihemelu at central defender is massive, but rookie Zach Lloyd has filled in admirably. The remainder of the back four is established and the fullbacks (Heath Pearce and Jair Benitez) are two of the best two-way players in MLS.

Edge: FC Dallas

MIDFIELDERS

Without Emmanuel Ekpo and Robbie Rogers on the left, the Crew will need to count Eddie Gaven’s ability to create havoc down the right flank. The Brian Carroll-Adam Moffat pairing in the middle will be outnumbered and also have the tricky David Ferreira to contend with.

FCD have two MVP candidates in the middle of the field in Brek Shea and Ferreira. Atiba Harris is a weapon on the right and Daniel Hernandez and Eric Alexander clog up the middle effectively.

Edge: FC Dallas

FORWARDS

While Guillermo Barros Schelotto is mainly a threat with his passing game and set pieces, Jason Garey is all over the attacking front and is coming off his best match vs. Colorado.

The lone FCD striker, Milton Rodriguez, operates at the service of the rest of the attack, holding up the ball and ensuring the rest of the team gets involved. Anonymous, but a very critical contribution.

Edge: Crew

BENCH

Injuries have the Crew bench unusually shorthanded. The muscle of Steve Lenhart and the speed of Emilio Renteria could be a key in attack down the stretch.

Jeff Cunningham is FCD’s biggest weapon among their subs. If FC Dallas are down in the match, they will likely look to emerging midfielder Eric Avila.

Edge: Crew

MANAGERS

Injuries have piled onto an emotionally draining Champions League trip to Mexico, which will make this match a challenging one for manage for Robert Warzycha despite the fact it’s being played at home. His motivational skills will be tested.

Besides two absences, Schellas Hyndman has his full lineup, seven days of rest and an 11-game unbeaten streak as incentive for his side. He also has his team playing on automatic, both at home and away.

Edge: FC Dallas