This match has got a tight affair written all over it. New York Red Bulls are fairly safe at the higher end of the table but Columbus Crew are in desperate need of a win, currently on 42 points and in sixth place on the eastern conference table.
The two sides have met each other 27 times in the past with Columbus Crew having the better head-to-head record. They’ve won 11, drawn seven and lost nine.
There isn’t a lot between the two sides and New York Red Bulls certainly don’t need to pay a lot of heed to this. Columbus Crew are playing this match at home and everything suggests a win but they haven’t really played with the sort of conviction this season that would push anyone to wager a bet on them in a game like this. A draw seems like the most likely outcome with New York Red Bulls’ lack of flair in the final third also likely to play a part.
The two sides last met in March and to no one’s surprise, the match ended in a 1-1 draw. Both sides had to wait for their goals. Eloy Room scored what looked like the winner in the 84th minute for New York Red Bulls but Columbus Crew equalized five minutes into the 90 thanks to Darlington Nagbe for a dramatic outcome. A draw probably won’t be enough for Columbus Crew this time around. They’ll have to do more if they are going to make it to the playoffs.
A 95th minute dagger from Santiago Moreno stopped Columbus Crew from getting all the points over the weekend against the Portland Timbers. Columbus Crew got the lead thanks to Kevin Molino in the 36th minute and it looked like that was going to be enough to take home all three points before the Timbers equalized in the dying minutes of the match.
Columbus Crew will rue some of the chances they missed, having taken 15 shots on the day but they weren’t clinical enough and this lack of conviction might be a stumbling block in their aspirations for a playoff spot.
A lot of big names joined the MLS in the summer. Cucho Hernandez isn’t as big as some of them but his impact has been as good as anyone’s in MLS history.
He’s scored nine goals and registered two assists from 15 matches. If it wasn’t for him, Columbus Crew wouldn’t have even been in the discussions for a playoff spot. He’s tied with Lucas Zelarayan for the most goals in the side and Zelarayan has been playing all season, which shows the real lack of quality in the side when Hernandez isn’t around and the sort of impact he has had on this team.
He has overperformed a bit because his expected goals rating is just 6.00 but many of his early goals came in substitute appearances. He’ll want to make sure that his efforts don’t go in vain.
The team has conceded 36 goals so far this season, which is a respectable number considering their start to the season. Only Philadelphia Union have conceded fewer goals than Columbus Crew. This would suggest that they should be a bit higher in the table but their start to the season was so bad that they’ve had to play catch up this whole time and it might have taken a toll on them as we head to the end of the regular season.
The underlying numbers in defense also look quite good with an expected goal against value of 37.2, which is up there with the best sides in the division. The future looks bright for Columbus Crew. They’ve got the makings of a squad that can be competitive for quite some time and they can’t let that forward momentum down by not qualifying for the playoffs.
New York Red Bulls lost 2-0 to their city rivals on the weekend and it was a disappointing result for many reasons. New York City FC were heading into this match in terrible form, as far as the MLS is concerned at least. They hadn’t won a match in their last seven MLS outings and this was a great chance for the New York Red Bulls to show their superiority.
The Red Bulls made a terrible start, conceding in the opening minute to Alexander Callens before Santiago Rodriguez scored a second. New York Red Bulls had no answer and New York City FC were able to shut up shop easily. Many of the big question marks around the Red Bulls raised their heads in this one.
For the New York Red Bulls, the attention should now be on keeping all their best players fit for the playoffs. They play a very high intensity style and it can take its toll on players over the course of a season.
They’ll need them fit and firing in the playoffs. Their style is suited to top opposition because they prefer teams who like to keep a lot of the ball. They just have to make sure that they can run a little extra hard when these games come up.
It never really looked like the New York Red Bulls were going to score after they went down. They only had one shot on target all game.
Their pressing style depends heavily on what the opposition do, which is why carving out chances on their own is not something they seem quite capable of.
The pressing style is perfect for a side trying to get on the up but once you are in the upper echelons of the table, you need to add some guile in the final third as well to break down every type of opponent. It’s time for the New York Red Bulls to take that step. There’s no guarantee they’ll win this tie against a tough defense like Columbus Crew.
|Teams||Columbus Crew vs New York Red Bulls|
|Time||Saturday, 1 October at 7:30 pm ET onwards|
|How to watch||ESPN+, DAZN, Bally Sports Ohio, and MSG|
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Varun is a web journalist who has been writing on sports for 13 years. He took a shine for the MLS during the 2021 season and has been following it and writing about it since, alongside his work involving the English Premier League, La Liga, and the Serie A. He is deeply interested in soccer analytics and strategy and has aspirations to move into coaching at some point. Email: [email protected]More info on Varun Shetty
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