Columbus Crew travel to the Red Bull Arena to face New York Red Bulls on Sunday night, in an Eastern Conference playoff rehearsal.
Both sides will be on a high going in to this game after wins at the weekend have all but sealed their places in the playoffs, though Columbus will be keeping an eye on Toronto’s result against Montreal on Saturday night as if the Reds fail to win, the Crew will be guaranteed a playoff spot.
New York have guaranteed a top-5 finish after three first half goals set up a comfortable 3-1 victory at home to Toronto last Saturday.
Meanwhile, Columbus Crew scored three goals in four second-half minutes against the Philadelphia Union to come from behind and claim a remarkable 3-2 win at the weekend and are now in a solid position themselves.Embed from Getty Images
That victory means that they now only need one more point to mathematically confirm their place in the playoffs.
Despite appearing at first glance as though it may be a nothing game, both sides will be desperate to get a win as the implications of finishing 4th or 5th could be crucial to any potential MLS Cup success, and they could well be playing each other in the first playoff game at the end of the month.
Though both teams will be vying to finish in the top three to avoid that extra playoff game.
New York have struggled away from home this season but their current home form is a frightening prospect with 7 straight wins and no defeat in 10.
New York Red Bulls home form: Played 16 – Won 10 – Drawn 4 – Lost 2
Columbus Crew will be determined to pick up the point they need to seal their playoff place, so they will want to avoid a repeat of their last visit to the Red Bull Arena which ended in a 4-1 loss back in July.
Recent history is not their side though, as they have failed to win at the Red Bull Arena in their last 4 attempts – their last victory in New York was on May 20, 2010 when they ran out 3-1 winners.
Columbus Crew’s away form: Played 16 – Won 4 – Drawn 6 – Lost 6
Key Player: Bradley Wright-Phillips – The Englishman is on fire at the moment and he is just three goals away from setting the record as the highest goalscorer in a single MLS season.
He is on 25 goals for the season and the previous best is 27 – a record set by Roy Lassiter of Tampa Bay Mutiny in Major League Soccer’s inaugural season in 1996.
Chris Wondolowski then matched Lassiter’s tally of 27 in the 2012 season for San Jose Earthquakes.
Key Stat: New York Red Bulls have scored in every home game so far this season, so it is unlikely that this one will end goalless.
New York Red Bulls last five: D/W/L/W/W
Columbus Crew’s last five: D/W/W/L/W
Prediction: New York Red Bulls 2 – 1 Columbus Crew