Competition: MLS Cup Playoffs (Eastern Conference Final First Leg) – Columbus Crew vs. New York Red Bulls
Venue: MAPFRE Stadium – Sunday, November 22 – 17:00 ET (22:00 GMT)
Match Odds: Columbus Crew 5/4 – Draw 12/5 – New York Red Bulls 21/20
This is a huge fixture for Crew as they can get a real feeling as to whether or not they will advance into the final if they can outplay the Red Bulls on home soil.
In the last five meetings between the sides where Columbus have been at home they’ve been extremely hard to split. Both sides have won two and the other game a draw in that time so it’s almost impossible to call which way this first leg will go.
Columbus were taken to extra time by Montreal Impact in the last round and have Kei Kamara to thank for them getting them to this match. They cannot afford to give the Red Bulls chances otherwise they will more than likely be punished and keeping a clean sheet in the home leg will be one of the priorities for Columbus on Sunday.Embed from Getty Images
New York Red Bulls will be feeling confident heading into this tie. They have been in fantastic form but still have a lot of work to do if they are to complete a Supporters’ Shield and MLS Cup double.
We can expect a similar performance to that of the first leg of the semifinals against DC United, where New York were happy to sit and wait for chances to arise on the counter.
Jesse Marsch will be looking for his side to get an away goal. As we know, losing the first leg with the consolation of an away goal keeps the second leg interesting and the Red Bulls’ approach to the game will be interesting to see.
As previously mentioned, the Red Bulls travel well away to Columbus and they have only failed to score once in their last five visits.Embed from Getty Images
Columbus Crew could be without up to three players as Kristinn Steindorsson and Mohammed Saeid are out, while Tony Tchani is a doubt. The Crew will need their top players to be on song here. Kei Kamara, Ethan Finlay and Federico Higuain have 46 goals between them this season and they need to continue to provide in this one.
New York Red Bulls are expected to be without Chris Duvall, Anatole Abang and Damien Perrinelle. Bradley Wright-Phillips and Lloyd Sam have 28 goals combined this season and their performances have been key to NYRB success. Luis Robles was awarded the Allstate goalkeeper of the season and it comes as no real surprise, he is a vital last line of defence for the Red Bulls.
Columbus Crews’ last five: L/W/W/L/W
New York Red Bulls’ last five: L/W/W/W/W
Key Stat: Columbus have scored at least two goals in eight of their last ten Major League Soccer outings. You feel they will need to score at least two in the first leg and make use of their home advantage to have to best chance of progressing.
Key Player: Kei Kamara – The Crew look a completely different side when he is playing at his best and his brace against Montreal Impact in the last round saw them progress to this stage. They will need him at his best here.Embed from Getty Images
Columbus Crew 2-1 New York Red Bulls – Crew to make home advantage count but still concede to a Red Bulls side who are very hard to stop. This will leave it perfectly poised for the second decisive leg to see who can make it to the MLS Cup Final.