Competition: Major League Soccer – Columbus Crew vs. New York City FC
Venue: MAPFRE Stadium – Saturday, April 16 – 19:30 ET (00:30 BST)
Match Odds: Columbus 10/11 – Draw 13/5 – NYCFC 3/1
Columbus have started the new season in terrible form. They have yet to win a game and have lost three of their opening five.
Last weekend’s 2-0 loss to Montreal saw the Crew fail to score for the second time in their last three matches and the team is not playing with the same attacking freedom that they showed last year.
Gregg Berhalter will be concerned but knows there is a long time left to turn things around. They need to give the home fans something to cheer about on Saturday as they try and lift themselves from the foot of the Eastern Conference.
New York City sit in fifth place heading into the weekend – a position they will be pleased with – but there is reason for concern, having not won since the opening day of the campaign.
What is perhaps more worrying for head coach Patrick Vieira is that their last four matches have all been at home, yet they have not been able to capitalise as they have picked up just three points from a possible 12 in that time.
Their only away trip so far brought success (and lots of goals) as they beat Chicago 4-3 on the opening night. A 0-0 draw against the Fire last weekend proved they have solidified defensively in a short space of time but they need to be more clinical in front of goal, having netted once in their last three.
These two sides met twice last season, with Columbus yet to lose to NYCFC. The pair drew 2-2 in Columbus in August, before the Crew recorded a 2-1 win at Yankee Stadium 10 days later.
Columbus Crew look set to be without injured trio Corey Ashe, Conor Casey and Gaston Sauro for the visit of NYCFC. However, all are only suffering with minor injuries and will be fighting to be fit in time.
New York City have three injuries of their own to worry about. Frank Lampard has yet to make an appearance this term and is set to miss out again with an ongoing calf problem, while Connor Brandt and Jack Harrison are also ruled out.
Columbus Crew’s last five: L/L/D/D/L
New York City’s last five: W/D/L/D/D
Key Stat: Columbus Crew are winless through their first five games for just the third time in their history (2004 & 2009). Failure to win on Saturday would see them record their second-longest winless start to a season yet. The longest stretch was seven matches in the 2009 campaign.
Key Player: Federico Higuain – The Columbus playmaker, like many of his teammates, has endured a slow start to the 2016 season. However, he possesses the quality to unlock any defence and will hope to inspire the Crew to a much-needed victory on Saturday evening.
Columbus Crew 1-1 New York City – This is a big game for both sides as they look to recover from poor runs of form here. This has the makings of an open and attacking game, packed with chances. However, both sides have been lacking a clinical edge in front of goal and so there might not be as many goals as there perhaps should be. It could be a case of both sides cancelling each other out as a score draw looks likely.