Sporting Kansas City vs Columbus Crew | 2018 MLS Preview and Prediction

Major League Soccer: Sporting Kansas City vs Columbus Crew

Children’s Mercy Park – Sunday, May 27th 2018 – 18:00 ET (23:00 BST)

UK TV Coverage – Live on Sky Sports Football

Sporting Kansas City vs Columbus Crew: Preview

Sporting Kansas City welcome Columbus Crew to Children’s Mercy Park in Sunday’s lone MLS fixture. They are both in great form and so both will be looking to mark their superiority with another three points here.

The hosts come into the weekend at the top of the Western Conference. They will stay their regardless of results this weekend but will be hoping to add another three points to their tally of 24 points from 12 games.

Peter Vermes’ men have lost just one of their last 11 games and are unbeaten in three coming into Sunday’s contest. They are a really tough outfit to break down at home and so the Crew have their work cut out if they are to take points back to Columbus.

However, the visitors couldn’t arrive in much better confidence. They have rolled off three-straight wins and sit just one point behind Atlanta United at the top of the East heading into the weekend’s fixtures.

The Crew haven’t conceded a goal in any of their last four games and are currently unbeaten in six. They will be looking to frustrate SKC on Sunday, before hitting them on the break whenever possible. New York City FC executed that strategy to perfection on the opening weekend and remain the only side to have won in Kansas City this season.

The worry for Columbus is that they have now managed to take anything away from Sporting KC since 2012. They’ve lost each of their last four MLS games at SKC, conceding 11 goals in the process. Their lone meeting last season ended in a 1-1 draw at MAPFRE Stadium.

Sporting Kansas City vs Columbus Crew: Team News

Sporting KC

❌ Suspensions: None.

❓ Doubts: Jimmy Medranda (undisclosed injury).

🚑 Out: Felipe Gutierrez (sports hernia surgery), Colton Storm (ankle sprain).

Columbus Crew

❌ Suspensions: None.

❓ Doubts: None.

🚑 Out: Pedro Santos (right thigh injury).

Sporting Kansas City vs Columbus Crew: Key Stats

Sporting KC’s MLS form: W/L/W/W/D

Columbus Crew’s MLS form: W/D/W/W/W

Key stat: There has never been a 0-0 draw between these sides in 20 years of clashes. Their last five meetings have had an average of 3.8 goals per game.

Sporting Kansas City vs Columbus Crew: Prediction

Sporting Kansas City 1-1 Columbus Crew: This is a really tricky one to call. Sporting Kansas City are in good form and are a real force at home. They sit top of the West for a reason and will be relishing the challenge of an in-form Crew side. But the form Columbus are in means it’s hard to see them losing. They have been solid defensively and should create problems for Sporting KC here. Score draw.

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In pictures: Sounders fail to score in disappointing draw with 10-man Columbus

It was a disappointing return home to CenturyLink Field for Seattle Sounders FC as they spent the majority of the match a man up but failed to score against Columbus Crew SC in a 0-0 draw.

The Sounders were dealt a fortunate hand 15 minutes in when Pedro Santos’s high boot caught the face of Alex Roldan, prompting head referee Hilario Grajeda to issue a straight red card after going to video review. Columbus responded in turn by substituting off Cristian Martinez for Alex Crognale and putting every man behind the ball while Seattle was in possession. Seattle struggled to break down the Columbus defence and resorted to trying to get the ball to wide positions to limited success and the attack consistently faltered in the final third.

When Seattle stole possession from Columbus, the counter-attack lacked impetus and the Crew were back with everyone behind the ball before the Sounders could get into a dangerous position. “You have to try and be more quick with the ball and find the middle of the field more quick,” said Osvaldo Alonso. “Pass the ball and try to find the forward. We played good defence and we tried to score and it didn’t happen.”

While they had limited chances in the second half, the best chances of the game came from Columbus when down a man. Gyasi Zardes had an early look that he pushed just wide of goal in the 22nd minute and in the 36th helped to create a chance for Milton Valenzuela that ended up over the bar from inside the six yard box.

With the lion share of possession and 17 shots taken to Columbus’s five, Seattle controlled much of the match but still struggled to test goalkeeper Zach Steffen. Columbus was defensively sound, putting as many men as possible in the 18 yard box to make it more difficult for Seattle to break them down. The Sounders lacked the creativity to get in between the defensive line of Columbus and spent most of their attacks probing the back four but not stretching them. “We’re disappointed in the result. It’s not good enough. I’ll make sure that we watch this tape and we work on attacking movements to try and break that final line and be a little more creative,” said coach Brian Schmetzer.

“You know we moved the ball too slow. I mean the few times when they did get into our end of the field and we won possession of the ball we need to sprint, we need to get down the field before they get a chance to get bunkered in. So we will look at that and the coaching staff will train that to make sure that we create more good opportunities.”

“I think everybody in the stadium knew we were gonna get it and push it wide and try to cross it,” said Will Bruin. “You got to find other ways to create chances and you know we just haven’t been able to do it.

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“We got to be willing to take chances. We gotta get some creativity, some flair, we got to move the ball quicker, like I said we got to pass and move we got to try things. I think we’re too caught up with playing the simple pass and you know, ‘I’m not gonna make the mistake I’m just gonna move it to the next guy.’ And you’re not gonna score like that its so easy to defend and thats a prime example tonight.

“We need to find a solution to this because if you can’t tell I’m pretty frustrated right now. We’re gonna look at film tomorrow and I mean I hope we look at ways to exploit Toronto and ways we can attack them… I just hope we can generate some goals.”

Seattle’s busy week continues as they travel to defending champions Toronto FC on Wednesday before returning to the West Coast to take on local rivals Portland Timbers on Sunday.

Columbus Crew vs DC United | 2018 MLS Preview and Prediction

Major League Soccer: Columbus Crew vs DC United

MAPFRE Stadium – Saturday, March 25 2018 – 18:00 ET (22:00 GMT)

UK TV Coverage: Live on Sky Sports Football

Columbus Crew vs DC United: Preview

Saturday evening sees Columbus Crew take on Eastern Conference rivals DC United live on Sky Sports Football for UK fans.

Columbus Crew sit second in the East after failing to make it three wins in a row to start their 2018 campaign. Their 0-0 draw with Philadelphia did however keep their unbeaten run intact and they will be hoping to continue that streak here.

An impressive start to the season has been helped by the partnership formed by new signing Gyasi Zardes and Crew SC favourite Federico Higuain. Although they failed to combine to break the deadlock last time out, they are already proving to be a very real threat to opposition defences.

DC’s comeback from being two goals down at half-time to draw 2-2 last weekend against Houston will have been celebrated like a win. They showed great desire not to let the scoreline get on top of them and it stopped it being two losses on the bounce.

It hasn’t been the ideal start to 2018 for the Black-and-Red, who are yet to win a game. This wouldn’t exactly be the fixture of choice in that hunt for three points for the DC faithful either, as they have failed to win in ten on the road against Columbus.

However, all winless runs have to come to an end at some point and that is exactly what Ben Olsen will be reminding his side of ahead of this one.

Columbus Crew vs DC United: Team News

Columbus Crew

🌎 International duty: Zack Steffen and Wil Trapp

❌ Suspensions: None.

❓ Doubts: None.

🚑 Out: Mike Grella (left knee) and Gaston Sauro (left knee).

DC United

🌎 International duty: Oniel Fisher, Dane Kelly, Ulises Segura, Zoltan Stieber and Bruno Miranda

❌ Suspensions: None.

❓ Doubts: None.

🚑 Out: Russell Canouse (knee), Taylor Kemp (groin) and Junior Moreno.

Columbus Crew vs DC United: Key Stats

Columbus Crew’s MLS form: W/W/D

DC United’s MLS form: D/L/D

Key stat: Columbus Crew are unbeaten in their last ten home games against DC United.

Columbus Crew vs DC United: Prediction

Columbus Crew 2-1 DC United: Given their strong start to 2018 and home record against DC, Columbus will be going into this one looking at it as a must win game. They will want to bounce back to winning ways after their draw last weekend and have a great chance of doing so here. DC won’t roll over easily. This fixture is far from a foregone conclusion and they have more than enough talent to come away from Columbus with a point at the very least. But it is a real possibility that history will repeat itself and we see DC going home empty handed.

MLS debutants run riot on opening weekend

The opening weekend of MLS has set the tone for the rest of the season. There was plenty of drama with goals, video assistant referees, red cards and shock results. However, one astonishing stat that has come from week one was from MLS debutants.

A total of 26 goals were scored across the ten games with nine of those coming from debutants – which equates to 35% of the goals scored on opening weekend.

What makes it all the more impressive is that all nine goal scorers came from different clubs, adding to the excitement.

WATCH 📹 – Take a look at all nine debutant goals from week one

Toronto FC vs Columbus Crew | 2018 MLS Match Preview and Prediction

Major League Soccer: Toronto FC vs Columbus Crew 

BMO Field – Saturday, March 3rd 2018 – 13:00 ET (18:00 GMT)

Toronto FC vs Columbus Crew: Preview

MLS is back. It’s been 12 weeks since Toronto FC beat Seattle to be crowned 2017 MLS Cup Champions at BMO Field and the new season will begin on the same turf. The reigning champs will open the 2018 season against the Columbus Crew. It was Toronto who ended the Crew’s season last time out, but they will kick it off on Saturday afternoon. The standings are reset and 23 teams have fresh hopes of glory as we enter what should be an incredible 2018 campaign.

There have been several MLS Cup winners of past who have seen their squads weaken over the course of the following offseason. But that’s not been the case in Toronto. If anything, the Reds have strengthened. Signings like Auro, Gregory van der Wiel and Ager Aketxe should ensure Toronto remain as strong, if not stronger as they were last year.

Greg Vanney’s men come into the game off the back of their CONCACAF Champions League Round of 16 win over the Colorado Rapids. That two-legged tie will have injected some early match fitness into the Toronto legs, but they will also now have one eye on next Wednesday’s quarterfinal clash with Tigres.

That could well play into Columbus’ hands. Yes, they are facing the reigning champions on their own soil. Yes, Columbus have a lot of new faces who need time to adapt. But the Crew will be out for revenge and are facing a Toronto side who will undoubtedly have one eye on the Tigres clash.

Gregg Berhalter has had a tough offseason. The ongoing doubts about the team’s possible relocation to Austin still linger, while key players such as Ola Kamara and Justin Meram have departed to league rivals. Replacements such as Gyasi Zardes and Mike Grella have come in but it might take Columbus a few games to get used to their new-look attack.

These two met in last season’s Eastern Conference Final, with Toronto advancing to MLS Cup after a narrow 1-0 aggregate win. Columbus did beat Toronto 2-1 in the first of their three regular season clashes but they haven’t won at BMO Field since 2015.

Toronto FC vs Columbus Crew: Team News

Toronto FC

❌ Suspensions: None

❓ Doubts: None

🚑 Out: None

(Take a look at all Toronto FC’s key transfer business this winter by clicking the image above)

Columbus Crew

❌ Suspensions: None

❓ Doubts: None

🚑 Out: None

(Take a look at all Columbus Crew’s key transfer business this winter by clicking the image above)

Toronto FC vs Columbus Crew: Key Stats

Toronto FC’s MLS form: N/A

Columbus Crew’s MLS form: N/A

Key stat: Columbus Crew have failed to score in their last four trips to BMO Field, losing their last three trips on the spin. However, last time they did find the net away at Toronto, they went on to win the game 2-0, back in October 2015.

Toronto FC vs Columbus Crew: Prediction

Toronto FC 2-0 Columbus Crew: It might be a new season but the same is expected from Toronto as they look to start the new campaign by once again proving their dominance in MLS. The Reds were simply unstoppable last season, particularly at home and it will take something special for the Crew to leave with anything on opening day. Toronto are rightly favourites and it’s difficult to look past them.

2018 Key Transfers: Columbus Crew

With the 2018 MLS season drawing ever closer, we will be running through the key additions and losses for all 23 teams over the course of the winter transfer window. There have been a number of key signings and significant trades which should ensure the new season is as exciting as ever before. Today we take a look at Columbus Crew’s key transfers and what it could mean for them in the 2018 MLS season…

Columbus Crew are heading into the 2018 season with plenty of uncertainty still surrounding the club. Relocation concerns are still hanging over the franchise and key players have moved on to rival teams. Gregg Berhalter is preparing for his fifth-straight season as the Crew head coach but he knows the team needs some more firepower if they are to make the playoffs once again. They finished fifth last term after a strong end to the season and beat Atlanta and New York City FC in the playoffs. However, they couldn’t get past Toronto FC in the Eastern Conference Championship game. They ended the season on a high, on the field, and need to try and hit the ground running with a new-look team this time around…

Key Signings

Mike Grella: Grella has proven himself as a dangerous playmaker in MLS since joining the Red Bulls ahead of the 2015 season. He scored 16 goals and added 13 assists in his first two seasons with the Red Bulls but was ruled out for the season back in June last year. He was picked up by Colorado in the re-entry draft but instantly traded to Columbus in return for a second-round draft pick in 2019. The Crew will hope he can stay injury-free and settle quickly into a new-look Columbus attack.

Gyasi Zardes: Alongside Grella will be fellow new arrival Gyasi Zardes, who has been sent to Columbus from the Galaxy following a big trade for Ola Kamara. Zardes had been with his hometown club for five-straight years, but saw his involvement drop off massively over the past two seasons as a result of injury troubles and poor form. He needs to play more games, and should get that opportunity with the Black and Gold. He also needs to play in his natural attacking position, after being deployed at right-back during the latter stages of his time with the Galaxy. He has the potential to be a hit, but it’s a major ask for him to replace Kamara’s goals.

Milton Valenzuela: This is a player to look out for in 2018. The 19-year-old left-back has joined the Crew as a Designated Player on loan from Newell’s Old Boys with the option to buy. Valenzuela will be classed a Young Designated Player this season and is expected to be a regular starter at left-back, replacing the departed Jukka Raitala and Waylon Francis. He is an attacking full-back, who should suit Gregg Berhalter’s attacking style of play perfectly. Expect him to impress.

Notable Departures

Waylon Francis: The loss of Francis means Columbus are left thin at left-back. Raitala also left and although Valenzuela has arrived, the absence of Francis in the dressing room could be a blow after spending the past four seasons with the club. He has joined the Seattle Sounders, where he will hope to see more game time after two consecutive years of struggling to nail down a regular starting berth with the Crew.

Ola Kamara: Kamara’s exit had looked on the cards for some time and it was made official following the 2018 MLS SuperDraft as LA Galaxy sent Zardes and $400,000 in allocation money the Crew’s way. Kamara scored 34 goals in 59 appearances for Columbus over two seasons and his absence will more than likely be felt. Particularly if Zardes fails to hit the ground running.

Kekuta Manneh: Manneh was expected to be a hit in Columbus after joining from the Whitecaps last year but he managed just four goals and three assists in 19 games. He was offered a contract to remain with the Crew for the 2018 season but has decided to make the move the Liga MX instead with Pachuca. His loss adds to depth problems in attack as things stand, with Kamara and Meram’s departures leaving Columbus short of options in attack.

Justin Meram: Columbus made it clear they wouldn’t let Meram leave the club unless they received a significant offer this winter. That was even after the winger had made it clear he was looking for a move, as a result of relocation concerns and because he was looking for a new challenge. Everyone ended up happy. Meram got a new challenge and Columbus received a significant offer as Orlando City sent $1.05 million in allocation money as well as an international roster spot. Meram’s loss will no doubt be felt, both on the field and off it. He was a fan favourite after being drafted in 2011, going on to score 37 goals in 188 games.

MLS Playoffs Preview and Prediction: Toronto FC vs Columbus Crew

2017 MLS Cup Playoffs – Eastern Conference Final (2nd Leg): Toronto FC vs Columbus Crew

BMO Field – Wednesday, November 29 – 19:30 ET (00:30 GMT)

Match Odds: Toronto 4/7 – Draw 4/1 – Columbus 3/1

Toronto FC vs Columbus Crew: Preview

The Eastern Conference Final second leg is finely poised as Toronto FC welcome Columbus Crew to BMO Field. The scoreless draw at MAPFRE Stadium a week ago means there has to be a goal for this one to be settled in normal time.

Toronto FC head coach Greg Vanney has been named MLS coach of the year. He will be looking for his side to progress here. But as the first leg proved, the two can be difficult to separate.

Their effective performance in the first leg has given them the ideal platform ahead of this game. Toronto are favourites to reach the MLS Cup Final, but they cannot take that for granted.

Embed from Getty Images

Columbus Crew struggled to break Toronto down and were frustrated in the first leg. By failing to score they have missed a good opportunity to put TFC on the back foot.

But Crew SC know that they can actually reach the final without winning the game. A score draw will be enough to take them through.

Gregg Berhalter will need to have his side well drilled and prepared to deal with a much stronger Toronto. They cannot afford to try and sit back too much, but by the same token they cannot play with an overly expansive style.

Embed from Getty Images

Toronto FC vs Columbus Crew: Team News

TFC welcome back Sebastian Giovinco and Jozy Altidore for the second leg. The squad is fresh with no injuries, so this should be Toronto in full force.

Columbus are with midfielder Artur through suspension. Connor Maloney, Gaston Sauro and Ben Swanson are all out, while Alex Crognale is a doubt.

Toronto FC vs Columbus Crew: Key Points

Toronto’s last five: W/D/W/L/D

Columbus Crew’s last five: D/W/W/L/D

Key Stat: 32 goals return – The return of Giovinco and Altidore means Toronto are in a strong position to advance to the MLS Cup Final. Their goal machines were missed last time out but considering their absentees the TFC side that drew the first leg did very well.

Key Player: Sebastian Giovinco  – Greg Vanney has called for the MLS MVP to come from his record-breaking Toronto side and it would be a surprise to see Giovinco honoured with the award. The Atomic Ant has had an extraordinary season and he will surely be key if his side are to progress to their second final in as many seasons.

Embed from Getty Images

Toronto FC vs Columbus Crew: Prediction

Toronto FC 3-1 Columbus Crew – The Eastern Conference Final second leg is finely balanced. TFC’s returning duo will be expected to provide the goods and prove too much to handle for Columbus.

MLS Playoffs Preview and Prediction: Columbus Crew vs Toronto FC

2017 MLS Cup Playoffs – Eastern Conference Final (1st Leg): Columbus Crew vs Toronto FC

MAPFRE Stadium – Tuesday, November 21 – 20:00 ET (01:00 GMT)

Match Odds: Columbus 19/20 – Draw 11/5 – Toronto 2/1

Columbus Crew vs Toronto FC: Preview

The MLS Cup Playoffs continue on Tuesday night with the first leg of the Eastern Conference Championship. Columbus Crew welcome Toronto FC to MAPFRE Stadium in a game which has had plenty of people talking.

Columbus Crew weren’t tipped by the masses to make it this far considering they finished 5th in the East in the regular season. However, their playoff form has made people sit up and take note. They will be relishing the chance to try and take a lead away to Toronto in the second leg.

They have been spurred on by off-field uncertainties surrounding the team’s future location. A special atmosphere is expected on Tuesday night, considering this could be the final game at MAPFRE Stadium.

This is a big chance for Crew to do what they did to NYCFC in the previous round in their home fixture. They have won seven of their last eight at MAPFRE and given the absentees for Toronto there is every chance they can do it again.

Embed from Getty ImagesToronto FC have already secured a double this season and are aiming for the first treble in MLS history. But, those missing key players are going to have a huge impact on the game.

Sebastian Giovinco, arguably the frontrunner for the MVP award is suspended as is his strike partner Jozy Altidore. No matter how well a squad can perform on their day, missing two superstars is a concern for the very best teams.

Greg Vanney will be looking for his side to pull together here and make it difficult for their opponents. They cannot afford to fall to the sword in the first leg like NYCFC did at the hands of Columbus.

If they can take a draw or a low scoring margin of defeat into the second leg they’ll fancy their chances. That said, there is no chance they won’t be playing for the win.

Columbus Crew vs Toronto FC

via @TorontoFC on Twitter

Columbus Crew vs Toronto FC: Team News

Columbus Crew have no suspensions ahead of the first leg. However Hector Jimenez, Artur, Josh Williams and Mohammed Abu are going to have to be careful not to pick up a booking, as it will rule them out of the return fixture. Alex Crognale, Gaston Sauro, Ben Swanson and Connor Maloney are all out through injury.

Toronto FC are without Giovinco and Altidore through suspension, but will return for the second leg. Drew Moor and Victor Vazquez are doubtful to make it into the squad as they continue to recover from injury.

Columbus Crew vs Toronto FC: Key Points

Columbus Crew’s last five: W/D/W/W/L

Toronto’s last five: W/W/D/W/L

Key Stat: 32 goals missing – The absence of Giovinco and Altidore means Toronto are missing two players who have netted a combined 32 goals in 2017.

Key Player: Ola Kamara – The Columbus Crew forward has 19 goals to his name this season. He will be expected to provide the goals to put his side in a commanding position after the first leg.

Embed from Getty ImagesColumbus Crew vs Toronto FC: Prediction

Columbus Crew 2-1 Toronto FC – Given the squads ahead of this game it would be surprising to see Columbus Crew not take a lead into the second leg. However, Toronto FC are more than a two-man team. They have only lost one of their last nine games on the road and will be out to prove a point in such a big game. It’s going to be a tactical battle which should set up the second leg to be an even better game next week.

MLS Playoffs Preview and Prediction: New York City FC vs Columbus Crew

2017 MLS Cup Playoffs – Eastern Conference Semifinal (Second-Leg): New York City FC vs Columbus Crew

Yankee Stadium – Sunday, November 5 – 17:00 ET (22:00 GMT)

Match Odds: NYCFC 7/10 – Draw 3/1 – Columbus 16/5

New York City FC vs Columbus Crew: Preview

New York City FC need something special to get past Columbus Crew SC in Sunday’s Eastern Conference Semifinal second leg. The Crew lead 4-1 after a thrilling first-leg tie at MAPFRE stadium and have one foot in the Conference Final.

NYCFC are on the verge of exiting the playoffs at the same stage as last year, in similarly crushing circumstances. They went out 7-0 on aggregate to Toronto last season. They’ve now played three MLS Cup Playoff games and lost all of them convincingly.

Patrick Vieira’s men have injury worries, which aren’t helping. But the main problem appears to be that the club and the squad aren’t ready for the intensity that comes with playing in the playoffs.

The positive for New York City is that they created chances in the first leg and could have had a few more goals. A 3-0 win would see them advance but they are unlikely to keep the Crew out, so they’re going to need a whole host of goals to have a chance.

Columbus will still be riding high following that emotionally-charged win in the first-leg. They came into the playoffs as underdogs but have already eliminated Atlanta and are one game away from making the Conference Final.

Gregg Berhalter has his side playing with confidence and playing for the fans, given the uncertainty that surrounds the team’s future. They will look to soak up the inevitable pressure from NYCFC before hitting them on the break. Expect goals.

New York City FC vs Columbus Crew: Team News

Gregg Berhalter is without four players for the trip to Yankee Stadium. Alex Crognale, Gaston Sauro, Connor Maloney and Ben Swanson are all ruled out. But an unchanged lineup is likely to be named. Hector Jimenez, Artur and Josh Williams are all one booking away from suspension.

New York City FC remain without long-term absentees Miguel Camargo and Maxime Chanot. Alexander Callens is suspended and won’t feature.

New York City FC vs Columbus Crew: Key Points

New York City FC last five: W/D/L/D/L

Columbus Crew’s last five: W/W/D/W/W

Key Stat: Columbus Crew have lost their last six consecutive road games in the MLS Cup Playoffs.

Key Player: David Villa – The NYCFC star got the potentially important away goal at MAPFRE Stadium. He has 23 goals in 32 total games this season and will be the man tasked with keeping NYCFC’s dreams alive.

New York City FC vs Columbus Crew: Prediction

New York City FC 3-2 Columbus Crew – NYCFC have yet to win a playoff game but doing so would give them something to build from. A big win could see them through against the odds, but it’s highly unlikely they’ll shut the Crew out. Columbus have goals in them and should manage to advance, although there should be drama on the way.

MLS Playoffs Preview and Prediction: Columbus Crew vs New York City FC

2017 MLS Cup Playoffs – Eastern Conference Semifinal (1st Leg): Columbus Crew vs New York City FC

MAPFRE Stadium – Tuesday, October 1 – 20:00 ET (00:00 BST)

Match Odds: Columbus Crew 21/20 – Draw 5/2  – NYCFC 9/4

Columbus Crew vs New York City FC: Preview

Columbus Crew welcome New York City FC to MAPFRE Stadium for what promises to be a thrilling Eastern Conference Semifinal showdown. One of these sides is 180 minutes away from a place in the Conference Final. The other will be sent packing.

Few people believed Columbus would make it to this stage. They travelled to Atlanta as underdogs for their Knockout Round clash last Thursday. But they prevailed on penalties after a dramatic 120 minutes of action, in which the woodwork was hit three times in total.

The Crew are riding high. They’ve not lost in 11 and have won six of their last seven at home. This will be the first game at MAPFRE Stadium since the news of a possible relocation to Austin surfaced a couple of weeks ago. So expect an emotional atmosphere for Tuesday’s clash.

NYCFC have had over a week to prepare for this game. They rounded off the regular season with a 2-2 draw against the Crew at Citi Field. They come into the playoffs as the No. 2 seed in the East, but they cannot take Columbus for granted.

New York City FC’s recent form will concern Patrick Vieira. They only won one of their last seven regular season outings and don’t come into the playoffs in the highest of spirits.

However, they knew for a long while that they’d be playing postseason soccer. And they need their stars to shine at this stage. Particularly after last year’s humiliating playoff exit to Toronto.

Another boost for the visitors could be that they picked up their first ever away win at Columbus earlier in the campaign. That 3-2 win back in April was then followed by that 2-2 draw at Citi Field on Decision Day.

Columbus Crew vs New York City FC: Team News

Gregg Berhalter is unlikely to make any changes to the starting XI from the win in Atlanta. They did go 120 minutes but they’ve had four days to recover and should be fresh to go here. Alex Crognale, Gaston Sauro and Ben Swanson are all ruled out.

New York City FC have just two players ruled out as they begin their playoff campaign. Miguel Camargo and Maxime Chanot remain sidelined and won’t play again this year.

Columbus Crew vs New York City FC: Key Points

Columbus Crew’s last five: W/W/W/D/W

NYCFC’s last five: D/W/D/L/D

Key Stat: There have been 32 goals in the seven previous meetings between the two sides. That’s an average of 4.5 per game. Neither side has ever kept a clean sheet against the other.

Key Player: Zach Steffen – The Crew’s penalty shootout hero from Thursday night comes into the game in great form. He also saved David Villa’s stoppage time penalty in the 2-2 draw against NYCFC last week. So if he can keep his form up, the visitors might struggle to break through.

Columbus Crew vs New York City FC: Prediction

Columbus Crew 3-1 New York City FC – Making a football prediction for a game as big as this is always difficult. But it’s impossible to see the Crew’s fine form ending in Tuesday’s first leg. NYCFC know they have to keep the tie as close as possible and might set up for a draw ahead of the return leg. But Columbus have attacking weapons that will be looking to hurt them. An early goal could blow the game wide open, and we’re expecting goals. But the Crew look set to edge it, given their impressive hot streak.