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.

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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.

Montreal comeback to beat Columbus in first leg of key Eastern playoff

Montreal Impact came from behind to beat the Columbus Crew 2-1 in the first leg of their Eastern Conference semifinal on Sunday night.

It was an open, attacking game between two sides that entered the MLS Cup Playoffs in fine form. Montreal advanced past Toronto 3-0 on Thursday night and had to make sure fatigue didn’t affect their performance too much on Sunday.

The Impact beat the Crew home and away during the regular season and used whatever mental edge followed that by putting in a confident display in front of the home crowd.

Didier Drogba looked to have opened the scoring after 15 minutes as he bundled the ball into the net but the goal was disallowed as the Ivorian was adjudged to have handled the ball as it went in.

Montreal were then stunned as Columbus took the lead on 33 minutes, grabbing an important away goal through Federico Higuain as he slotted in after Drogba’s defensive header fell straight to him.

But the Impact’s troubles didn’t last too long as Patrice Bernier levelled with a powerful header from a corner on 37 minutes, much to the delight of the home crowd. The goal was Bernier’s second in four days after not scoring during the entirety of the regular season.

The second-half saw the game tighten up a bit but Montreal then capitalised on some lacklustre Columbus defending in the 77th minute as Johan Venegas cooly slotted in after just coming off the bench.

Columbus pressed for a late equaliser but were unable to add to their single away goal and now have to make sure they win their home game next weekend.

Kei Kamara really struggled to make an impact for Columbus and the Crew will have to find a way to get him more involved for next weekend’s match if they’re to advance to the next round.

The two sides will meet at MAPFRE Stadium in Columbus next Sunday for the second leg. The winner will go on to face DC United or the New York Red Bulls in the Eastern Conference Final.

What did you make of Sunday’s game in Montreal? Did the Impact deserve to win?

New York Red Bulls take series advantage with vital win at DC United

The 2015 MLS Cup Playoff Conference Semifinals got underway at RFK Stadium on Sunday with Major League Soccer’s oldest rivals going head-to-head in the first leg of their key Eastern Conference semi.

It was the New York Red Bulls who prevailed, beating DC United in the first-leg of the conference semifinal for the second-straight season, but away from home this time around with a 1-0 victory also giving them a potentially crucial away goal.

It wasn’t a game that offered many clear chances but New York took their opportunity when Sacha Kljestan’s excellent free-kick was headed in by an unmarked Dax McCarty at the back post.

The goal came from one of the Red Bulls’ nine shots on target and they were probably deserved winners, especially if looking at chance creation.

DC United finished the match without registering a single shot on target. While another worry for head coach Ben Olsen will be the fact that their passing accuracy was just 55%.

DC United vs New England Revolution Ben Olsen

They came into the game off the back of Wednesday’s 2-1 home win over New England but the whole team looked fatigued from that match, despite a bright opening to the game.

The result saw the Red Bulls win away at DC for the first time in MLS Playoff history. They have beaten their Atlantic Cup rivals in each of the last three meetings at Red Bull Arena and look to have one foot in the Eastern Conference final.

The return leg will be played at Red Bull Arena next Sunday. The winner of the tie over the two legs will face either Montreal Impact or Columbus Crew in the Eastern final.

What did you make of Sunday’s game? Did the Red Bulls deserve to win? Can DC still make it through?