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

Competition: Major League Soccer – New York City FC vs. Columbus Crew

Venue: Yankee Stadium – Sunday, October 23 – 16:00 ET (21:00 BST) 

Match Odds: NYCFC 8/5 – Draw 3/1 – Columbus 9/2

Match Preview

New York City FC welcome Columbus Crew to Yankee Stadium on Decision Day in a game that can have an impact on more than just the final standings.

Patrick Vieira’s side will want to win to ensure their regular season efforts get the rewards they deserve, three points will confirm their hold on second place in the East and a bye in the playoffs.

Barring a 13-goal swing NYCFC cannot finish top of the East. They will just be looking to finish the regular season on a high.

New York City come into this one having practically blown their chances of finishing top with a 3-1 defeat away to DC.

David Villa, MLS: NYCFC vs. LA Galaxy

Columbus Crew have nothing to really play for in this tie. The highest they can finish in the Eastern Conference is 7th providing results go their way, so the pressure is off.

Crew will be hoping to finish the season on a high and spoil the NYCFC party. They will have the backing of both Toronto and RBNY, who will be hoping for Crew to win for their benefit.

Gregg Berhalter’s side come into this one having lost 3-2 to RBNY. It was a disappointing result but they showed great effort to make a game of it, as they had been 3-0 down.

Photo: @ColumbusCrewSC

Photo: @ColumbusCrewSC

Team News

NYCFC could be without four for this tie as Connor Brandt, Shannon Gomez and Frank Lampard are all set to miss out, while Ronald Matarrita is doubtful.

Columbus Crew’s injury woes continue, as Matt Pacifici, Ben Swanson, Tyson Wahl, Waylon Francis are expected to be out, while Federico Higuain, Cedrick Mabwati, Gaston Sauro and Ola Kamara are all questionable.

Key Points

NYCFC’s last five: L/D/W/W/L

Columbus Crew last five: W/L/W/D/L

Key Stat: New York City have won six of their last seven home games and scored at least two in eight of their last nine at Yankee Stadium.

Key Player: David Villa – The NYCFC goal machine has netted an impressive 22 in the regular season, he will be itching to beat BWP to the golden boot on the final day. He trials his rival forward by one heading into the game.

David Villa, MLS: NYCFC vs. LA Galaxy

Score Prediction

New York City FC 3-1 Columbus Crew – NYCFC to bounce back from their defeat, secure second place and finish the regular season on a high. Columbus Crew will make a good game of it, but with little to play for they will struggle to deal with the intensity Vieira’s side will come at them with.

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MLS Preview and Prediction: Columbus Crew vs DC United

Competition: Major League Soccer – Columbus Crew SC vs. DC United

Venue: Mapfre Stadium – Saturday, July 16 – 19:30 ET (00:30 BST) 

Match Odds: Columbus 5/6 – Draw 5/2 – DC United 16/5

Match Preview

Columbus Crew welcome Eastern Conference rivals DC United to Mapfre Stadium on Saturday night in a tie both sides desperately need to win.

The Crew are in a rough patch of form. They drew their last game 1-1 at home to Toronto on Wednesday and are now winless in six attempts. They have fallen to the bottom of the East and have the worst points tally in Major League Soccer.

Gregg Berhalter’s side trail the top six by five points, they have to start winning games again if they are to close that gap. This is the first of back-to-back home games, so they now have an opportunity to pick themselves up and regain some confidence but it will not be easy, as they have a lot to improve on.

It is a worrying time for the Crew fans who have watched their team fall a long way since December’s MLS Cup Final.

Seattle Sounders vs Columbus Crew

DC United are not in a much better run of form themselves heading into this tie. They were on the receiving end of a 3-0 defeat to Philadelphia last time out and are underperforming.

The pressure isn’t as intense on Ben Olsen as his side trail the top six by just a point, but he will be aware that a loss here would leave DC just one point ahead of Columbus. It is incredibly tight in the East.

DC are winless in two and have just one win in their last five. They have found wins hard to come by in Columbus, the last time they managed to take all three points in this fixture was back in 2007.

United have lost five of the last eight meetings between the sides since 2013. They will feel they have a good chance of picking up a win here but will be hard pushed to do so as, despite their form, Columbus are unbeaten in their last seven home ties.

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Team News

Columbus Crew could be without four players for this tie as Matt Pacifici, Gaston Sauro are Federico Higuain all expected to miss out, while Conor Casey is a doubt.

DC United injury list is up to five players now as Chris Korb, Collin Martin and Chris Rolfe are all expected to miss out. Patrick Nyarko and Miguel Aguilar are both doubts. Kofi Opare is suspended for this tie.

Key Points

Columbus Crew’s last five: D/D/L/L/D

DC United’s last five: L/D/W/D/L

Key Stat: Homesick – DC United have failed to win 14 of their last 15 away matches in Major League Soccer.

Key Player: Ola Kamara – The Columbus forward has been one of the brightest points of what has been a tough season so far. He has netted eight goals in his 12 appearances. The Crew faithful will be willing their man to fire them to victory in this tie.

Ola Kamara Columbus Crew

Score Prediction

Columbus Crew 2-2 DC United – The Eastern Conference sides to play out a score draw. Neither are in particularly good form heading into this tie and are both lacking confidence. A draw will not be a helpful result for either side but it looks set to end that way with so little to choose between the two.

MLS Preview and Prediction: Toronto FC vs Columbus Crew

Competition: Major League Soccer – Toronto FC vs. Columbus Crew

Venue: BMO Field – Saturday, May 21 – 19:30 ET (00:30 BST)

Match Odds: Toronto FC 19/20 – Draw  5/2 – Columbus Crew 14/5

Match Preview

Toronto FC welcome Columbus Crew to BMO Field on Saturday evening for the latest instalment of the Trillium Cup series.

The home side come into this tie off the back of their 1-1 draw against New York City FC. The Toronto faithful would have been hoping for a win but it was a good result as their side had to come from behind for a share of the points.

This was a missed chance for Greg Vanney’s side, who would have gone top of the Eastern Conference with a win. Toronto currently sit fourth, trailing top spot by two points.

Toronto need to take a win from this game to end their run of four consecutive outings at home with a respectable points tally. They have taken four points from three games so far, so seven from four matches would be a solid return.

Toronto Celebrate New York Red Bulls

Columbus Crew come into this one off the back of their 1-1 tie with Colorado, their second consecutive draw.

Crew have been on a far better run of form recently, only losing one of their last five, winning two and drawing two. They have built up momentum to push their way up table but know this is going to be a tough tie, especially considering they have failed to win in their last seven away games.

Columbus sit 9th in the East, seven points off top spot and three outside of the playoffs. They need to continue their run of form and push into the top six, the very least that would have been expected of them at the start of the season given the strength of their 2015 campaign.

Seattle Sounders vs Columbus Crew

Team News

Toronto FC are missing four players for the visit through injury. Benoit Cheyrou, Marky Delgado, Jonathan Osorio and Jozy Altidore are all out.

Columbus Crew have just two injury concerns ahead of this one as Chad Barson is out, while Tony Tchani is a doubt.

Key Points

Toronto FC’s last five: W/L/W/L/D

Columbus Crew’s last five: W/W/L/D/D

Key Stat: Columbus were unbeaten in all three Trillium Cup meetings last season, winning two and drawing one and lead the all-time series with six wins to two. The Crew fans will be hoping their side can recreate the form they showed in the 2015 campaign and take a positive result in this one.

Key Player: Sebastian Giovinco – The Toronto frontman has netted eight goals and racked up five assists so far this season. If he is on form here he could prove to be the difference for the home side once again.

Sebastian Giovinco Toronto FC 2016

Score Prediction

Toronto FC 2-1 Columbus Crew – Toronto to peg another win back on Columbus in the Trillium Cup series and get back to winning ways here. Columbus have been in a great run of form but this tie will be a huge challenge and their struggles on the road will continue.

MLS Preview and Prediction: Columbus Crew vs Montreal Impact

Competition: Major League Soccer – Columbus Crew vs. Montreal Impact 

Venue: MAPFRE Stadium – Saturday, May 7 – 19:30 EST (00:30 GMT)

Match Odds: Columbus Crew 5/6 – Draw 13/5 – Montreal Impact 16/5

Match Preview

Columbus Crew welcome high-flying Montreal Impact to MAPFRE Stadium on Saturday evening in a game which has plenty to offer.

Crew are still struggling in games and sit 9th in the Eastern Conference as a result. Not many would have predicted this sort of season for them and they need to work on turning things around.

Gregg Berhaulter’s side come into this one off the back of their 1-0 loss against Seattle, which ended their two game winning streak, their only two wins of the season so far.

Scoring has been a problem for Crew who have netted just seven goals in their eight games. In their three home outings they have won twice, so it appears that home form would be their best chance of pusing their way up the table.

Seattle Sounders vs Columbus Crew

Montreal Impact are sitting top of the Eastern Conference and are mounting a solid challenge for the Supporters’ Shield. Impact have already beaten Columbus Crew earlier this season, a 2-0 victory at home.

There is a little room for improvement for Mauro Biello’s team, who come into this one off the back of their 2-2 draw against Colorado.

Impact were in a winning position in the game against Colorado so will be ruing a missed chance to get back to winning ways. They are now winless in three (D2, L1)

MLS: New York City FC vs. Montreal Impact

Team News

Columbus Crew have two injury concerns, Gaston Sauro and Mohammed Saeid are doubts.

Montreal Impact have five players carrying injuries. Andres Romero, Cameron Porter, Donny Toia, Anthony Jackson-Hamel and Hassoun Camara are all expected to be out.

Key Points

Columbus Crew’s last five: D/L/W/W/L

Montreal Impact’s last five: W/W/L/D/D

Key Stat: Columbus have only lost once in seven all-time MLS home meetings against Montreal.

Key Player: Ignacio Piatti – The Montreal playmaker will be looking to breakdown the Crew defence who despite their lowly position in the league have only conceded ten goals.

MLS: New York City FC vs. Montreal Impact Ignacio Piatti

Score Prediction

Columbus Crew 1-2 Montreal Impact – Montreal to get back to winning ways and inflict more misery on Columbus.

MLS Preview and Prediction: Seattle Sounders vs Columbus Crew

Competition: Major League Soccer – Seattle Sounders vs. Columbus Crew

Venue: CenturyLink Field – Saturday, April 30 – 16:00 ET (21:00 BST)

Match Odds: Seattle 23/20 – Draw 12/5 – Columbus 23/10

Match Preview

Seattle Sounders welcome Columbus Crew to CenturyLink Field on Saturday afternoon in another action packed weekend of MLS.

The Sounders have struggled for consistency so far in the 2016 campaign and as a result sit 9th in the Western Conference coming into the weekend.

Sigi Schmid’s side come into this tie off the back of their 3-1 loss away at Colorado in what was their fourth loss of the season. Seattle need to up their game if they are to ensure they don’t fall too far behind the top six.

This is the first of two consecutive home games for Seattle, giving them the chance to pick up some much needed points. Scoring goals has been a problem though, as they have only averaged a goal per game so far this season, so this is something they have to improve upon.

Seattle Sounders vs Philadelphia Union

Columbus Crew have also found themselves lower than expected at the start of the 2016 campaign. They sit 7th in the Eastern Conference but have recently found form.

Crew SC come into this one off the back of their 1-0 home win against Houston Dynamo – their second win on the bounce.

Gregg Berhalter’s side have lost just one in their last five and will be feeling confident heading into this one given the fact that they have scored at least twice in their last three away matches against Seattle in all competitions.

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Team News

Seattle Sounders have five injury concerns. Roman Torres remains out, while Clint Dempsey, Michael Farfan, Nelson Valdez and Andreas Ivanchitz are all doubts. Brad Evans is suspended for this tie following his red card last time out.

Columbus Crew have four injury concerns. Gaston Sauro, Tony Tchani, Corey Ashe and Mohammed Saeid are all doubts ahead of this tie.

Key Points

Seattle Sounders’ last five: L/W/D/W/L

Columbus Crew’s last five: D/D/L/W/W

Key Stat: Columbus Crew have failed to win their last six away games in Major League Soccer.

Key Player: Jordan Morris – The Sounders forward has scored two in his last two games and will be hoping his influence can get his side back to winning ways.

Seattle Sounders vs Philadelphia Union Jordan Morris

Score Prediction

Seattle Sounders 1-2 Columbus Crew – Seattle’s struggles to continue this weekend against a Columbus Crew side who have regained confidence. The Sounders’ lack of goals so far this season has been a troubling factor which could cost them once again this weekend.

MLS Preview and Prediction: Columbus Crew vs Houston Dynamo

Competition: Major League Soccer – Columbus Crew vs. Houston Dynamo

Venue: MAPFRE Stadium – Saturday, April 23 – 19:30 ET (00:30 BST) 

Match Odds: Columbus 4/5 – Draw 13/5 – Houston 100/30

Match Preview

Columbus Crew host Houston Dynamo is a clash between two sides desperate for points as they look to climb their respective conferences on Saturday night.

Columbus picked up their first win of the season in the 3-2 home victory against New York City last weekend, ending a run of five games without success to start the campaign.

Gregg Berhalter will be delighted to have seen his side seal three points and will see Saturday’s game as the perfect opportunity to make it two on the bounce. The Crew sit ninth heading into the weekend and need to start climbing the table quickly.

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Houston aren’t faring much better themselves over in the West. Owen Coyle’s men have picked up the same amount of points as Columbus (5) after six games, but currently sit bottom of the Western Conference.

Last week’s 4-1 home defeat to LA Galaxy will have left supporters disappointed, particularly after the Dynamo took the lead inside 60 seconds. An improved performance this week is crucial to prevent panic setting in.

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Houston have a poor record away in Columbus, having not won in eight attempts, and will need to be at their best to stand a chance of leaving with all three points this weekend.

These two sides met once last year, with Houston coming out on top in a 1-0 win at BBVA Compass Stadium in March. However, the Dynamo have not scored in their last two visits to MAPFRE Stadium.

Team News

Columbus will be without Gaston Sauro as he is still out with a hamstring injury, while Tony Tchani and Corey Ashe are doubts.

Houston have just one injury concern heading into the weekend as Rob Lovejoy is a doubt with a hamstring strain. Owen Coyle is expected to make changes to the side that lost 4-1 to LA Galaxy last time out.

Key Points

Columbus Crew’s last five: L/D/D/L/W

Houston Dynamo’s last five: W/L/L/D/L

Key Stat: Columbus have only lost one of ten home meetings against Houston in MLS, with that defeat coming in 2007.

Key Player: Ethan Finlay – The Columbus winger had his best game of the season last weekend as he tallied a goal and an assist in the 3-2 win over New York City. If he can build on that display, he’ll cause the Dynamo all kinds of problems.

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Score Prediction

Columbus Crew 2-1 Houston Dynamo – Columbus might have had to wait six weeks to get their first win of 2016, but they should now follow it up with another home victory on Saturday. Houston have struggled so far, having not won in four, and don’t look set to trouble the Crew enough to seal three points here. Home win.

2016 MLS Season Preview: Columbus Crew

As the 2016 MLS season edges closer, we’ll be publishing each team’s MLS 2016 Season Preview. Today we take a look at what Columbus Crew will be looking to achieve over the next nine months.

Columbus Crew enjoyed a good 2015 season last time out, with the highlight being the trip to the MLS Cup Final, where they unfortunately lost 2-1 to the Portland Timbers in a game that was almost out of their reach within the first ten minutes. Besides the obvious disappointment of how the year ended, they can be proud of their progress after knocking out favourites New York Red Bulls in the Eastern Conference Final. There was cause for concern after their slow start in which they only won one of the first five games, but they turned things around and finished second in the Eastern Conference. Crew fans will be looking forward to the new season, with much more expected of this dynamic, attacking squad. The aim will be to go one better than last year.

Last regular season finish:

Eastern Conference – Position: 2nd – P34 – W15 – D8 – L11

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What needs to change this year?

As mentioned above, they need to start better this term. One win from their first five caused concern amongst fans and a similar start wouldn’t provide the required platform to push on from. However, the main concern to be addressed will be the team’s defensive record. The Crew may have finished second in the Eastern Conference, but they conceded the fourth-highest number of regular season goals in MLS. They must shore up at the back this term as they will look to better their record of six clean-sheets.

Key changes to squad:

Ins: Corey Ashe – Defender – Emil Larsen – Midfielder – Conor Casey – Forward – Amro Tarek – Defender – Rodrigo Saravia – Midfielder – Ola Kamara – Forward

OutsEmanuel Pogatetz – Defender – Kristinn Steindorsson – Midfielder – Ben Speas – Midfielder – Matt Lampson – Goalkeeper – Kevan George – Midfielder – Aaron Schoenfeld – Forward – Chris Klute – Defender – Jack McInerney – Forward – Sergio Campbell  Defender – Romain Gall – Midfielder

Key Player:

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Kei Kamara – Forward – Kei Kamara was outstanding in 2015, providing some hugely important goals as he matched Golden Boot winner, Sebastian Giovinco’s tally of 22 goals over the course of the regular season. Despite some concerns, he is staying on with the Crew this season and will be a mainstay in the first team once more, should he keep himself fit. His aim will be to better last year’s excellent goal return.

One to Watch:

Ola Kamara – Forward – Columbus now have two Kamara’s in attack. Ola Kamara is a newly-acquired signing from Austria Wien, who has played international football for Norway. He can play as a winger or as an out-and-out striker and will provide cover for the front three this season in Ethan Finlay, Justin Meram and Kei Kamara. He will look to nail down a starting berth and could prove to be a dangerous outlet if given the sufficient minutes by Gregg Berhalter.

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Predicted Finish:

Eastern Conference – 1st – The Crew ended 2015 as one of the most dangerous sides in MLS and will look to challenge at the very top of the Eastern Conference once again this term. There have not been many changes to their starting lineup and that probably puts them in the best position to push on in 2016 and go one better than their second-placed finish last year. Expect others like New York Red Bulls, DC United and Toronto FC to challenge for top spot, but over the course of the season we see Columbus leading the pack, with an immediate return to the MLS Cup Final a real possibility.

What are you expecting from Columbus Crew in 2016?

Getting Stuck In: Why is MLS foreign to foreign coaches?

The Getting Stuck In column delves into some of the more intriguing aspects in US Soccer and MLS, shining a light on the stories regarding the league’s teams and its most-loved characters. This week Dave Lewis looks into how foreign coaches have struggled in Major League Soccer and why that might be the case.

As I sat freezing my butt off in the Nordecke section of Crew Stadium (I still refuse to call it MAPFRE Stadium) for the Eastern Conference final game against the Red Bulls, I wondered why over the years so many foreign coaches have bombed in MLS. And the first person I thought of was Ruud Gullit, the Dutch great who scored goals for the likes of PSV, AC Milan and Chelsea. If you remember, Gullit signed to manage the Galaxy in 2007 and proceeded to lay an egg. Gullit was paid a ridiculous ransom (the highest paid coach in MLS at the time) for kidnapping the Galaxy’s winning ways. He only coached for parts of two seasons and LA missed the playoffs both years, which is hard to do in the playoff-friendly MLS format. Not only did he ruin the beginning of Beckham’s MLS career, but he looked clueless when it came to tactics (didn’t practice set pieces much in training) and even dumber when it came to signing players and understanding the salary cap and draft rules.

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But the highest profile foreign coach bust has to be Carlos Alberto Parreira. The MetroStars (now the Red Bulls) hired the Brazilian World Cup winning coach to guide them in 1997… to the dumpster. His 13-19 playoff-less record didn’t get him fired (he left on his own terms) but he must’ve felt out of his depth when it came to MLS. He didn’t understand that you really need to make smart personnel decisions in MLS, not just throw any players together and call them a ‘team’.

So when I looked down the sidelines during the Eastern Conference final through my frosted over glasses, I saw two American coaches who looked right at home in MLS in Gregg Berhalter and Jesse Marsch.

Berhalter, the Crew SC head coach and technical director was the first American coach to manage in Europe when he took over at Hammarby in Sweden. (There’s a separate column for another time as to why U.S. coaches aren’t getting much of a shot in Europe; I mean c’mon, you don’t think Bob Bradley could’ve done a good job at Villa?).

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Berhalter, having played in the league, understands his limitations, and with Columbus being such a small market team and having limited off-the-field revenue streams he has to be smart (the Galaxy are in the midst of a ten-year, $44 million sponsorship deal with Herbalife, while the Crew have a much smaller five-year deal with shaving cream company Barbasol).

A foreign coach might just go for DPs left and right (see Galaxy under Gullit), but Berhalter has to be shrewd and know the American soccer landscape. His formula is to sign underappreciated foreign talent (Federico Higuain, Harrison Afful, Cedrick Mabwati and Gaston Sauro for example), blend in some established MLS players (Kei Kamara, Michael Parkhurst), sign players through the draft (Ethan Finlay) and grow players through their academy (Will Trapp). It’s a roster filled with good signings alongside good draft picks and a smart use of the Designated Player rule, using only one of their three available slots (Higuain is a modest DP and somehow Kamara isn’t one).

Currently there are only five foreign coaches in MLS with two more on the way as Patrick Vieira (NYCFC) and Veljko Paunovic (Chicago Fire) are set to enter the league in 2016. That could mean trouble, especially for NYCFC. They canned Jason Kreis, an MLS-winning American coach that knows the league like no other having scored over 100 goals in over 300 appearances with FC Dallas and RSL. His success at RSL, like Berhalter’s, was based on extreme knowledge of the league. The only reason Kreis got fired was because foreign owners didn’t understand the MLS concept fully. You need a balance of players, not three DPs, a high priced US International and a bunch of low-level talents. Kreis had no chance. So they go with Vierra, an unproven big name (only coaching experience is with the Manchester City reserves). Good luck Patrick. History is not on your side.

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One case that could go against the grain is that of Oscar Pareja’s. Pareja has done an outstanding job with FC Dallas but he played in MLS for eight years, coached the U.S. U17 team and had a stint with Colorado as their main man. Yes, he was born in Colombia, but he was very much raised in American soccer.

So could a Jose Mourinho come over here and have the same success he’s had in Europe (forget about this year’s current slump)? Well, most would think yes. But I have my doubts based on what I have discussed. I know he wouldn’t do much in his first year that’s for sure. Could you imagine him having to deal with a salary cap? The unheard of amount of travel (Seattle to Orlando is pretty far)? Or knowing how to draft college players? And what would he do when confronted with allocation rankings or the targeted allocation money rule on top of other crazy MLS nuances? He might just pack his bags and head back to London with a headache.

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Look, I think Owen Coyle at Houston will figure it out and so will Adrian Heath at Orlando because they are humble, good guys, willing to learn and embrace MLS. But neither made it to the playoffs this year. Only four foreign coaches have won the MLS Cup: Gary Smith, Thomas Rongen, Frank Yallop and Piotr Nowak. I don’t count Sigi Schmid since he moved to the U.S. from Germany when he was four years old, while Nowak and Rongen feel American since they are well-versed in American soccer with Novak having served as Bob Bradley’s assistant on the U.S. National team and Rongen spending over 35 years in the U.S. as a player and coach, most notably as the U20 U.S. coach.

So after thawing out and digesting the Crew’s 2-0 first-leg win over New York and Portland’s 3-1 win against Dallas on the same night, it looks likely that two U.S. coaches will make it to the 2015 MLS Cup Final (Berhalter vs. Porter). And if that happens, it sure won’t be very foreign to anyone, will it?

MLS Preview and Prediction: Columbus Crew vs Sporting Kansas City

Competition: Major League Soccer – Columbus Crew vs. Sporting Kansas City 

Venue: MAPFRE Stadium – Saturday, August 22 – 19:30 ET (00:30 BST) 

Match Odds: Columbus Crew 21/20 – Draw 12/5 – Sporting Kansas City 5/2

Match Preview

It’s third in the Eastern Conference against third in the Western Conference this weekend as Columbus Crew host Sporting Kansas City at Mapfre Stadium.

Columbus Crew come into this one off the back of a 2-2 draw with New York City FC in midweek, a game they would have been hoping to win. They have a chance to make home advantage count again here against a strong SKC side.

Gregg Berhalter will be disappointed that his side could not make up any ground on the Eastern Conference leaders DC United. They remain nine points behind with one more game in hand.

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Sporting Kansas City come into this one off the back of a 5-0 thumping in midweek at the hands of San Jose Earthquakes. Playmaker Benny Feilhaber saw red in the latter stages of the game, he will be a huge miss for this tie.

Peter Vermes will not be happy with that result as it was a great opportunity to close the gap on Western Conference leaders LA Galaxy. SKC could have potentially gone above the leaders but still remain three points behind. The saving grace for Vermes is that his side still have three games in hand on Galaxy, but will not want a repeat performance of the midweek tie.

Sporting Kansas City are in a great position despite that loss, they have lost the least amount of regular season games out of any other side and stand a good chance of winning the Supporter’s Shield if they can take positive results from their games in hand.

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This will be a test for the sides who are both having good seasons, SKC came out on top in this fixture last season, winning 2-1 at Mapfre Stadium, and will be hoping for a repeat of that victory.

Team News

Columbus Crew have four injury concerns. Sergio Campbell is set to miss out while there are doubts about Harrison Afful, Emanuel Pogatetz and Ben Swanson. Kei Kamara, Federico Higuain and Jack McInerney are all one booking away from suspension.

Sporting Kansas City could be without up to seven players. Ike Opara, Bernardo Anor and Roger Espinoza are set to miss out. Jalil Anibaba, Graham Zusi, Soni Mustivar and Seth Sinovic are all doubts. Kevin Ellis is one booking away from suspension.

Key Points

Columbus Crew’s last five: W/D/L/W/D

Sporting Kansas City’s last five: L/D/W/W/L

Key Stat: Columbus are unbeaten in nine of their last ten home matches in MLS.

Key Player: Kei Kamara – Crew’s main man has been in inspired form this season. He has netted six in his last six outings and has an impressive tally of 18 so far this campaign.

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Score Prediction

Columbus Crew 2-1 Sporting Kansas City – Crew to edge a close tie as they come into this one in better shape than SKC.

MLS Preview and Prediction: Orlando City vs Columbus Crew

Competition: Major League Soccer – Orlando City vs. Columbus Crew 

Venue: Citrus Bowl – Saturday, August 1 – 19:30 ET (00:30 BST)

Match Odds: Orlando City 6/5 – Draw 13/5 – Columbus Crew 19/10

Match Preview

Orlando City host Columbus Crew this weekend in the third regular season meeting between the sides this term. The home side are yet to beat the Crew in a regular season game but were victorious in their meeting in the US Open Cup.

Adrian Heath’s side have lost their last three games on the bounce and this will be a real test for the eighth placed Orlando City.

Orlando have struggled to find home form this season, having won just three of their 11 ties at the Citrus Bowl and that is affecting their playoff chances.

Despite being six places behind the Crew in the league, Orlando are only seven points worse off than their opponents. Heath will be expecting his side to finish in the playoff spots and victory here would be a welcome result to end their four-game winless run.

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Columbus Crew are sitting in a respectable second place in the Eastern Conference and know they cannot afford any slip-ups in the coming games as they will risk dropping down the table.

Crew SC have been in good form of late, losing just once in their last eight outings. Worryingly though, they have only won one regular season away game this campaign.

Gregg Berhalter’s side come into the game off the back of the 3-3 draw with Toronto last weekend, in which they squandered a 3-0 lead and so the players will need to respond immediately to keep the pressure on DC United at the top of the Eastern.

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The MLS game between the two at the Citrus Bowl back in May ended in a 2-2 draw, while Columbus beat the Lions 3-0 at MAPFRE Stadium in April.

Team News

Orlando City will be without Kevin Molino, Tony Cascio, Brek Shea and Harrison Heath. Carlos Rivas is one caution away from suspension.

Columbus Crew have no injury concerns but do have three players one caution away from suspension. Mohammed Saeid, Kei Kamara and Waylon Francis are all treading on thin ice. Kamara suffered a knock in the MLS All-Star Game on Wednesday night but should be fit to start here.

Key Points

Orlando City’s last five in MLS: W/D/L/L/L

Columbus Crew’s last five in MLS: W/L/W/W/D

Key Stat: Columbus Crew have won just once away from home this season in MLS.

Key Player: Kaka – The midfield maestro played and scored in the midweek MLS All-Stars clash against Tottenham Hotspur and is unplayable when in the mood. Expect him to impress in front of his own fans on Saturday evening.

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Score Prediction

Orlando City 1-2 Columbus Crew – Columbus Crew to take all three points with their second away win on the bounce against an Orlando side struggling to find any form.