MLS Preview and Prediction: Real Salt Lake vs Columbus Crew

Competition: Major League Soccer – Real Salt Lake vs. Columbus Crew

Venue: Rio Tinto Stadium – Saturday, June 27 – 22:00 ET (03:00 BST)

Match Odds: Real Salt Lake 13/8 Draw 12/5 Columbus Crew 13/8

Match Preview

Real Salt Lake play host to Columbus Crew in Utah as the Crew look to vastly improve their awful away form, having taken just three points from a possible 21 so far with no away wins registered.

Real Salt Lake are coming off a 1-0 defeat to New York Red Bulls on Wednesday night in what was their sixth defeat on the road so far this season.

In that match, RSL finished with nine men as top scorer Javier Morales and Demar Phillips were both sent off at Red Bull Arena.

Having taken 13 points at home this season, Real Salt Lake will look to capitalise on the fact Columbus Crew haven’t picked up a victory away from the MAPFRE Stadium in MLS in 2015.

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Consistency is key for getting in the playoff places and RSL have only earned back-to-back victories once this season – one of the reasons they are still outside the top six.

Columbus head to Rio Tinto Stadium searching for another victory after their 2-1 win over New England Revolution on Wednesday night.

Although the Crew are just fifth in the Eastern Conference, they are only three points off the top three in a congested Eastern Conference.

Kei Kamara is in double digits for the season having netted twelve goals in his first season back in MLS and will look to build on his midweek display after scoring both of the Crew’s goals.

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Only Chicago Fire have picked up fewer points away from home this season than Columbus with two points accumulated, so Gregg Berhalter’s men need to ensure they start winning on the road to guarantee a top six finish.

Last time these sides met was last season as the game in Columbus finished 1-1, while Real Salt Lake won the last home game 4-0 in 2013.

Team News

Real Salt Lake will be without Javier Morales and Demar Phillips through suspension. Chris Schuler is out and there is a doubt over whether or not Jamison Olave will play.

Columbus Crew have just the one injury concern with Will Trapp still a major doubt with concussion.

Key Points

Real Salt Lake last five: L/L/D/W/L

Columbus Crew last five: D/D/L/L/W

Key Stat: Kei Kamara has scored just three less goals than Real Salt Lake have scored all season. Kamara is on twelve whereas RSL have scored fifteen in total.

Key Player: Luke Mulholland – Mulholland has two goals this season and two assists. With Morales suspended he could be the man that Salt Lake turn to for goals and will hope he can create the chances too.

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Score Prediction

Real Salt Lake 3-0 Columbus Crew – Although Morales is suspended, Rio Tinto is a tough place for away teams to go to and Columbus Crew will struggle to win their first road game here. The last time they visited Utah, Columbus Crew were turned over 4-0 and a similar result could be on the cards.

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MLS Preview and Prediction: Orlando City vs Columbus Crew

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

Venue: Citrus Bowl – Saturday, May 30 – 19:30 ET (00:30 BST – Sunday, May 31)

Match Odds: Orlando City 5/4 – Draw 12/5 – Columbus Crew 21/10

Match Preview

Orlando City and Columbus Crew clash in MLS for the second time this season when they meet at Citrus Bowl on Saturday evening.

Head coach Adrian Heath can be very happy with Orlando’s last two results as they picked up a valuable point in a 1-1 draw away at San Jose Earthquakes last weekend, and thrashed LA Galaxy 4-0 at home the week before.

The win over the Galaxy was the Lions’ first ever victory at home and they’re now sixth in the Eastern Conference standings with 13 points from their opening 12 games.

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If Orlando avoid defeat in this game, it will also be the first time they have strung together a run of three games without defeat.

Columbus Crew are fourth in the Eastern Conference with 15 points and drew their last game at home to the Chicago Fire in disappointing fashion as they let a two-goal lead slip, conceding a devastating last-minute equaliser to tie the game.

The Crew have managed just one victory in their last four games (D1, L2) and also haven’t won a game away from home yet this season, so they’ll be looking to break that trend (D2, L3).

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Gregg Berhalter’s Columbus side eased to a 3-0 victory when these two sides met in the reverse fixture in April, thanks to goals from Federico Higuain, Justin Meram and Kei Kamara.

Team News

Orlando City will be without Pedro Ribeiro (hamstring) and Kevin Molino, while Lewis Neal (neck), Tony Cascio (back) and Aurelien Collin (hamstring) are all doubts. Brek Shea will miss the game through suspension after his red card against San Jose.

Columbus Crew midfielders Wil Trapp (concussion) and Ethan Finlay (toe) are both doubtful.

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Key Points

Orlando City’s last five: L/D/L/W/D

Columbus Crew’s last five: W/L/W/L/D

Key Stat: Columbus Crew have conceded at least two goals in their last four matches in MLS.

Key Player: Kaka – The Brazilian has been excellent in Orlando’s recent good performances and will be vital to his side once again.

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Score Prediction

Orlando City 2-2 Columbus Crew – Orlando are full of confidence after their last two games and there’s always goals when Columbus play, but they just can’t win away from home. A high scoring draw could be the order of the day.

MLS Preview and Prediction: Columbus Crew vs Toronto FC

Competition: Major League Soccer – Columbus Crew vs Toronto FC

Venue: Mapfre Stadium – Saturday, March 14 – 19:30 ET (23:30 GMT )

Match Odds: Columbus Crew 13/10 – Draw 9/4 – Toronto FC 15/8

Match Preview

Columbus Crew host Toronto FC at the Mapfre Stadium on Saturday evening for the second game of the 2015 MLS season in a key Eastern Conference clash.

Columbus Crew didn’t get off to the best start after suffering a narrow 1-0 defeat away at Houston Dynamo last weekend, although they may count themselves unlucky as they dominated possession and managed to get 18 shots away but just couldn’t find the net.

Toronto FC couldn’t have asked for a much better result in their opening game as they won 3-1 away at Canadian rivals Vancouver Whitecaps thanks to goals from Jozy Altidore and Robbie Findley.

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Columbus enjoyed six consecutive wins on home soil at the end of the 2014 regular season, so they will be hoping to continue where they left off at the Mapfre Stadium against a Toronto side who recorded their first away win for seven games in MLS last time out.

Head Coach Gregg Berhalter led The Crew to the playoffs for the first time in three years last season and he will certainly be confident that he can replicate that achievement, but with such a competitive Eastern Conference, Columbus will be desperate to get early points on the board.

Greg Vanney‘s Toronto have been the subject of attention throughout the preseason due to the resources they’ve invested in the squad as they’ve brought in key players in the shape of Jozy Altidore, Sebastian Giovinco and Benoit Cheyrou.

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Although it’s very early days, they look to have hit the ground running and their quality was immediately evident in the first game last weekend. The club will be hoping that they continue to justify the expenditure their arrivals demanded.

As well as a significantly improved squad, recent history is also on Toronto’s side when it comes to fixtures against Columbus. The Reds won all three of the games between these two sides last season, with the most recent meeting providing an entertaining 3-2 win for Toronto back in August 2014.

Having said that, in the games before the 2014 season, Toronto had managed just two wins from 19 attempts against Columbus with The Crew coming out on top on ten occasions and drawing seven.

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It’s tightly poised and with two teams that like to get the ball down and play in an entertaining way, we could be in for a real treat.

Team News

Columbus Crew midfielder Romain Gall may not be fit for action after he missed the last game with a knee injury while Tony Tchani will miss the game after being issued with a one-match suspension for endangering the safety of an opponent in last week’s 1-0 loss to Houston. Toronto FC have no injuries or suspensions to take into consideration and are likely to field an unchanged side.

Key Points

Columbus Crew’s form: L

Toronto FC’s form: W

Key Stat: The last five meetings between Columbus and Toronto have produced 17 goals, so we can hope for more of the same.

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Key Player: Jozy Altidore – The USMNT striker marked his return to Major League Soccer with two goals and looks full of confidence once again. With Giovinco, Bradley and Cheyrou orchestrating the midfield behind him, chances will inevitably come his way.

Score Prediction

Columbus Crew 1-2 Toronto FC – Columbus were unlucky to lose last week against Houston. Toronto certainly weren’t lucky to win at Vancouver and they looked very strong. The Reds should have too much firepower for Columbus to handle.

Player ratings: New York Red Bulls 1-3 Columbus Crew

Columbus Crew deservedly ran out 3-1 winners over New York Red Bulls on Sunday night with a brilliant performance that silenced the crowd.

How did each player fare at the Red Bull Arena?

New York Red Bulls:

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[Lloyd Sam: The stand-out player for New York Red Bulls]

  • Luis Robles (Goalkeeper) – 5/10 – It was a tough day at the office for the Red Bulls ‘keeper. He will be disappointed with the second goal after he managed to get a touch on it but couldn’t keep it out.
  • Armando (Defender) – 5/10 – The Spaniard was turned inside-out in the early stages and you could see that his confidence took a hit as he never really recovered from it.
  • Jamison Olave (Defender) – 5/10 – He tried hard but couldn’t stay consistent throughout the course of the game. He was a bit of a rabbit in the headlights for The Crew’s first goal and didn’t react quickly enough.
  • Richard Eckersley (Defender) – 6/10 – He didn’t have too bad a game but there was a breakdown in communication with his fellow defenders for the third goal which allowed too much time and space in the box for Columbus and particularly Schoenfeld.
  • Roy Miller (Defender) – 5/10 – He didn’t make any crucial errors but gave the ball away too frequently with a passing accuracy of just 72% (according to Squawka).
  • Dax McCarty (Midfielder) – 5/10 – He’s normally so reliable in the middle of the park but he was certainly not at his usual high standard and didn’t provide BWP with enough to feed off.
  • Eric Alexander (Midfielder) – 6/10 – It was a soft performance from Alexander as he allowed the Crew’s midfield to carve through the middle too easily without putting in enough challenges.
  • Lloyd Sam (Midfielder) – 8/10 – Easily the most creative player for the Red Bulls. He scored a wonderful solo goal and created numerous chances for New York. If there was any positives to take from the game, Sam’s performance is one of them.
  • Peguy Luyindula (Midfielder) – 5/10 – It was a very subdued display from Luyindula. He struggled to impose himself on the game and really was fairly ineffective.
  • Thierry Henry (Midfielder) – 6/10 – It’s strange to see a performance like this from the Frenchman because he wasn’t his usual self. He seemed to look slightly off the pace and confused by the quality of Columbus.
  • Bradley Wright-Phillips (Forward) – 6/10 – He barely had a touch of the ball which is very disappointing considering that he is chasing down an MLS record for all-time top goalscorer in a regular season. With that said, the service from midfield left a lot to desire.
  • Ambroise Oyongo (Defender) – 7/10 – He was very influential when he came on and really brought New York to life. He was certainly one of the brightest sparks and tried his best to change the game.
  • Ruben Bover (Defender) – 6/10 – He didn’t stand a chance of impacting the game with only 11 minutes to do so.

Columbus Crew:

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[Ethan Finlay was outstanding for Columbus Crew]

  • Steve Clark (Goalkeeper) – 9/10 – A marvellous performance between the posts. He made countless brilliant saves and was dominant in the penalty area, claiming everything that came his way with confidence.
  • Bernardo Anor (Defender) – 7/10 – He joined in with attacks in the first half and helped overrun the Red Bulls defence down the flanks.
  • Hector Jimenez (Defender) – 7/10 – It’s so hard to criticise either of the Columbus centre-backs as they were both very good.
  • Michael Parkhurst (Defender) – 7/10 – Mr. Consistent at the back and once again, he was very solid.
  • Tyson Wahl (Defender) – 6/10 – He had a decent game but was beaten by Lloyd Sam far too easily for the goal.
  • Ethan Finlay (Midfielder) – 9/10 – It was a dream game for Finlay. He took his goal brilliantly and had wonderful build up play in the second half which lead to the third goal. He was a constant threat and looked dangerous throughout.
  • Federico Higuain (Midfielder) – 8/10 – He put in a real shift and had great link-up play with Finlay for the 3rd goal. A special mention must go to his fantastic passing accuracy of 91% (according to Squawka).
  • Justin Meram (Midfielder) – 7/10 – He wasn’t influential on the game but when you don’t seem to notice a player, it usually means they’re putting in a good, solid performance that’s free of mistakes.
  • Tony Tchani (Midfielder) – 8/10 – The definition of being a beast in the middle of the park. It was a Yaya Toure esque performance. He drove with the ball well and played a wonderful pass to Finlay for the second goal.
  • Wil Trapp (Midfielder) – 7/10 – Trapp was a real team player in a real team performance. He didn’t put a foot wrong for his side and covered every blade of grass.
  • Aaron Schoenfeld (Forward) – 9/10 – A superb performance, giving you everything you ask your centre-forward for – he ran the defence ragged and bagged himself two well taken goals.
  • Chad Barson (Defender) – 7/10 – He had a good performance to sure up the game for the Crew and stem the flow of New York attacks.
  • Emanuel Pogatetz (Defender) – 6/10 – The half-time substitute should have closed down Lloyd Sam quicker for his goal. Other than that, he did enough at the back.
  • Eric Gehrig (Defender) – 6/10 – A late substitute so he didn’t have an influence on the game. He didn’t make a mistake though and that’s the key.

New York Red Bulls will travel to Sporting Kansas City for their final game of the regular season next weekend, while Columbus Crew will host Philadelphia Union.

The pair are likely to meet in the MLS Playoffs as they are currently sitting in fourth and fifth place in the Eastern Conference, and New York will be disappointed to have lost their last home game of the season.

Who will get further in the MLS Playoffs – New York Red Bulls or Columbus Crew?