Columbus Crew SC will have a packed house and a fit roster when they take on their sternest challenge of the season on Sunday, the New York Red Bulls according to the updated playoff projections from American Soccer Analysis.
The Red Bulls have been the best team in MLS this season. They tied on points with FC Dallas, but scored more and had a better goal differential. Advanced stats like expected goals are even more weighted towards New York. They are a complete team that scores and plays defense.
That is reflected in the projections from American Soccer Analysis. Crew SC are projected to go through 33% of the time
This has a significant bearing on how to play the Red Bulls. One does not simply walk into Red Bull Arena and take down the Supporters Shield winners. A victory on Sunday at MAPFRE will go a long way to evening the odds when they head to New Jersey for the second leg.
Looking past the Eastern Conference Finals, facing the Red Bulls puts a significant dent into Crew SC's chances of winning MLS Cup simply because they have to get past New York. Columbus has a 16% chance of lifting the Cup according to ASA's projections. The favorite? The Red Bulls. They are projected to win the Cup half the time.
Crew SC will be getting Mohammed Saied back and Tony Tchani is hoping to get back to full health, but will be without the services of center back Gaston Sauro due to yellow card suspension. Columbus will need them as the New York Red Bulls are the toughest challenge yet by the numbers.