For NYCFC, it was a setback in a season mostly made up of successes. After a slow start to the year that saw one win in the club’s first eight contests, the Citizens have turned things around to earn the top spot in the Eastern Conference entering Saturday’s match.
Head coach Patrick Vieira’s side is led offensively by David Villa — 13 goals — and Frank Lampard — eight finishes — but the player who runs the machine in the middle is Andrea Pirlo who has eight assists on the year.
Defensively is where City has struggled. New York City has conceded a league-worst 40 goals on the year, although 11 of those came in two matches with rivals New York Red Bulls.
Crew SC has not been as potent offensively as in recent years. The 26 goals scored ranks the Black & Gold 15th out of 20 Major League Soccer sides. Defensively, Columbus has not been good either allowing 35 goals, sixth-worst in the league.
Since NYCFC’s inception two years ago, Crew SC is yet to lose a match to City. The Black & Gold lead the series with two wins and one draw.
Here is all you need to know in preparation for this contest.
Keys to the Match
- Shake off the rust: Crew SC had last week off after a 3-0 defeat at Toronto FC. While it was supposed to be time to recollect thoughts and get things moving in the right direction, New York City will be happy to capitalize on any rust the Black & Gold have out of the break.
- Containing the superstars: Villa, Lampard and Pirlo are the three Columbus must be worried about, but Federico Higuain is back in the lineup for Crew SC. With two weeks to get fit, a return to form of the No. 10 would be a welcomed sight for Black & Gold fans.
- Who plays defense: As mentioned above, neither of these sides is particularly good defensively. The last match between the two clubs produced five goals and this one could be similar. Whoever puts a little effort in on that side of the ball — maybe Crew SC with new center back Nicolai Næss likely playing — will likely win the game.
How to Watch
Date/Time: August 13, 2016/7:30 p.m. EST
Venue: MAPFRE Stadium, Columbus, OH
Television: CW Columbus, TWC SportsChannel
Online: MLS Live
Radio: CD 102.5 (English), La Mega 103.1 (Spanish)