After opening the MLS Cup playoffs with one of the best Major League Soccer games in recent memory, Columbus Crew SC advanced to the Eastern Conference semifinal where New York City FC awaits.
These two teams now take part in a two-leg, aggregate goal series beginning tonight in Columbus and ending Sunday in New York City.
The Citizens finished in second place in the East and therefore did not take part in the one-game knockout round. The team’s last match was the 2-2 draw with the Black & Gold at Citi Field on Decision Day.
What’s at stake in this contest is likely different for each side. Crew SC hopes to feed off the home crowd at MAPFRE Stadium and build a big lead, while NYCFC would like an away goal — the first tiebreaker — to take back to Yankee Stadium.
The Black & Gold have now gone 11 games without defeat. Can Crew SC do it again against New York City? Let’s see what our staff thinks on this contest.
Crew SC will face New York City FC for the third time this season and the record is not good for the Black & Gold as they managed to get only one point out of the past matches, including a 3-2 home loss back in April. This is, though, arguably the best opportunity for the team to get a win against New York as Crew SC has a good momentum sustaining an 11-match unbeaten run that culminated on last Thursday's PK win over Atlanta United.
The Black & Gold have done a good job offensively against NYCFC, scoring four goals in two matches in 2017. Defensively, though, the team has not been so solid, especially in April's match, when Crew SC turned the ball over repeatedly. The Black & Gold's backline looks much more solid now and if it manages to limit the damage caused by David Villa, Maxi Moralez and Jack Harrison, the Ohioans have a good shot on starting the series with a win.
Columbus Crew SC 2 New York City FC 1
David Villa's success against Columbus is the biggest sticking point for me in this round of the playoffs. In seven matches against Crew SC, Villa has eight goals.
Villa isn't NYC's only goalscoring threat, but the Spanish legend has consistently been the key to success for NYCFC. However, NYCFC only have one win in their last seven matches while Columbus upped their unbeaten streak to 11 games in Atlanta on Thursday.
If Crew SC are able to match their effort from their match against Atlanta, the Black & Gold should have no trouble against NYC. But it will be difficult to replicate such intense emotions and effort on a quick turnaround.
Columbus Crew SC 2 New York City FC 0
After proving successful in Atlanta, I feel as if their isn’t much Columbus Crew SC can’t accomplish. I expect an electric crowd at MAPFRE and the team will feed off of that.
The Black & Gold have to limit the opportunities on net from David Villa and beware of that dreaded away goal.
Columbus Crew SC 2 New York City FC 1
After one of the epic scoreless draws (and PK win) of all time on the road in Atlanta, I'm feeling optimistic. Not necessarily MLS Cup optimistic, but definitely optimistic about a home game against a good but beatable New York City FC.
Getting a road draw against NYC to close out the regular season was a decent result, and now there is even more momentum for Columbus, so I think the Black & Gold can win this home leg, especially with a fanbase that I expect to be energized and anxious to show off its passion after the off-the-field nonsense of recent weeks.
I think Crew SC will be able to score a couple of goals, but I also think New York City can snag a road goal, which will still make things tough for Columbus in the return leg. Columbus Crew SC 2 New York City FC 1
Call me a believer. After I doubted the team could continue its unbeaten run, Crew SC went to Atlanta and got the resulted desired, winning in a penalty kick shootout. I thought that was the end of the road for the Black & Gold, but here we are.
If the final match of the regular season between these two, Columbus outplayed New York City for portions. While goalkeeper Zack Steffen had to come up with a few big saves, the Citizens were rather reliant on David Villa. Crew SC faced a tougher matchup last week and that’s why I’m feeling good about this one.
Ola Kamara is hungry for that first playoff goal and I think he gets on the scoresheet. The rest of the attack continues to play well, but the Black & Gold do concede that dreaded away goal.
Columbus Crew SC 3 New York City FC 1
Those are our Massive Report predictions. Leave us your thoughts on the game in the comment section below.