An emotional win at MAPFRE on Tuesday night gives the Crew some breathing room against New York City FC today. The 4-1 aggregate advantage means that the Crew are 90% favorites to advance according to 538. NYCFC has to score at least three goals to overturn it.
Columbus will be at full strength and at a decided advantage today. Gregg Berhalter has a full assortment of weapons on offense but will likely keep his starters out there, including the superlative Federico Higuain. This group has been undefeated in 12 games.
The defense will be tested as NYCFC knows they have to score at least three. Jonathan Mensah struggled mightily with his footing and play on Tuesday and will have a chance to redeem himself against a dangerous group.
The home team will be understaffed at the back as Alexander Callens will be suspended after his red card in leg one. They are very short staffed in the middle with former Crew draftee left back Ben Sweat as the first choice replacement.
NYCFC won’t be short staffed in the attack. David Villa will spearhead a dangerous offense. Jack Harrison and Rodney Wallace will likely flank him.
Keys to the match:
Game Management: All teams continue to say they’ll play thier game with an aggregate lead and the Crew will surely play their style, but they’ll have to be sensible about it. Good news is that today’s game sets up much like the second half of leg one and Columbus showed that
Don’t panic: Goals happen. NYCFC is likely going to score today, but the Crew can’t forget there’s a buffer. That buffer helps tremendously in a two game series, but it should also serve as a reminder that Columbus can pick apart NYCFC and did successfully. Remembering the things that got the team here should allay any anxiety after a bad play.
Be Ruthless: Columbus wasn’t clinical on Tuesday, but they were ruthless in transition. NYCFC will have to push numbers forward. The Crew will have chances in front of goal and an away goal will likely finish off the tie.
How to Watch:
Date/Time: Sunday, November 5th at 5:00 p.m. ET
Venue: Yankee Stadium (Bronx, New York)
Listen: CD102.5 FM (English Broadcast) La Mega 103.1 FM (Spanish)