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Massive Predictions: Columbus Crew SC at New York Red Bulls

Can Columbus go to New York and come back with three points?

MLS: Columbus Crew SC at New York Red Bulls Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The road is an interesting place for Columbus Crew SC and that’s where the team finds itself this weekend, traveling to take on the New York Red Bulls.

Crew SC do have one victory away from MAPFRE Stadium early in this season, but it was against a struggling D.C. United side and came on the back of two penalty kicks. In two games in Houston and Chicago, the Black & Gold have been outscored 4-1 and has the club’s only two losses in 2017.

Columbus would like to return home from Harrison, New Jersey on Sunday with a full three points in hand, but New York is yet to lose at home this year.

The Red Bulls sit three points behind Crew SC in the Eastern Conference with three wins and three losses on the season, but may have found the recipe for success last week when a formation change led to a 2-0 home win over D.C.

Can the East leaders hang on to the top spot in the conference or will RBNY pull level and open the door for another team to climb above the Black & Gold? Let’s see what our staff thinks on the matter.

Josh Enke

The New York Red Bulls are undefeated at home, but visiting Columbus Crew SC have become known streak-breakers, grounding teams too confident in their unbeaten ways. Columbus has, however, lost two of their first three away games and going on the road is never easy in MLS. This match is tough to predict.

Despite those road losses for Crew SC, only the Houston matchup was abysmal; the away Chicago loss was hard fought and the squad lacked key ingredients of Federico Higuain and Harrison Afful. I said it last week and I'll say it again, with a healthy roster, I don't see this team falling easily to any team in the league. Hesitantly, I'll say Crew SC look to be one of the most promising sides of the season. I know, it's still early on.

New York are trying to bounce back from an ugly past four weeks. Though they managed a win last Saturday against a tepid D.C. United, I'm not yet convinced of the team's quality this season. That being said, home turf is home turf and question marks remain around Crew SC's vitality on the road.

Complacency may be the Black & Gold's largest hurdle.
Columbus Crew SC 2 New York Red Bulls 2

Nick Clarkson

Columbus Crew SC heads to Red Bull Arena this week at the top of the East after winning four of its last five matches. New York has won just one of its last five, but is very strong when it comes to getting results at home. The Red Bulls lost just three matches at Red Bull Arena last season, and are unbeaten at home through seven games this season.

With that, I think New York takes this one, and Crew SC returns home looking for three points from three-straight home matches.
New York Red Bulls 2 Columbus Crew SC 1

Sam Fahmi

Columbus Crew SC needs to figure out it's away game... soon. Can it happen against the New York Red Bulls in Harrison, New Jersey? Possibly. We have seen that head coach Gregg Berhalter's new approach to MLS play and game management has shown results this year. While the defense has shown much improvement from last year, they are still susceptible to let in a goal or two that they should not. Then again, both Alex Crognale and Zack Steffen have shown growth in experience with each played game. I'm sure New York has watched film of the Chicago Fire game and would not be surprised to see them fill the box while Crew SC is on the attack. The difference in this game will be if Columbus manages to capitalize on early chances and keep Bradly Wright-Phillips and Sasha Kljestan in check. Crew SC pulls one on the road.
Columbus Crew SC 2 New York Red Bulls 1

Kris Landis

As I said on the podcast, there are just too many question marks around this RBNY team for me to get a good feel for them. They're obviously dangerous, but they're yet to hit those highs we expect this season. This is honestly one of those matches that I can see the two teams canceling each other out to a large degree. Berhalter spoke this week about the danger of conceding set pieces, and of the importance of bottling up Sacha Kljestan in the midfield. I think Crew SC have shown they're capable of this for stretches, but I'm not sure this is a match where they're going to be able to do it for 90 minutes.

I think the Black & Gold gets goals, with Meram's run of form continuing, but I also see them conceding. I don't see either side really gaining dominance in this one. A solid road point for Crew SC.
Columbus Crew SC 2 New York Red Bulls 2

Patrick Murphy

This is an interesting Red Bulls team. Some key ingredients — namely Dax McCarty — that have made New York successful in recent years are gone and replacements are there, but I still see question marks. I think it was a positive step for Jesse Marsch to go back to the 4-2-3-1 formation that’s worked over the last few seasons, but it seems everyone is beating D.C. United 2-0 these days.

I’m still waiting to see a solid 90 minute performance from Crew SC. The fact that the side is getting results, wins especially, without playing a full game at top level is impressive but may also come back to bite the team. I think the Red Bulls are still a side in transition, but it could be another big text for Alex Crognale having to contain the RBNY attack, plus dealing with the team’s high pressure.

I think this will be an entertaining game, but ultimately the points are split.
Columbus Crew SC 1 New York Red Bulls 1

Guilherme Torres

While Crew SC won four of its last five games, the New York Red Bulls managed to get a lone victory over its most recent five matches. But don't be fooled: this is supposed to be a very tough match for the Eastern Conference leaders as the Red Bulls are still undefeated at home with two wins and one tie.

Head coach Jesse March switched the team back to the 4-2-3-1 system after a failed experiment on the 4-2-2-2 and this formation better suits their most effective playmaker, Sacha Kljestan. Closing the passing lanes between Kljestan and forward Bradley Wright-Phillips will demand a lot of effort from the center backs and the central midfielders. On the other hand, it's difficult to see the Red Bulls being able to stop Crew SC's wingers. I bet on an even match and a tie, that would work reasonably well for both sides.
Columbus Crew SC 1 New York Red Bulls 1

Collin Johnson

Saturday's match against the New York Red Bulls will be yet another test of Crew SC's ability to play the ball out of the back while avoiding a high press. New York have struggled to adapt to their new 4-2-2-2 formation, but are only three points back from Crew SC in this young MLS season.

The Red Bulls' high press has continued to be effective, but the team has had significant trouble completing passes once they've picked up turnovers. If Crew SC are able to avoid those initial turnovers, they should be able to neutralize New York's biggest strength. Crew SC's defense will once again be tested by one of the league's best strikers, Bradley Wright-Phillips, but having already played against Fanendo Adi, Cyle Larin, and Jozy Altidore should help acclimate the Crew SC defenders to a league best striker.

Yet again, I'm predicting that we see Kekuta Manneh get his first minutes for Crew SC, as a 60th minute sub on the wings. Manneh scores the winner in his Crew SC debut.
Columbus Crew SC 2 New York Red Bulls 1

Have a prediction for this Eastern Conference showdown? Let us know in the comment section below.