Bradley Wright-Phillips has continued to be a dangerous force on offense and has three goals on the season. He does it through excellent movement and much like Chris Wondolowski and Crew SC’s own Ola Kamara. Sacha Kljestan started slow, but now has three assists on the year.
The slow start could be attributed to the Red Bulls initial insistence on playing the 4-2-2-2 that their partner Red Bull clubs play, but now the 4-2-3-1 is back in all it’s quick passing and heavy pressing glory.
Columbus has been in good form after wins against Toronto, Orlando, and Portland in recent weeks. Federico Higuain still pulls the strings, but Justin Meram is a game changer on the left while Kamara cleans up in front of goal.
The questions surround a couple of rookies that have gotten some early playing time. Alex Crognale has stepped in for Jonathan Mensah. The designated player is finally healthy, but he’s not guaranteed a spot back in the lineup.
Likewise Niko Hansen has gotten minutes as an impact sub and has delivered results and earned his first start last week in the place of Ethan Finlay. The speedy veteran has had an up and down 2017, but can still stretch defenses that can overextend or play compact.
Keys to the Match
Pressing Matters: The Red Bulls have always unsettled Columbus will their exceptional pressing. The key for Columbus is how they react, especially goalkeeper Zack Steffen, react to the waves of pressure as they build from the back.
Battering Ram: Berhalter doesn’t like tipping his hand on lineups, but a Kekuta Manneh tweet revealed that he was held out of the traveling squad, that means that the coach is thinking of a different look tonight and it likely includes Adam Jahn. This alludes to a direct game plan.
Sasha in Control: Sasha Kljestan hasn’t looked comfortable in the 4-2-2-2 that New York was running, but he’s back as the playmaker in the 4-2-3-1 that the team has been using the last couple years. Few players have been as dangerous and will be yet another challenge for Artur and Wil Trapp.
How to Watch:
Date/Time: Saturday April 22nd, 7:30 p.m. ET
Venue: Red Bull Arena (Harrison, New Jersey)
Watch: The CW Columbus, Spectrum Sports, BCSN2 (Channel Guide)
Stream: MLS Live
Listen: CD102.5 FM (English) La Mega 103.1 FM (Spanish)