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Massive Predictions: New York Red Bulls at Columbus Crew SC

Can Crew SC keep the unbeaten streak going at home?

MLS: Columbus Crew SC at New York Red Bulls Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

We are reaching the end of the 2017 Major League Soccer season. While these games all count the same, the feel around the final few weeks certainly has intensified.

That will be the case on Saturday night when Columbus Crew SC welcomes the New York Red Bulls to MAPFRE Stadium.

The Red Bulls enter this game winless in its last five MLS games, featuring only one loss but four consecutive draws that has seen the team slide down the Eastern Conference. Crew SC, meanwhile, is on a six-match unbeaten run.

As is the case in recent years for New York, forward Bradley Wright-Phillips leads the team in scoring while Sacha Kljestan is tops in assists. Both players have struggled for form statistically recently, with a combined one goal and two assists over the current winless stretch.

Columbus forward Ola Kamara is really starting to heat up though, with goals in each of his last four games.

These two teams currently sit in the final playoff spots in the Eastern Conference, separated by just two points, meaning this game could go a long way in deciding the final postseason picture.

The Black & Gold will be well rested in this contest, having not played since last Saturday’s 2-2 draw at the Vancouver, while New York played a mid-week game, a 2-1 loss to Sporting Kansas City in the U.S. Open Cup Final.

Can the fresher legs of Crew SC help the team capture the 11th home win of the season for Columbus? Let’s see what our staff thinks on this one.

Josh Enke

It was a strange, ill-fated contest back on April 22 when Columbus Crew SC and the New York Red Bulls first met in Harrison. Following the opening whistle, viewers blinked their eyes once, maybe twice, and then Artur was writhing on the pitch with a broken wrist. Not too long after, Alex Crognale, who was putting in convincing first team appearances up to that point, fell with an ankle injury. Everything was off-kilter for Crew SC and New York did not hesitate to exploit Columbus' undoing.

Now the Red Bull Energy Drinks are coming to Ohio, nipping at the home side's heels in the Eastern Conference standings, while also carrying two games in hand. Both the visitors and the Black & Gold are looking to officially secure a playoff spot, however, it's more of a battle for which seed at this point.

I see potential for this match to get heated, but New York unravels this time around.
Columbus Crew SC 2 New York Red Bulls 0

Josh Mlot

There are a couple of things that worry me about this one. No. 1, the Red Bulls are a good club, even if they haven't won at quite the clip of the last few years. No. 2, they press, which is always a concern for Columbus.

The first time these two teams met, it was a crazy first 25 minutes or so for Crew SC — the kind that won't be repeated, even on a bad night. I think Artur will start this one and be a difference maker for CCSC. I also think Columbus has two major factors in its favor: the game is at MAPFRE and New York is coming off a chippy Wednesday game in which its starters played. Guys like Bradley Wright-Phillips and Sach Kljestan should be feared, but I think a well-rested and prepared Columbus side is in a good position to handle things this week, which would be a huge result.
Columbus Crew SC 2 New York Red Bulls 1

Patrick Murphy

I may be in the minority here, but the Red Bulls don’t scare me as much as others I’ve talked to recently. This is a team going in the wrong direction right now and a candidate to miss the playoffs if not careful.

On the other side, Crew SC is trending up. Unbeaten in six, I believe this Black & Gold group has found form at the right time. The key is maintaining that into and through the playoffs and this game will be important for that factor as well as in the standings.

New York put out a mostly full-strength lineup in Wednesday’s Open Cup Final loss to Kanas City. After resting players last week against the Philadelphia Union to prepare for the Final, I’m unsure what kind of lineup to expect from Jesse Marsch on Saturday. Could we see the turn of Dilly Duka to MAPFRE?

I see the Columbus continuing the current form at home and getting a good result. I also believe Ola Kamara stays hot and makes it five games in a row with a goal.
Columbus Crew SC 3 New York Red Bulls 1

Guilherme Torres

The New York Red Bulls have been tough rivals to Columbus Crew SC, but the Black & Gold have a good chance of winning this one and perhaps looking for a better seed in the Eastern Conference. Besides playing at home, Columbus had a full week to rest and prepare while the Red Bulls, who not only played on Wednesday but took part in a final, losing to Sporting Kansas City in the U.S. Open Cup.

The biggest challenge for Crew SC will be to quickly adjust to the Red Bulls' new system. Berhalted talked about it during the week, so it's likely the team has worked on it. I can see Columbus' offense thriving and its defense conceding one, but I believe in the end the numbers will be on Crew SC's favor.
Columbus Crew SC 2 New York Red Bulls 1

Ralph Schudel

I think New York will come into this match with a bad taste in its mouth following a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Sporting Kansas City for the U.S. Open Cup. That being said, Jesse Marsch and his squad are the masters of mind games and Crew SC could get into some serious foul trouble if not careful. With this team being so young and still lacking maturity at times, it could be something to watch for.

Another player to watch for New York is Luis Robles, the keeper didn't play in the Final on Wednesday and should be rested for the trip to Columbus. It's going to be a gritty affair but I don't think Crew SC take all three points.
Columbus Crew SC 2 New York Red Bulls 2

Collin Johnson

After a tough loss to Kansas City in Wednesday's Open Cup Final, the New York Red Bulls travel to Columbus. For Columbus, a six-match unbeaten streak is on the line, along with precious points in a three-way playoff race for two spots.

Crew SC has been troubled by NYRB's high-pressure system in the past, but Columbus will have the benefit of playing a Red Bull team on short rest, hopefully making that press less effective.

Kekuta Manneh's excellent game against Vancouver gives Gregg Berhalter a tough lineup decision to make. sit the steady Justin Meram or go with the potentially game-changing Manneh.

As it goes, winning on the road in MLS is incredibly hard. The Black & Gold desperately need a few more points to secure a playoff position, and there is no better place to do that than MAPFRE.
Columbus Crew SC 2 New York Red Bulls 1

Agree? Disagree? Let us know your score prediction and how this match plays out in the comment section below.