Columbus Crew SC took care of business in the first leg of the Eastern Conference semifinals on both ends of the field. In a 1-0 win, the defense, and timely saves from MLS Goalkeeper of the Year Zack Steffen, kept the dangerous the New York Red Bulls off the board. An important feat where road goals serve as a tiebreaker. The Gyasi Zardes goal gave the Black & Gold the lead through the first half of the series.
It’s clear what the Red Bulls will do, they will follow their high pressure game plan, but with even more pressure. Their offense is best when creating turnovers and they’ll try to do just that. Even if they have the possession edge, they’ll still look to press early and often when Crew SC regain the ball in hopes of creating an easy look at goal.
Columbus and Gregg Berhalter have a choice to make. With the edge in the series, they can look to play a little more defensively and then hit on the counterattack. While the defense has been very good this season, it’s not equipped to defending a siege for 90 minutes. It’s more likely that Berhalter will look to push forward and have Crew SC play their normal game. A goal from the visitors might push the game out of reach.
87’ Zardes has a good look and fires on goal but Robles makes a diving save.
84’ Crew SC substitution: Luis Argudo on for Meram.
82’ Crew work the ball up the field. Valenzuela whips in a cross and Afful fires his open shot over the bar. 3-1 deficit still.
81’ Crew SC substitution: Cristian Martinez on for Santos.
79’ Crew SC substitution: Patrick Mullins on, Sauro off.
76’ Royer does it again. Powers a shot into the net. #CrewSC’s hopes are slipping away quickly
73’ Royer gives RBNY the lead. Quick passing around the penalty box pulls the Crew apart. 2-1 on aggregate for the home side.
70’ Sauro wins the ball and plays it forward. He continues his run and Meram finds him on the cross but he can’t get there before the RBNY defender.
67’ Jonathan takes a shot to the head from Muyl who goes over the top of him. Both players are down as the official stops the game.
63’ Valenzuela taken down with a very late tackle. No card to Parker.
58’ Valenzuela loses out one v one. The ball to the top of the box for Adams is accurate but the midfielder puts it over.
46’ The second half is underway!
HT: RBNY 1 Crew SC 1
45’ Meram cuts inside and tries again. This shot is deflected over. Crew corner.
36’ Afful’s cross finds the head of Zardes but he can’t put it on frame. First real chance of the night for the Crew.
24’ RBNY get tricky with the free kick and play it wide looking for a cross. Steffen is able to collect.
17’ Free kick played to the back post. Royer heads it back across and Long heads it home. 1-0, 1-1 on aggregate.
13’ Adams pulls down Trapp on the break. No card, despite the rule.
7’ Lawrence has the first chance fo the game. His header at the back post goes wide of the opposite post.
1’ The second leg of the Eastern Conference Final has begun!
How to Advance:
With the 1-0 first leg lead, Crew SC has the advantage and goal at Red Bull would make it difficult for the Shield winners.
Injuries & Suspensions:
Columbus Crew SC: Niko Hansen and Mike Grella are the players on the injury list for the Black & Gold. Hansen will be out for the season after picking up his ankle injury in the game against D.C. in the knockout round. Federico Higuain, Eduardo Sosa, and Milton Valenzuela are on yellow cards and the next carried a one game suspension.
New York Red Bulls: The injury list is long. Midfielders Florian Valot, Vincent Bezecourt, and Ben Mines are out for the season. Joining them on the season ending injury list are defenders Kyle Duncan and Tommy Redding. Marc Rzatkowski’s calf strain has healed and he’s available after being out the first leg. Sean Davis is carrying a yellow card and would be suspended if he picks up another in this game.
How to watch:
Date: Sunday, November 11th, 2018, 7:30 p.m. ET
Venue: Red Bull Arena (Harrison, NJ)
TV: FS1, FOX Deportes