When Columbus Crew SC return to the pitch on Saturday night, it will mark the first competitive action the Black & Gold taken part in in nine days. Crew SC come back to MAPFRE Stadium off a less than stellar road trip that saw a 3-1 loss to Atlanta United and an uncomfortable 1-1 draw against the Chicago Fire.
The Black & Gold hope to get the positive momentum going again at home. Last time out the Columbus captured a win against the Houston Dynamo on Aug. 11, and who can forget Wil Trapp’s shot heard round the world when Crew SC stole a result against Orlando City at the death on July 21? The Black & Gold look to use more of that home cooking on Saturday against New York City FC.
NYCFC come into Saturday’s match eight points clear of Crew SC and looking to climb closer. It might not be easy for City, as they have claimed just five points in the last four matches.
Despite the recent slump, New York City are receiving contributions not just from David Villa, but a host of other players, namely Libyan forward Ismael Tajori-Sharadi, who is tied with the designated player with 10 goals this season. This is different than in previous seasons when they relied so heavily on the Spaniard for goals.
New York City at a glance
Leading Scorer: Two tied with 10 goals
Assists Leader: Maxi Moralez (13)
The last time they met
These teams last met on July 14th at Yankees Stadium in the Bronx, it was one of the first matches in the Dome Torrent era. NYCFC claimed the three points in the final 10 minutes with Jesus Medina finding Villa to end the deadlock in the 80th minute and Anton Tinnerholm getting the insurance goal in the 90th minute. It was a massive week for New York City, claiming nine points and holding steady at the top of the Eastern Conference.
NYCFC has utilized two primary attacking formations throughout the season. It isn’t uncommon to see them in a 4-2-3-1, but recently they have preferred using a 4-3-3 formation. Here is how the team lined up against the Philadelphia Union on Aug. 18.
New York City prefer to get the ball wide and play it along to Tajori-Shradi and Jo Inge Berget on the wings. While these players advance the ball up the field, Villa advances forward into the middle and decides which center back he wants to begin his run towards.
As Villa begins his run, service comes into the 18-yard-box from the wings. The midfield begins to press high on the opposing defense and looks to cause chaos in the penalty area. The press can overwhelm the opposition and force tough decisions on defense.
Torrent and his men aren’t shy about playing direct balls over the top though either. The opposition has to deal with the speed of players like Moralez, Tajori-Shradi, and Berget. Occasionally NYCFC get lucky and connects with Villa on a deep ball. The 36-year-old isn’t going to win many foot races but if he does, his finishing ability is lethal.
New York’s outside backs are suspect defenders at times, occasionally becoming too aggressive and allowing the opposition to walk into the penalty area uncontested. The outside backs also foul frequently and allow the opposition to restart play in dangerous attacking positions.
The center backs encounter issues from time to time as well. Too often they are caught ball watching as the opposition begins to pose a threat in the final third. This often stems from a missed assignment from an outside back and forces the goalkeepers into a difficult position.
How Crew SC win
Don’t expect any radical formation changes from the Black & Gold, but do expect great team instruction from Gregg Berhalter ahead of kickoff. The Crew SC coach will make on-the-fly adjustments as the game progresses as he sees what style of attack NYCFC choose to go with.
Columbus will remain compact at the center of the park and may opt to go with athleticism instead of physicality at the center back position to deal with the overloading runs.
Look for Crew SC to attack from the wings, specifically going after left back Ben Sweat and forcing him into some uncomfortable situations. There could be a high amount of restarts during this game as NYCFC looks to throw off the Black & Gold rhythm in the final third. Fans are in for a treat during this Eastern Conference contest and should expect a good match Saturday night at MAPFRE Stadium.