Every week, Massive Report will use FIFA 20 to simulate the upcoming Columbus Crew SC match to see how well technology can predict the Crew’s outcomes. In order to give this a more proper statistical feel and avoid flukes, we simulated the Crew vs. New York City FC match THREE times rather than just once.
No one can predict the future. Us soccer people think we can predict every game correctly but let’s face it, we get A LOT wrong most of the time. So we turned to FIFA 20 to predict this Sunday’s opening match to see if us humans can beat technology when it comes to Crew picks.
FIFA is probably the most accurate MLS simulator out there, unless someone has written a crazy program that can predict the MLS season after 10,000 sims. Since we aren’t coders and just writers that play FIFA, we can simulate each Crew game a few of times to get a sense if they will win each week.
The rules for each simulation are simple. Simulate the match three times, have the same starting lineup each game, the same weather conditions and allow the AI to play out each game. For this week’s encounter, we used MLS.com’s prediction for Columbus and New York City’s starting XI’s. Here are said lineups. Let’s see if FIFA 20 thinks the Crew can take down the reigning Eastern Conference top team from the regular season.
SIMULATION 1: New York dominates in 1-0 win
The first simulation was a walk in the park for New York City with the lone goal coming in the 27th minute from Romanian, Alexandru Mitrita. The goal came from a miscommunication between Darlington Nagbe and Vito Wormgoor that allowed Mitrita to snag the ball and play a give and go with Keaton Parks, finishing past Eloy Room.
Columbus barely touched the ball with only 36 percent possession and just two shots all game. The fullbacks Milton Valenzuela and Harrison Afful were the best players in the loss with both getting perfect pass completion and helping to create the Crew’s two chances. This is something we can expect on Sunday in real life.
SIMULATION 2: Nothing happens in 0-0 draw
The second game literally had nothing happen. No joke. The Crew didn’t get a shot on-target while NYCFC didn’t create any good chances either. The best chance, which you’ll see in the highlights video below, came from the Crew when Valenzuela built up from the left side and some one-touch passing between Lucas Zelarayan and Youness Mokhtar led to an Afful shot saved by Sean Johnson.
Two sims down. No wins for the Crew.
SIMULATION 3: New York win again; this time 2-0
And after the three sims, no wins or goals for the Crew on opening weekend. New York took control in the first half and didn’t look back in the final simulation. Heber rifled one past Room from about 19 yards out in the fifth minute. The second goal was odd as an Ismael Tajouri-Shradi shot deflected off the post, off Room’s back and allowed Keaton Parks to tap it in. Also Maxi Moralez missed a penalty kick cause the ball morphed through his right foot...
Yet again, the Crew barely created any chances and held the ball for virtually no time. Honestly, I don’t see hoow these score lines or how NYCFC scored comes to life but I think we learned who could be the top performers on Sunday.
What did we learn
At the end of a FIFA 20 game, each player receives a rating out of 10. Every player starts with a rating of 6.0 and depending on goals, assists, passes completed, dribbles completed or lost, tackles, etc., the game gives them a final rating. Here were the best three performers for each team when we averaged the ratings.
Columbus Crew SC - Harrison Afful (6.9), Luis Diaz (6.7), Darlington Nagbe (6.6)
New York City FC - Keaton Parks (7.9), Maxi Moralez (7.7), Alex Ring (7.6)
Moralez and Ring played on Wednesday in the CONCACAF Champions League so we’ll see if their stamina levels can keep them fresh to put up those kind of performances. Harrison Afful should be great out of the back in his return and I think Darlington Nagbe can have an exceptional game in his Crew debut.
Overall, I don’t think NYCFC will dominate like they did in the simulations. It should be an exciting game with high-octane offense and the Crew should have opportunities to create clear goal-scoring opportunities. Let’s hope the Crew prove FIFA wrong this week.