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Massive Predictions: Crew vs. New York Red Bulls

How does the Massive Report staff think the second game of MLS is Back will play out?

Atlanta United FC v New York Red Bulls - MLS Is Back Tournament Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Columbus Crew SC came out on fire in the team’s first game in over four months. The Black & Gold debuted in the MLS is Back Tournament with a 4-0 win against in-state rival FC Cincinnati last Saturday.

Game 2 is on Thursday night — another late kickoff — and is against the New York Red Bulls. In their first game in MLS is Back, the Red Bulls scored an early goal against Atlanta United and were able to see the result out for a 1-0 victory.

That means the winner of this game, assuming there is one, will qualify for the knockout rounds of the tournament.

As we our known to do, we asked the Massive Report staff for their predictions for the game. Here is how our writers believe this game will go.

Derrick Smith

The Black & Gold had an amazing start to the MLS is Back group stage, winning convincingly 4-0 over FC Cincinnati. The winning however goes on hold this week as the Crew face a long term rival in the Red Bulls. I see a draw taking place.
Columbus Crew 1 New York Red Bulls 1

Andrew Atkins

Columbus Crew SC and thee New York Red Bulls enter their matchup with identical undefeated records of 2-1-0. A deeper dive into the two clubs could portray the Black & Gold as the favorites in Round 2 of the MLS is Back Tournament, however, with a five goal differential to New York’s two.

While it won’t be the trouncing FC Cincinnati suffered, I predict the Crew to emerge from Thursday’s match with a hard fought three points.
Columbus Crew 1 New York Red Bulls 0

Guilherme Torres

After an exciting debut against FC Cincinnati, the Crew can expect more difficulties on its way against the Red Bulls on Thursday. I honestly don’t think New York is overwhelmingly better than Cincinnati talent-wise, but they are miles ahead in regards to chemistry, team cohesion and organization. The Crew will need to do more than it did on Saturday to get another win and, most importantly, will need to cut down defensive mistakes or risk being punished by a solid if unspectacular side.
Columbus Crew 2 New York Red Bulls 1

Nick Hudak

That first game was fun, wasn’t it? The Crew emphatically beating its fiercest rival was quite the way to get back into the swing of things. However, now it gets down to business for Columbus.

Another longtime rival, the New York Red Bulls are no slouch whatsoever and the team too is contending for the top spot in Group E. Given the circumstances, RBNY was arguably lucky to escape its first contest with all three points. Atlanta United was dominant on the stat sheet, and, if not for a howler of an opening goal where their defense was ripped open and a late world-class save by David Jensen, the result could have been much different.

However, this certainly isn’t a tournament of could-haves, would-haves and should-haves. The Black & Gold have a difficult task ahead of them come Thursday but given the differences of each teams opening matchup, I expect a win but don’t be surprised if each side comes away with a well-fought point.
Columbus Crew 2 New York Red Bulls 1

Collin Johnson

Crew fans finally saw the potential of Caleb Porter’s system in full effect against FC Cincinnati during Saturday’s 4-0 demolition. In the earlier match, the New York Red Bulls used their heavy press to upend Atlanta United despite seeing only 30 percent of the possession in that match. Against Cincinnati, Columbus barely faced any pressure when the defenders played in possession. That certainly will not be the case against New York. If the Black & Gold can maintain the lethal finishing they exhibited against FC Cincy in combination with their own quick counter-attacks and press, they have the ability to all but secure a spot in the knockout stages. The Red Bulls will also push for a knockout spot against the Crew but do have the luxury of a match against FC Cincinnati to secure six points.
Columbus Crew 1 New York Red Bulls 1

Patrick Murphy

This could be one of the most compelling games of the MLS is Back Tournament thus far. Both the Crew and the Red Bulls are coming off opening-game wins but it’s hard to judge either team. The Black & Gold defeated a Cincinnati team that might have an issue in the USL Championship and Atlanta United is still trying to adjust to life without Josef Martinez. I think we will learn a lot from this game about where these teams stand in the Eastern Conference.

I think the Crew has more talent right now, as the Red Bulls are going through a transition period. But with the style New York plays, it’s always difficult to deal with the press. We also don’t know what the lineups will look like for either side, which makes this hard to call.

It wouldn’t surprise me if this game ends in a tie, but I’ll give the Crew offense the benefit of the doubt after Saturday’s eruption and say the Black & Gold take this one.
Columbus Crew 2 New York Red Bulls 1

Thomas Babcock

Well that was a good start. After demolishing FC Cincinnati 4-0 in a game that lasted two days (literally), the Crew’s next opponent in Group E is the New York Red Bulls. One major positive for the Black & Gold was the team was able to use all five of its substitutions, which should result in the team being more well-rested than their opponents from New York.

However, I do not expect this to be a walk in the park for the Crew, as the Red Bulls silenced a usually potent Atlanta United in their first group game, winning their match though an early goal by New York’s Florian Valot. The last few matches between these clubs have been hard fought, and I expect this to be no different.

The key matchup for this game will be how Aboubacar Keita (I’m assuming he will start again with Vito Wormgoor’s injury) handles the attacking threat from the Red Bulls. Keita looked great against Cincinnati, but then again so did most of the Crew. A good performance by Keita will go a long way towards easing any concerns from the absence of Wormgoor.

As for the final score, I expect both teams to try and score and get a win to stay on top of this group before the final game. Given the attacking threats from both clubs, I predict both teams will score but the Crew will come out on top in the Orlando heat.
Columbus Crew 2 New York Red Bulls 1

Adam Miller

After painting Ohio black and gold again, The Crew face New York Red Bulls in the team’s second match in Group E. Each team was victorious in their first match in Orlando, which makes this a critical fixture at the top of the Group E standings. It will be very interesting to see what approach head coach Caleb Porter takes tactically in this match. In the preseason match between these two foes, Porter and the Black & Gold attempted to play a more direct style featuring balls driven into the central striker as a way to break the Red Bulls’ pressure high up the field. While successful early on in that match, this strategies effectiveness waned as the match went on. If Porter and company elect to play this way again, look out for a fast start from the Crew.

In the end, these two teams are evenly matched and neither are in desperate need of a win so each team will likely take a more pragmatic approach to this one. Columbus will take the lead early but eventually will concede and settle for a draw to keep the team atop the Group E standings.
Columbus Crew 1 New York Red Bulls 1

Drew Niccum

The Red Bulls are a tough team, but it’s nothing the Crew can’t handle. Despite the team’s opening win over Atlanta, I’m still not convinced by this Red Bulls side, who are still good defensively, but don’t have a major scoring threat outside of Daniel Royer. This is a golden opportunity for the Crew to firmly secure first place in the group. While the Crew will be without Vito Wormgoor, Aboubacar Keita or Josh Williams will do fine filling in on the backline. If the midfield trio of Artur, Darlington Nagbe and Lucas Zelarayan continues to play well, Columbus will be in for a good night. The Crew is going to win a tough one, and Pedro Santos will get an assist or goal (assuming that he plays).
Columbus Crew 2 New York Red Bulls 1

Jay Homan

After Saturday night (or more like Sunday morning), it is hard not to feel like the Columbus Crew is going to run away with the group. In fact, I don’t expect the New York Red Bulls to have more than 40 percent of the possession in the match. But that is what the Red Bulls want. In a weird way, that is all part of the team’s plan. And it has worked quite well for the group so far this season. New York will surely frustrate the Crew with the Red Bull method of pressing, but the Black & Gold will eventually break them down to get one step closer to clinching the top seed of the group.
Columbus Crew 2 New York Red Bulls 1

Doug Hildreth

While most of us are probably still buzzing after the Crew dismantled FC Cincinnati, we need to hope the team can carry that momentum into probably the biggest game of the group stage schedule. The inferior opponent not withstanding, I loved the Crew’s mental strength in stepping up to the occasion after a long layoff. The team is going to need that mental toughness against the Red Bulls.

New York is coming off a narrow victory against Atlanta, and the team’s high-pressing system will test the Crew’s great passing accuracy. Darlington Nagbe will be key here in maintaining possession under the heat of the press, and Gyasi Zardes will need to finish chances when he gets them. Look for a little Lucas Zelarayan spark with the ball in a slugfest. Crew pull away late.
Columbus Crew 3 New York Red Bulls 1

Abigail Hintz

Both the Red Bulls and the Crew are coming off wins after their first games back in play, however one was a little more resounding than the other. New York scraped out a 1-0 victory over Atlanta on Thursday, while Columbus had a massive 4-0 victory over FC Cincinnati. Both teams are coming off of short rest, which gives neither the advantage and therefore gives the Crew the advantage, as I believe the Ohio team has the stronger rotation. Despite the news of Vito Wormgoor being sent home due to an ankle injury, the Black & Gold are still in a strong position to take the match. The team’s momentum is going to keep rolling and it’s going to have no trouble handling the Red Bulls.
Columbus Crew 2 New York Red Bull 0

Thomas Costello

Columbus Crew SC will face its first real test against the New York Red Bulls. New York is consistently a quality team, and I’m not 100 percent sure how Caleb Porter is going to line up. If he goes with a more conservative approach, giving guys time to rest, then it could be a long 90 minutes. I think Porter starts a strong first-team lineup, and it’s a close match. Lucas Zelarayan will net another goal, but the defense won’t have a clean sheet, as even FC Cincinnati showed in the early minutes of Saturday’s loss that Columbus’ defense is susceptible to being beat.
Columbus Crew 1 New York Red Bulls 1

Orri Benatar

Both teams had good showings on Saturday and they’ll continue their defensive discipline for Thursday’s massive encounter. Both teams are tactically sound, have clinical finishers up top and headstrong managers. If you get my drift using the word “both” to start both sentences, these teams are too even for me to pick a winner. Crew will stay atop of Group E after the late evening final whistle goes with another dazzling performance from the midfield duo of Darlington Nagbe and Artur.
Columbus Crew 1 New York Red Bulls 1

Patrick Guldan

Columbus looked great over the weekend, but the Red Bulls aren’t FC Cincinnati. The Black & Gold are facing a professional organization with a plan. The Red Bulls have lost a lot of star power and key players over the last few years, but they remain a deep team with a strong academy pipeline. This is a roster full of kids that know how to play the Red Bull way.

That Red Bull way is high energy with a lot of pressing. The Crew has traditionally struggled with that press and may be unsettled early, especially with the significant rotation that’s expected for the second game. Columbus will have to weather that early storm. However, that constant pressing defense will be a challenge to pull off in the heat and humidity of Orlando. Even in the late evening, the game will slow down and that defensive press won’t be as crisp. That gives the Black & Gold hope that if they weather the early press, they can grow into the game and even control it.

This sets up very much like a game of two halves. Early on, the environment favors New York. As the game settles, Columbus should have a chance to dictate. I see a tie with both teams scoring in “their” half.
Columbus Crew 1 New York Red Bulls 1

Jimmy Lentz

Coming off of a 4-0 win against a deflated FC Cincinnati squad over the weekend, Columbus Crew SC (3 points) is set to play the New York Red Bulls (3 points) in a game that could determine the winner of the group. Columbus should attack consistently through its new star Lucas Zelarayan, who will hopefully keep Gyasi Zardes and company involved in a myriad of creative combination plays in the final third. Or maybe Columbus just needs to earn a free-kick or two near New York’s 18-yard box for a repeat from Saturday night/Sunday morning.

It will be interesting to see how the Red Bulls will handle Zelarayan as well as how they will mark and anticipate the Crew wingbacks making deep runs on the outside and crossing into the box, which is a primary attacking strategy for Columbus.
Columbus Crew 2 New York Red Bulls 2


What do you think the final score will be on Thursday? Let us know in the comments below.