Three weeks into the 2022 Major League Soccer season and the Columbus Crew is not only on top of the Eastern Conference but first in the Supporters’ Shield standings. Getting road points will be key to the team staying at the top of the table.
After securing a home victory against Toronto FC, the Crew goes on the road for the second time this season against the New York Red Bulls on Saturday. Interestingly, Columbus and New York have shared two opponents this year, the San Jose Earthquakes and Toronto, with New York securing multi-goal victories against both. The Red Bulls are coming off a disappointing home loss to Minnesota United.
The matchup between the Crew and Red Bulls has the making of a fun offensive game, as New York leads the league in total shots on goal (24) followed by Columbus (20). Both teams also lead the league in total shots. The Black & Gold have 37 total wins against the Red Bulls who have 34 wins and there have been 12 draws. The Crew will look to grow that advantage on Sunday by cleaning up the team’s set piece defending woes and relying on a defensive unit that has not given up a goal from open play.
The injury report for Columbus is the same as last week with Jake Morris (foot), Kevin Molino (knee), Josh Williams (thigh), Isaiah Parente (illness), and Sean Zawadzki (concussion) all out. With that in mind here is the Massive Report Predicted XI for the game:
There are two changes here from last weeks’ starting 11. There is plenty of talk about Gyasi Zardes right now and head coach Caleb Porter could give the striker a vote of confidence by putting him in the line. Zardes will give Columbus a better chance to play out of New York’s high press. There is no one better at winning a long ball and heading it in the direction of a teammate than Zardes, which is why he could get the nod over Miguel Berry. While both forwards have been praised for their defensive work rate, Zardes’ aerial ability could be what the team needs in set piece defending.
Luis Diaz is the other change in the lineup for the Black & Gold. Both Porter and Derrick Etienne Jr. mentioned how much Diaz changed the game for the Crew against Toronto. Such a strong substitute performance from Diaz might earn him the starting spot this week. Although, there may be a chance Porter chooses to leave Diaz on the bench as an option to change the pace of play and pressure the Red Bulls’ backline later in the game.
Porter has said Columbus will look to be more solid defensively this season and this will be a massive test for the Black & Gold’s backline. The Red Bulls got into the MLS Cup playoffs over the Black & Gold by one-point last season, so this is a massive game for both teams.