Columbus Crew 2 attempts to get revenge against Rochester New York FC on Friday night at Monroe Community College after Rochester snapped Columbus’ seven-game winning streak back in May. RNYFC is responsible for handing Crew 2 one of the team’s two losses on the season so far, and doing so by a 4-0 scoreline at Historic Crew Stadium.
Crew 2 come into Friday fighting an uphill battle despite having the top record in the league. The Black & Gold will be without head coach Laurent Courtois after he entered the MLS NEXT Pro’s health and safety protocols on Friday morning. Assistant coach Kobie Johnson will step in his place and lead the team into Rochester seeking revenge.
In addition being unbeaten in June and since the game again RNYFC, Columbus has won all three of the team’s games in the month with a total goal difference of +12. Crew 2’s last win was against Orlando City B last week in a 6-1 victory.
The Black & Gold are on a three-game winning streak after Rochester snapped a seven-game winning streak at the end of May. The loss was by far Columbus’ worse performance of the season, with the only previous defeat coming to Inter Miami II 2-0 on the opening day of the year.
Rochester is coming off of a win in penalty kicks against New England Revolution II. RNYFC has reached penalties in two of the team’s last three matches. Rochester also comes in with the fourth-best record in MLS NEXT Pro’s Eastern Conference witth only one loss in the past two months.
RNYFC’s first outing against Crew 2 was a crushing win that saw the visitors make the league leaders look out of sorts. Rochester was able to find a way to limit the Black & Gold’s shots on target, and get the ball out of dangerous areas time and time again. The game also saw forward Gibran Rayo score a brace, as the Rochester attack gave Columbus tons of headaches.
“We were not ourselves,” said Courtois after the loss, “More important is for us to find our identity back, which I feel we kinda lost. It’s not the fact that we lost the game, it’s the fact that at moments. Some of us, we’re not ourselves.”
Clearly, the team found its identity again as Crew 2 immediately jumped back into the driver seat in the league and have one of the best attacks and defenses in all of MLS NEXT Pro.
The previous game against Rochester also saw Crew 2 without multiple notable names in the starting lineup, the biggest being MLS NEXT Pro’s golden boot leader Jacen Russell-Rowe, who was not with the team due to being loaned for first-team duties. Courtois was quick to make no excuses for the absence. However, the embarrassing loss showcased the importance of the striker, as his presence was sorely missed and he will get a chance to prove why he is so important to the team this week.
For many reasons, this game will be an important one for Crew 2 and it will be interesting how those emotions translate to the pitch.
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. ET on Friday and the Black & Gold are back at home on July 2 to host Philadephia Union II at Historic Crew Stadium.