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Match Preview: New York Red Bulls vs Columbus Crew; MLS 2017, Week 8

The Crew visits Red Bull Arena as the top team in the Eastern Conference.

MLS: Columbus Crew SC at New York Red Bulls Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Red Bulls will look to continue their success at home this weekend when they welcome the Columbus Crew.

With last week's win over D.C. United, New York is now unbeaten in 17 consecutive regular-season home games. The match against Columbus is number two of a three- game home stand for New York that continues next week with the Chicago Fire.

The Crew are also coming into today's match in great form, winning four of their last five matches and sit atop the Eastern Conference. Defense has been key in the Crew’s recent success as they have conceded just four goals in those last five outings.

“This week we worked on ball movement. Knowing we are playing against Red Bull that are a high-pressing team. Moving the ball quickly to my teammates and being able to move it along quickly is going to be important for us,” Columbus center back Alex Crognale said to mlssoccer.com in the build-up to this weekend's match.

Last time the two teams met at Red Bull Arena the home team won 3-2. On that day Mike Grella scored one and Bradley Wright-Phillips bagged a brace. New York leads the all-time series with 29 wins and 93 goals in comparison to Columbus’ 26 wins and 80 goals. The series has also seen 10 matches end in a tie.

“I think given the nature of what these games like have been like against Columbus it's another one we know is really important. Columbus has had a good start to the year. They’ve altered a few things tactically,” Red Bull head coach Jesse Marsch said to mlssoccer.com. “They look solid this year and I think it will be a big challenge for us.”

Players to watch:

Federico Higuain

After an injury marred season in 2016, it looked like Higuain’s time in Columbus was coming to a close. But Higuain has come back life this season with goal and four assists in his last four starts. The talent has been there for Columbus with potent attackers like Ola Kamara and Justin Meram and it is now clicking once again.

“I've played a lot of times against Higuain. He's a guy that can make a difference. But we just need to put the game on our terms and me and Tyler and Sacha and the guys in the middle we need to take care of him,” Felipe Martins said about Higuain to mlssoccer.com.

Bradley Wright-Phillips

After a slow-start to the season Wright-Phillips has scored three goals in New York’s last five matches. The Englishmen is integral to any success the team will have this year as the team has yet to find a reliable secondary scoring option. It will be interesting to see if recent addition Fredrik Gulbrandsen can lighten Wright-Phillips load.

“It’s another challenge and myself and the back four are excited for that. Players like that you can't give them too much space on the ball and when they have the ball you have to close him down,” Crognale said to mlssoccer.com about Wright-Phillips.