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New York Red Bulls lineup prediction: at Columbus Crew; 2018 MLS Eastern Conference Semifinals, Leg 1

Derrick Etienne gave RBNY something to celebrate at the end of the regular season - will he be rewarded with a start for the opening game of the playoffs?

MLS: Orlando City SC at New York Red Bulls Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

No fresh injury concerns reported, no suspension worries, a five-game winning streak to close out the (best-ever) regular season: the New York Red Bulls can’t ask for a better platform from which to launch a playoff campaign.

No reason to assume RBNY is going to do anything but put everything it’s got into quieting Columbus Crew from the opening whistle of the first leg of this Eastern Conference Semifinal series - which means no reason to assume RBNY is going to do anything but put its best XI on the field from the start.

In this observer’s estimation, that means:

Predicted RBNY lineup @ Columbus Crew, 2018 Eastern Conference Semifinals, Leg 1

The biggest question-mark in that lineup hangs over Daniel Royer, who hasn’t started a game since the end of September. In that time, RBNY has won three games and clinched the Supporters’ Shield - the latter achievement made safe by the persistence and talent of Derrick Etienne, who has earned the right to be considered part of his team’s first-choice starting lineup.

The Red Bulls are hot right now, and Royer has played just 11 minutes of the last 270. Maybe RBNY decides to start the playoffs by staying faithful to the players who closed out the regular season.

Who starts in Columbus? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.