As the New York Red Bulls opened their 2019 calendar season, with a goal aggregate victory over Club Atletico Pantoja of the Dominican Republic in the CONCACAF Champions League, now comes their MLS season opener on the road at the Columbus Crew.
The club that the Red Bulls eliminated in the 2018 MLS Cup Playoffs, as they were down a goal on aggregate after the first leg on the road, then came back to Red Bull Arena and poured three past Zach Steffen. Goals from Alex Muyl and a brace by Daniel Royer, gave the club a three goals to one aggregate victory to move into the East Finals.
But now a brand new season is upon us and the Crew have had a few changes within their coaching staff, sporting director and of course brand new ownership, as the Haslem family who owns the NFL Cleveland Browns, are part owners with local Columbus businessmen that have purchased the Crew from Anthony Precourt.
That means you can expect a sold out Crew Stadium as the threats of Precourt, trying to pry this MLS Club away from the Capital city in the state of Ohio, were thwarted. You saw signs from Crew Supporters, and on social media accounts having that hashtag “Save the Crew” until the club was truly saved.
This is going to be a different type of a season opener on the road for the Red Bulls, as we are going to see a sold out stadium for the home side, as they are going to have their hands full with all the emotions coming from the fans and it will be poured onto the field.
Expect the Columbus Crew to really compete once the opening whistle from the referee is blown, they want to give their loyal supporters a league season opening victory very badly. Of course we know that the Red Bulls are aware of what’s in front of them.
But at the same time they have to be aware, which they are, that they have another match coming within the next three to four days as they will face a huge test in Santos Laguna from Liga MX, who just destroyed Club Deportivo Marathon from Honduras with a 11-2 aggregate victory.
So you can expect roster rotation in this one and I would expect some changes and we can see players like Amro Tarek, Sean Nealis coming on as a starter and Kemar Lawrence who only had 45 minutes in the second half of the first leg at Pantoja in the Champions League.
There should be a solid mix of players who haven’t had a chance at a start yet, also some players who might have had some minutes as substitutes in the Champions League, possibly get a full 90 minutes, but we must wait for the official roster set up to pop up at 4:30PM this coming Saturday.
But as I have said the Red Bulls must be careful, as this season opener for the club on the road will be completely different as the possible move from Columbus to Austin, Texas was thwarted by help from within and in Cleveland.