After a one-goal clean sheet victory down in Orlando last Sunday, along with some plaguing weather troubles in their return, the New York Red Bulls are rested and ready to face Columbus Crew SC on Saturday.
The last year has been difficult for Crew SC, as they have had to deal with certain matters out of their control. One, of course, is Gregg Berhalter, now the head coach of the U.S. men’s national team after five seasons in Columbus that included an MLS Cup Final appearance in 2015.
Caleb Porter, who was on the winning end of that Cup, is now at the helm. But he has had injury issues, the biggest to Columbus’ midfield maestro, Argentine playmaker Federico Higuaín, who suffered a torn ACL in the club’s road loss at the Colorado Rapids on May 25.
Since then, Crew SC have been near the bottom of the Eastern Conference, as the expansion side FC Cincinnati, dwelling with 17 points in 22 matches, is the only team below them in the Eastern Conference.
But Columbus did earn a huge win last weekend against the Montreal Impact, and some say they looked like the Crew of old.
“Yeah, I think they’re actually in a good way now,” Sean Davis said. “And so, especially at this point in the season, it doesn’t matter who we play. You know, we need to have complete performances, and we need to really look hard in the mirror and find ways to continue to improve.”
But while Columbus is not having a good season in most ways, the Red Bulls will still have to account for Crew SC’s U.S. men's national team striker. Gyasi Zardes has continued to be dangerous opposition for opposing defenders, with seven goals despite missing time during the Gold Cup.
“Gyasi is a smart and intelligent player with a lot of success in this league, rightfully so because of his ability,” Luis Robles said. “That’s translated with Columbus, but it’s a bit disjointed being in and out with the national team.
“I know they are excited to have him back, I also remember he scored against us a couple of years ago, and we have to be very aware of his tendencies. But I feel confident because, defensively, we have our guys back and we can get a run of games, and we can continue to grow in fluidity and confidence.
“For us, it’s not necessarily about the next team or the next opponent, again it’s about us, as long as when we find our rhythm it doesn’t matter who we play against. As long as we can put them on our terms, we will be successful.”
The Eastern Conference table is currently log-jammed, with the Philadelphia Union at the top with 39 points and only nine points separating them from the seventh and final playoff spot.
The Red Bulls, currently fourth place with 34 points, have time to climb up and a good opportunity to so immediately, against a wounded Crew SC side.