The Columbus Crew look to return to their winning ways against the team ahead of them when New York City FC plays at Mapfre Stadium in Columbus on Saturday.
A three-game winning streak is but a memory for the Crew (11-8-7, 40 points) after losing at Atlanta and a tie at Chicago that leaves them chasing NYC (14-6-6, 48 points) for third in the Eastern Conference.
The Crew lost 2-0 at New York on July 14 in a match that was scoreless until the 80th minute.
“New York has talent,” Crew coach Gregg Berhalter said. “I know they create a lot of goal-scoring opportunities. They get a lot of shots inside the penalty box.
“It’s a strong team. We know we’re going to have our hands full, but we think we can hurt them as well.”
The Crew need three points not only to have a chance at catching NYCFC but also to stave a challenge by fifth-place Philadelphia, which has won four straight to pull to within a point of Columbus.
NYCFC had two players red-carded in its last match on Aug. 22 but still got an important point with a 1-1 tie versus the New York Red Bulls.
Midfielders Eloi Amagat and Ebenezer Ofori will serve their one-game suspensions against the Crew and midfielder Jesus Medina and forward Jo Inge Berget will not play because of injuries.
That makes the task of beating the Crew even more difficult.
“Columbus is a team who demands from us focus and concentration on every single pass, every single play because they play really, really well, maybe the best team in our conference when they have the ball because they are able to play two or three different ways,” NYCFC coach Domenec Torrent said. “We have to be focused on that.”
—Field Level Media