Crew-Red Bulls Preview
The Columbus Crew need a win or draw to clinch a postseason berth. The New York Red Bulls guaranteed theirs nearly two weeks ago but could use the points almost as much.
The Red Bulls, coming off their worst loss of the season, will be without one of their top defenders as they try to delay a Columbus celebration Saturday night at Red Bull Arena.
New York (14-9-6) sits atop the Eastern Conference with 48 points but was grounded with a 5-2 loss to Orlando City on Sept. 25.
The Supporters’ Shield is still in reach for the Red Bulls, who are two points behind West-leading Los Angeles with five to play, but they are just one ahead of New England and Columbus (13-10-8) in the East.
The five goals allowed last week was a season worst for New York, and the defensive side will take a hit with Matt Miazga playing for the U.S. under-23 team on international duty. Miazga will likely miss one or two matches, but he will also miss two more as a result of a pair of yellow cards he received against Columbus.
With Anatole Abang also dealing with a hamstring injury, oft-injured Ronald Zubar will play opposite Columbus striker Kei Kamara, who has scored four goals in his last three games to up his MLS-leading total to 22.
Zubar has one goal in seven matches in his first year with the Red Bulls after injuring his hamstring in the season opener and his calf a few weeks later.
"I think he actually matches up well against Kei Kamara," said coach Jesse Marsch, whose team hasn’t lost consecutive matches since May 31-June 5. "I know he’ll be up for the task and we’ll make sure our team is prepared. We know Columbus pretty well."
New York took the first meeting 2-1 on March 28, but Columbus won the second by the same score July 4. Bradley Wright-Phillips scored a goal and assisted on another in the first game for the Red Bulls and also had a helper on Abang’s goal in the second.
Kamara had two assists in the second game, while Ethan Finlay scored twice, though he is also away from Columbus on international duty.
Columbus fell 2-1 to Portland on Sept. 26 but has won four of its last six. It closes the season at New York and Toronto before hosting D.C. United. The Supporters’ Shield, an East title and home field advantage in the playoffs are all still possible, though Columbus hasn’t kept a clean sheet since a 1-0 win over Chicago on July 15.
"We don’t want to wait until the last game," defender Tyson Wahl told the team’s official website. "We want to clinch and we want to push for the top spot."
Columbus is 5-4-6 away from home but has won four in a row and five of its last six.