Red Bulls shoot for road win over Crew

The New York Red Bulls can gain ground on Columbus Crew SC in the Eastern Conference if they can return to their winning ways in Major League Soccer on Saturday.

New York (7-4-1) saw a five-game unbeaten run end with a 2-1 loss to the New England Revolution last Saturday but responded with a 4-0 victory over rival New York City FC in a Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup fourth-round match on Wednesday.

Even though Red Bulls coach Jesse Marsch held out several regulars, he liked the approach of the team against NYCFC and thinks the outcome can build momentum heading into the match at Mapfre Stadium vs. the Crew (7-3-5).

“It’s a chance for us gain to showcase our team and showcase our club and showcase what we do here and no doubt our players went out there and did that,” he said. “It’s a big sense of pride from the result and the performance.”

The Crew’s 26 points are good for third in the conference, four points and one place ahead of the Red Bulls, but New York has played three fewer matches and averages more points per game than Columbus (1.83 to 1.73).

In addition to the battle for points, the game features the second-leading scorers in the league. New York’s Bradley Wright-Phillips and the Crew’s Gyasi Zardes each have nine goals, one behind Josef Martinez of Atlanta United.

There is a contrast in styles between New York and Columbus. The Crew love to have the ball and win the possession game.

Not so for the Red Bulls.

“If you want to play the beautiful game and pass the ball around and you want think all about possession, this is not your place and it won’t work,” Marsch said. “You have to buy into who we are and how we do things. If you do, you will be rewarded.”

Whatever the Crew have been doing lately is working. They are 4-0-4 in the past eight matches and last Saturday for the first time in their history rallied from three goals down for a 3-3 draw with Toronto FC.

Columbus is also coming off a midweek Open Cup match, having lost 2-1 to the Chicago Fire on Wednesday in an 11-round shootout with a lineup of mostly reserves.

“I think it’s showing that guys believe now they can compete at this level, and we’re taking it as a real positive game,” Crew coach Gregg Berhalter said.

Columbus needs a deep bench because for the second straight match it will be without goalkeeper Zack Steffen (who was the MLS Player of the Month for having five straight shutouts in May) and midfielder Wil Trapp as they continue their tour with the U.S. National Team, which plays Saturday in France.

New York goalkeeper Luis Robles, who has missed the past three games with a knee injury, is expected to start. Before the injury, he had played a league-record 183 consecutive matches.