With more than five days of rest between games for the first time in a month, the Columbus Crew hope to carry their previously gained momentum into Harrison, New Jersey, on Saturday night. The Crew, coming off a ten-day break, will play their Eastern Conference foes the New York Red Bulls at 7:00 ET.
The Crew are currently just inside the playoff boundary, sitting in the fifth and final spot in the East with 42 points (12-9-6). New York is four points above Columbus, holding down the third spot with 46 points (13-7-7).
This will be the second meeting between the two teams this season. On April 7th at Crew Stadium, the Red Bulls tore Columbus apart in a 4-1 victory. Both Thierry Henry and Kenny Cooper scored twice for New York.
Columbus’ recent stretch of 7 games in 22 days ended in a 4-1-2 record. The defeat came in their last game against the New England Revolution in Foxboro on September 5th, 2-0.
New York is coming off of an extended break of their own. Their most recent game was August 29th away to D.C. United. The game ended in a 2-2 draw.
Crew head coach Robert Warzycha should have the pleasure of choosing his first choice starting XI tonight. The ten-day break allowed players to treat any nagging injuries. No players except the ones currently out for the season should miss the game due to injury.
The Red Bulls’ offense has scored the third most goals in MLS this year. In fact, they have so many offensive threats that a few may not even see the field on Saturday night. Kenny Cooper leads the team with 14 goals but has recently been replaced by Tim Cahill up top. Thierry Henry has 11 goals and 8 assists on the season. Sebastian Le Toux was a big mid-season signing but has yet to yield much production. Joel Lindpere’s clever play on the left flank is always dangerous, as well is Dax McCarty’s ability to control the game in the midfield.
Prediction: Crew 2-2 Red Bulls
At this point in the season, every team will be battling for a spot in the playoffs. The Crew’s offense has greatly improved from the previous meeting and now includes emerging stars Jairo Arrieta and Federico Higuain. This game looks to feature a number of goals but ultimately end in a deadlock.