Crew SC has an opportunity to make a statement on Wednesday at MAPFRE Stadium, and it doesn’t have to leave its own backyard to do so. Valencia CF will be in town, one of the greatest international opponents Crew SC has ever faced.
Fresh off of a 3-2 win over Almería, Valencia clinched fourth place in La Liga and a spot in next season’s UEFA Champions League Playoff Round with a record of 22-5-11. That means Valencia earned a spot in a tournament which boasts some of the world’s best professional clubs on its bracket. Valencia also hung with the best of the best, defeating every other top-six La Liga club at least once, with the exception of top-dog Barcelona.
Outside of the aforementioned Barcelona and second place Real Madrid, Valencia CF, along with Atlético Madrid, boasted the league’s third best goal differential (+38) and its 70 goals stood alone in the third spot. Needless to say, Valencia has proven its worth, but Crew SC Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter said he and is club is ready for the challenge.
“We are looking forward to competing against one of the top teams in Spain at MAPFRE Stadium,” Berhalter said in a statement. “Valencia is an exciting team with a lot of young, talented players and it’s going to be a great test for our group.”
Valencia CF will not bring its entire roster on its United States road trip, which includes a visit to New York City on Monday and Tuesday, but Wednesday’s roster will still be full of impactful players. Among others, Dani Parejo and Paco Alcacer, the club’s top goal scorers who combined for 23 goals this season, and regular starters like Javi Fuego, Shkodran Mustafi, José Gayá, and Antonio Barragán are all slated to make the trip.
Valencia CF is a patient side that will play possession-style soccer for much of the early proceedings before turning on the jets. The club fires off 11.5 shots per match and doesn’t score its first goal until the 40th minute, on average. 70 percent of the time, Valencia scored after the 30th minute. This contrasts slightly to Crew SC’s average first-goal time of 30 minutes.
“Our aim is to give a good showing of ourselves, which corresponds with a club of our stature, against a team from the thriving MLS; a league which grows year after year and features great players,” Valencia CF manager Nuno said in a statement.
Crew SC is 10-5-3 all time in international friendlies. Its most recent international competition came last summer against Barclays Premier League side Crystal Palace, which resulted in a 2-2 draw. Wednesday’s result could go a long way in marking the progress of not only Crew SC soccer, but MLS as a whole.
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