PREVIEW | Columbus to host NYCFC at MAPFRE Stadium as playoff push nears

Columbus Crew SC (11-8-7) meets New York City FC (14-6-6) for the second time this season on Saturday evening. The match kicks off from MAPFRE Stadium at 8 p.m. ET.

Crew SC traveled to Yankee Stadium in July and suffered a late 2-0 loss to NYCFC. The Black & Gold totaled 17 shots, including five shots on frame, compared to New York's 18 total shots and five shots on target. Early on, Pedro Santos and Harrison Afful combined for one of Crew SC's best chances, but could not get past NYCFC goalkeeper Sean Johnson. NYCFC broke the stalemate in the 80th minute before doubling the lead 10 minutes later. 

►#NYCvCLB MATCH HIGHLIGHTS

Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter is looking forward to a different result on Saturday night.

“I think New York has a ton of talent. I think — well I know— they create a lot of goal scoring opportunities, a lot of shots inside the penalty box. So, we know we are going to have our hands full but we think we can hurt them as well and we think there were certainly opportunities in the first game that we played where we could have scored goals and we’re looking to hit the back of the net in Saturday’s game.”

Last week, Columbus traveled to Bridgeview, Ill. to face the Chicago Fire and split points with the Fire thanks to a rebound from Niko Hansen. After subbing on for Ricardo Clark, Hansen found himself on the end of a blocked shot from Patrick Mullins and swiftly put away his goal of 2018 to salvage a road point. 

►#CHIvCLB MATCH HIGHLIGHTS

“Every game is different,” midfielder Justin Meram said when asked about preparing for Saturday's match.

“Personnel is going to be different and I think for us we just keep building. We went on the road, we got a point — it’s not the worst thing — and now we turn our focus at home in front of our fans."

New York City FC snagged a point during Heineken Rivalry Week last Wednesday as they drew the New York Red Bulls at Yankee Stadium. NYCFC was limited to nine men for the majority of the final third but did not let that stop them from earning a 1-1 outcome. The Red Bulls opened the scoring but NYCFC was not far behind as the equalizer was found shortly after the beginning of the second half.

With playoffs closely approaching, Crew SC is focused on keeping up its momentum to secure a spot in the postseason.

“We know how we are going to play and what we want to do against each opponent and every game is going to be different. But I think we tend to close out the outside noise and focus on us these last 10 games going up to playoffs and putting ourselves in the best possible position going into the postseason,” Meram said.

Columbus currently sits at fourth place in the Eastern Conference, eight points behind third-place NYCFC. The Black & Gold hold an all-time regular-season record of 2-3-3 against NYCFC, all under the direction of Berhalter. 

Next up, Crew SC is back on the road for two weeks before returning to MAPFRE Stadium. The Black & Gold host the Colorado Rapids on Saturday, Sept. 22 in a 7:30 p.m. ET kickoff.

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