Zack Steffen - 3.30.19 - Atlanta United1

The Brief on #CLBvNE: 'We can’t take our foot off of the pedal'

Less than a month ago, Columbus Crew SC went into Gillette Stadium and earned a 2-0 road win over a physical New England Revolution team that had won its previous 12 home openers.

Now, less than four weeks since their last meeting, the Revs visit MAPFRE Stadium – the site of League-leading success for Crew SC – as the Black & Gold host New England as they come off their first victory of 2019 following a 2-1 win over Minnesota United FC.

At 1-3-1, New England has totaled five goals compared to Columbus’ six – both middle-of-the-pack in terms of League standings – but when it comes to chance quality, the Crew have a 51 percent shooting accuracy, the fourth-highest in MLS, compared to the Revs’ 33 percent rate, which puts them in the League's bottom four.

In last week’s 2-0 win over Atlanta United FC, the Crew put on a perfect first half performance in regard to shot conversion rate, netting two goals on two shots from Pedro Santos and Gyasi Zardes.

In looking back on that first-half execution, head coach Caleb Porter said there’s a lot to take from that performance.

“We can’t take our foot off of the pedal. We can’t take this next game lightly and we certainly won’t. We respect every opponent we play. And we are mindful of New England getting some confidence from the last game,” Porter said.

“We need to keep playing the way that we play in that first half. Again, I think people can’t lose sight of the first half because it was a soccer game and we were the better team when it was a soccer game.”

In the two sides’ first meeting, Columbus again posted a perfect shooting percentage with Zardes netting the half’s only goal on the Club’s only shot, a well-snapped header off a ball from Santos.

Notably, Santos has been directly involved in each of Crew SC’s three game-winning goals, delivering two game-winning assists before scoring the game-winner against Atlanta.

Key for the Crew will be holding Carles Gil in-check, something they showed success in on March 9 at Gillette Stadium. In that match, Gil, who leads the Revs in goals (3) and shots (15), was held to zero chances created and three total shots, none of which landed on frame.

The Crew’s top-tier defensive standing, particularly at home, will come to the forefront, as the Black & Gold remain tied atop the League in shutouts (3) and have held opponents to just 20 total shots on target through five matches. Additionally, the Club is tied for fourth League-wide in goals conceded (4), compared to New England’s nine.

After going winless in their first four, the Revs pounded Minnesota with 19 shots, which was nearly half of their season total going into last Saturday. Additionally, New England brings success in duel wins as they lead the League with 308.

Notably, Crew SC leads the League in recoveries with 371, a statistic emblematic of Porter’s emphasis on maintaining possession and shrouding the opponent upon losing possession, while New England leads MLS in possessions lost with 855.

As the Crew get set to play their fourth match at MAPFRE Stadium this season, the Revs come into an environment that has not bode well for them recently, having going winless in all but one of the last seven matches. The Crew, on the other hand, hold the most points at home League-wide since the start of the 2017 season with 89.

Regardless, it’ll be a battle, said goalkeeper Zack Steffen.

“They will be tough. They want to get some payback and they will come in here trying to disrupt us and we just have to stick with our game plan and focus and play our game.”

Kickoff on Saturday, April 6 is set for 7:30 p.m. ET at MAPFRE Stadium. Supporters can watch the match on FOX Sports Ohio, stream on FOX Sports GO, or listen on ESPN 1460 AM Columbus or www.ColumbusCrewSC.com (English & Spanish).

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