In their final match before the 2019 CONCACAF Gold Cup break, Columbus Crew SC (5-9-1, 16 pts.) returns home when they take on New York City FC on Saturday, June 1 at MAPFRE Stadium.
The Black & Gold are coming off of a 3-2 loss to the Colorado Rapids. In the match, Crew SC found themselves coming back from being down a goal twice before giving the final goal in the 89th minute. Forward Gyasi Zardes finds that the main takeaway from that match was the team’s ability to fight back.
“It was not the result that we wanted,” he said, “but you have to learn from every opportunity you have out there. I think we showed a lot of heart. We got ourselves back into the game twice. We never let go.”
As for NYCFC (4-1-7), they are coming off of 1-1 draw against the Chicago Fire. In the 40th minute, New York scored the equalizer when Alexandru Mitrita struck a ball from outside the box that rolled into the lower left-hand corner. This was NYCFC’s third goal scored from outside of the box, the third most in the League. Along with Mitrita, NYCFC’s goal production is led by Ismael Tajouri-Shradi and Héber, each with three goals apiece.
Going into the match, Crew SC wants to work to create spaces behind the lines. And by creating the spaces, they want to build confidence in themselves.
“We need to find space in the box and behind the lines,” said midfielder Pedro Santos. “Get some crosses. Attack the space. Attack the ball. Be aggressive and be confident. We need to keep confidence high because we know we are a good team.”
Along with creating chances in the box and behind lines, Crew SC also wants to focus their efforts defending set pieces. They believe that when it comes to defending set pieces a lot of the struggle is mental.
“Sometimes it's confidence,” said head coach Caleb Porter. “Those moments become more pressing and nervier when you are not getting results. That is maybe a part of it. That’s psychology.”
New York City FC provides the Black & Gold with opportunities to build confidence in their set-piece defending. So far this season, NYCFC ranks 22nd out of 24 teams having only scored two goals off of a set piece, only one of which was from an assist.
Not only does Saturday’s match provide Crew SC the opportunity to work on their set-piece defending, but it also gives the Black & Gold the chance to play against a high-tempo team, which Zardes believes will allow them to then raise their own level of play.
“NYCFC has always been a good team,” he said. “I know that they are going to come ready to play. I think that it is going to be good for us because whenever we play a team with a high tempo, we raise our level of play as well. I think it is going to be a great battle between both teams.”
Along with the opportunities that come with playing at pace, the Black & Gold see Saturday’s match as an opportunity to build momentum going into the international break.
“It is a six-point swing,” Porter said. “They have 19 points, we are on 16. So, we can literally go level with them and be above the playoff line. It is easy to lose sight of that. We have to keep perspective and understand that one-win turns everything.”
Kickoff on Saturday is slated for 7:30 p.m. ET at MAPFRE Stadium. Fans can tune-in on SportsTime Ohio or 97.1 FM The Fan or stream the match on FOX Sports GO as well as stream the audio on www.ColumbusCrewSC.com.