Youness Mokhtar - 8.10.19 - FC Cincinnati - 2

The Brief on #NYCvCLB: 'We have to make it difficult for them to play in between us.'

Columbus Crew SC continues a three-match, nine-day stretch on the road against New York City FC (11-5-8, 41 pts.) on Wednesday, Aug. 21.

Winners of four in their last six, NYCFC is coming off a 4-1 road win at FC Cincinnati to maintain a third-place standing in the Eastern Conference, just four points behind Philadelphia and Atlanta, while the Crew (7-14-6, 27 pts.) remain seven points back of the red line.

Crew SC arrives at Yankee Stadium unbeaten in its last six matches, though unlucky not to be within three-points of the red line following two consecutive draws. That being said, head coach Caleb Porter sees his squad evolving in an upward trajectory while posting positive results, home or away, and often in comeback fashion.

“I love these players and I love this team and I think we’ve been unlucky based on dropping some points recently in this six-game stretch, but I love the way we’re playing,” Porter said post-match after Saturday’s 2-2 draw vs. Toronto FC.

“There were times, I’ll admit, earlier in the year I wasn’t feeling that way. I was feeling like this group needs to be different, needs to be better, we need some new guys. But this is starting to become the team that I envisioned, and you see how we’re playing and the goals that we’re scoring and the aggressive nature that we’re playing with.”

Porter continued, saying “it doesn’t look like when you look at the table, like we’re very close, but we’re a heck of a lot closer to being a very, very good team than it looks on the table, and I know that, and that’s the most important thing, and we’ll keep getting better too.”

As for Wednesday’s opponent, NYCFC has averaged 1.3 points per game against the Crew since joining MLS (3W-3L-4D), their fourth-lowest average against any Eastern Conference team. Additionally, the two sides average 4.1 goals per game combined, the fourth-most of any fixture NYCFC has played in, per Opta.

The two sides last met on June 1 at MAPFRE Stadium, trading blows en route to a 2-2 draw. Zardes opened the scoring in the first half with a PK conversion before Héber took advantage of a fortuitous bounce to tie it up. In the second half, David Accam and Pedro Santos linked up to take a 2-1 lead before Valentin Castellanos unleashed one from 30 yards out for his third goal of 2019.

The Cityzens continue to hold a prominent home-field advantage at Yankee Stadium, as only Los Angeles FC has fewer home losses (one) in MLS play than New York City FC (two) since the start of last season. Additionally, only three clubs have a better home points-per-game average in MLS play than the Cityzens (2.21) (LAFC, Atlanta and New York Red Bulls).

On the defensive end for Crew, Héber will be one to watch, as he comes fresh off a brace in the club’s 4-1 win over FCC and stands one goal away from becoming just the second NYCFC player ever to score 13+ goals in a single season (David Villa).

Midfielder Youness Mokhtar, who earned his first start for the Club last Saturday, spoke on NYCFC’s tendencies and what the team has to do to counteract.

“They try to play a lot of combination playing and try to play the short passes and in between, so we have to make it difficult for them to play in between us and try to force them outside and try to get the ball from there and make our own attack and own play,” Mokhtar said.

Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. ET and supporters can tune in on FOX Sports Ohio or ColumbusCrewSC.com for live English and Spanish play-by-play.

Topics: 

LIVE YOUR COLORS: Follow Crew SC on the MLS App - The official MLS app gets a major update for 2019, making it easier than ever to keep up with your favorite club, check standings, watch videos and much more.