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TOURNAMENT PREVIEW | Detailing Group E opponents, plus how to watch, stream, and follow the Crew

Going into the MLS is Back Tournament, Head Coach Caleb Porter emphasized that the most synchronized team will have the best chance at succeeding.

Now, nearly 10 days into its training schedule in Orlando, Fla., the Crew has a regular-season match in its immediate sightline for the first time in over four months.


CIN FC Cincinnati

First up is #HellisReal on Saturday, July 11.

Midfielder Derrick Etienne Jr., who not only played for Cincinnati previously but also fellow Group E opponent New York Red Bulls prior to that, now has a fuller perspective about the rivalry's meaning heading into Saturday.

"I'm excited. I saw it from one aspect, so to see if from the other side, I see how much of a rivalry it is and how much it means, so hopefully I'll be able to make an impact in this one."

Opponent Info:

  • Record: 0-2-0
  • Last MLS Match: 2-1 loss at Atlanta on March 7
  • Goals/Goals Conceded: 3/5

MLSsoccer.com's Opponent Breakdown:

With the introduction of new head coach Jaap Stam in late May and the announcement that star goal scorer Jurgen Locadia would remain through June 2021, FC Cincinnati resolved the two biggest questions facing the team during the hiatus. Now it’s up to Stam and Locadia to deliver, beginning in Orlando.

Weeks 1 & 2: The Orange and Blue had strong spells on the road against two East powers in the NY Red Bulls and Atlanta United, but their comeback attempts fell a goal short in both cases. The biggest takeaway: Unlike their 2019 expansion season, this Cincy team gave the distinct impression that it can score goals.

Early MVP: Much like last year, Allan Cruz was a bright spot to start the season. The Costa Rican midfielder logs a consistent, tireless shift on a weekly basis, plus he now has eight goals in 24 MLS matches.

Tournament Prospects: They’ve already shown they can go toe-to-toe with Group E foes RBNY and Atlanta. Toss in a Hell is Real rivalry match and a potential new coach bump and the tournament group stage could help set the team on a new trajectory, especially if they can make it out of the group.

Ways To Follow:

  • Date & Time: Saturday, July 11 at 10:30 p.m. ET
  • Tune In: FS1, FOX Sports App, TUDN, TUDN App, TSN, TSN App
  • Virtual Fan Experience
  • Drive-In Watch Party at Easton

CIN New York Red Bulls

Originally scheduled to meet on May 2 before the season suspension, the Crew now face the Red Bulls on Thursday, July 16. The Red Bulls open the tournament on July 11 vs. Atlanta United.

The Crew played RBNY back in February during a preseason tournament, with Etienne scoring the opening goal within the first minute.

Opponent Info:

  • Record: 1-0-1
  • Last MLS Match: 1-1 draw at Real Salt Lake on March 7
  • Goals/Goals Conceded: 4/3

MLSsoccer.com's Opponent Breakdown:

The Red Bulls got even younger in 2020, saying goodbye to Bradley Wright-Phillips, Kemar Lawrence and Luis Robles. That leaves Daniel RoyerTim ParkerAaron Long and Florian Valot — a quartet who are all age 30 or younger — as the club’s veteran leaders. There’s a sense the red half of New York isn’t quite done building its squad, however.

Weeks 1 & 2: A 3-2 opening weekend win over FC Cincinnati probably shouldn’t have been as close as it was, and perhaps that squad experience — and some fine poaching from FC Cincy’s Jurgen Locadia — were the reasons the Red Bulls let the visitors back into the game. In some ways their Week 2 performance was more encouraging, even though it only resulted in a 1-1 draw at Real Salt Lake’s Rio Tinto Stadium.

Early MVP: After missing most of 2019 out with injury, Valot looks like a man intent on making up for lost time in the Red Bulls midfield, and in the process has announced himself as one of the early favorites for MLS Comeback Player of the Year.

Tournament Prospects: They say tournament football is a young man’s game, and if it’s true in this tournament that should certainly help the Red Bulls. But it’s a fair question to ask if their high press style will translate as well in the Central Florida summers. The Red Bulls, who have lost winger Josh Sims after the expiration of his loan, also face a tough schedule with opening games against Atlanta United and the Columbus Crew.

Ways To Follow:

  • Date & Time: Saturday, July 16 at 10:30 p.m. ET
  • Tune In: FS1, FOX Sports App, TUDN, TUDN App, TSN, TSN App

CIN Atlanta United

Under Caleb Porter, Crew SC is 2-0-0 against the 2018 MLS Cup champions.

Originally scheduled to meet in Columbus on June 27, the Crew will see a Josef Martinez-less ATL side in Orlando in the last group stage match on July 21.

Opponent Info:

  • Record: 2-0-0
  • Last MLS Match: 2-1 win vs. FC Cincinnati on March 7
  • Goals/Goals Conceded: 4/2

MLSsoccer.com's Opponent Breakdown:

It’s been nearly three months since Josef Martinez came out of surgery to reconstruct his torn right ACL. It would be peak Josef to see him make an odds-defying early comeback, but not in time for the Orlando tournament — as much as it would give him great joy to win a trophy in his archrivals’ backyard.

Weeks 1 & 2: Atlanta were perfect after two games with back-to-back 2-1 wins. Same score, same execution: The Five Stripes didn’t overpower Nashville and Cincinnati — they were simply better.

Early MVP: Emerson Hyndman and Ezequiel Barco were the game-breakers for Atlanta with all four goals. Hyndman’s emergence was promising, but the budding Pity Martinez-Barco partnership is what really had Atlanta fans dreaming big.

Tournament Prospects: With Miles Robinson and Franco Escobar back from injury — Escobar even helped ATLUTD win the eMLS Tournament Special during the hiatus — Atlanta have the depth and tactical flexibility to compete with any team and the difference-makers to come out on top … even without Josef. They enter the tournament as one of the favorites to win it all.

Ways To Follow:

  • Date & Time: Saturday, July 21 at 8 p.m. ET
  • Tune In: Twitter, TUDN, TUDN App, TSN, TSN App
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