Tied for the most home wins in Major League Soccer with six, a victory on Sunday over visiting New York City FC (8-7-3) will put Columbus Crew SC (9-4-4) within striking distance of potentially securing a playoff berth in the coming week as less than a month remains in the regular season.
Currently in third place in the Eastern Conference with 31 points, Columbus looks to rebound from Wednesday's defeat at FC Cincinnati against a New York City side that is 3-3-3 on the road this season.
Sunday marks the third meeting this season, with both teams winning 1-0 at home. In fact, that's been the scoreline in the last three encounters with the home team winning each time.
Columbus Crew SC
With the Club's latest win dating back nearly a month ago, the Black & Gold are 0-3-1 in the last four and remain seven points back of Toronto FC for the Supporters' Shield lead with six regular-season matches remaining.
It's been an atypical last few weeks, to say the least, as Columbus supporters became used to seeing the Club at the top of the Supporters' Shield standings after starting the season with a 9-1-3 overall record, including going 5-0-1 overall to start the regular season.
Now, the Crew has lost three of its last four matches, including Wednesday's road defeat, which led to a post-match apology from Head Coach Caleb Porter.
“Obviously this is a tough moment and I apologize to the supporters,” Porter said. “I know they're down tonight and there's nothing that hurts me more than to have our supporters not happy. It's very disappointing to me, for sure. There won't be many guys in the locker room that are sleeping tonight.”
This season, Columbus is 2-1-0 in the next home match following a loss or draw on the road, while the Crew's 13 home goals total ranks in the top-10 League-wide.
New York City FC
On a day the club announced midfielder James Sands was out indefinitely with a fractured foot, NYCFC rallied to earn a 1-1 draw with red-hot Orlando City SC Wednesday night at Exploria Stadium.
Keaton Parks scored the equalizer for NYCFC, which expects to welcome Maxi Moralez back to the lineup against Columbus.
"The last 10 games he has been one of the best players on the team," Ronny Deila said of Parks. "He [covers] a lot of space. He always looks forward. He gets into positions. He is steady on the ball. Tight, good touches. He's growing every day. He's now a really good player, but he's going to be even better if he keeps working the way he does. I thought the midfield today with [Alex Ring], Keaton and Jesus [Medina] was good. They controlled the midfield and it's easier to control the game as well."
New York City last came to Columbus on March 1 for the season-opener, as Lucas Zelarayan scored the game-winner against a 10-man City side. After an 0-4-0 start to the season, NYCFC has since gone 8-3-3 and remains in sixth-place in the East.
On the road, City averages less than a goal per game and has scored two or more goals in a road match just twice this regular-season.
Kickoff for Sunday is scheduled for 6 p.m. ET | HOW TO WATCH