For the fifth time, Columbus Crew SC and the New York Red Bulls will square off in the MLS Cup Playoffs as the Eastern Conference foes meet in a Round One Match on Nov. 21 in Columbus, Ohio.
Columbus defeated the Red Bulls, 2-0, on July 16 in the group stage of the MLS is Back Tournament, with Gyasi Zardes burying the game-winner before Lucas Zelarayan connected from distance for the insurance tally.
In post-season play, the Crew is 5-2-0 all-time against New York at MAPFRE Stadium, with the most recent home playoff match going 1-0 in Columbus's favor back in 2018.
HIGHLIGHTS | Columbus Crew 2, New York Red Bulls 0 | July 16, 2020
Regular Season Recap
After losing just once in their first 13 games of the season, Columbus was hit hard by injuries, with influential players like Zelarayan, Zardes, Darlington Nagbe, and Eloy Room missing significant time.
As a result, Columbus won just one of their next seven, but staved off a late-season slump with three consecutive wins at MAPFRE Stadium, including a 2-1 win over Supporters' Shield-winning Philadelphia, to clinch a No. 3 seed and ensure at least one more playoff game at home, where the Crew went 9-1-0 during the regular season.
The Red Bulls season was a rollercoaster one, with Chris Armas relieved of his duties in early September. Bradley Carnell took over as a caretaker before the club hired Gerhard Struber, who has yet to join the club. Their best run of form came after the club signed Caden Clark, with the Red Bulls losing just once in their last seven, including a Decision Day presented by AT&T win over Toronto FC, which made sure there'd be no Supporters' Shield celebration for the visitors at Red Bull Arena.
Columbus Crew SC
A new downtown stadium is on the horizon, but the Crew made sure MAPFRE Stadium would host at least one more playoff game, beating Atlanta United 2-1 on Decision Day. Zelarayan and Zardes scored a goal in each half to give Columbus a two-goal lead before Marcelino Moreno scored from the penalty spot to pull Atlanta back a goal just before the hour mark. Porter thinks it's a win that provides them a good preview of what's ahead in a matchup against the Red Bulls.
"Our mentality was really strong and that will get us ready," Porter said after the match. "Those are the little things that we’re going to have to manage: balls in the air, we’re going to have to grind and it’s probably not going to be the most aesthetically pleasing match, but it’s win and advance. It doesn’t matter. Win and advance."
Earlier this week, Porter said that RBNY's tactics never make it an "easy" game, but that the Crew have proven this season to be able to cope with what they'll bring to the table, particularly in the transition game.
INTERVIEW | Caleb Porter ahead of #CLBvRBNY
New York Red Bulls
The Red Bulls response from a heavy Hudson River Derby defeat was a good one, racing out to a two-goal lead in the first half to beat a Toronto FC side that were alive in the Supporters' Shield race on Decision Day. Tom Barlow and Brian White scored a pair of goals two minutes apart before the half-hour mark to move the Red Bulls into sixth place and avoid a Play-In Match.
"Obviously we wanted to move on from the last game as quickly as possible and right our wrongs," White said after the match. "Coming out against Toronto, who we know is a good team and they’re fighting for the Supporters’ Shield so to get a win against them I think is huge in terms of flipping the script from the last game and building momentum going into the playoffs against a good team in Columbus."
The Red Bulls are only 3-3-4 away from home but have scored 15 of their 29 total goals on the road, propelled by an impressive 21.43-percent shot conversion rate.
Saturday's match kicks off at 3 p.m. ET and will be broadcast on UniMas, TUDN, and SportsTime Ohio, in addition to being streamed live on www.MLSsoccer.com and the MLS App. A live English language radio broadcast will be available at ESPN Columbus 1460 AM and www.971thefan.com, and a live Spanish language audio stream will be available at www.ColumbusCrewSC.com/liveaudio.