NY vs. CLB – Game Preview

NYvCLB29nov

New York Red Bulls vs. Columbus Crew SC – Eastern Conference Championships 2nd leg

Sunday, November 29th, 7:30 p.m. ET, Red Bull Arena, Harrison, NJ.

A lot is at stake for hosts New York Red Bulls in this Major League Soccer Eastern Conference Finals.  The Red Bulls, one of the most impressive, probably the dominant team in MLS during the regular season, were pretty much smashed in the first leg of the MLS Conference finals by visitors Columbus Crew.

Visitors Columbus on the other hand, that had a turbulent MLS regular season and were nothing but consistent, seemed to have get their act together towards the end of the regular season, and have been the strongest team in the MLS Eastern playoffs so far.

So how does it happen? That the Supporters’ Shield winners, and MLS regular-season powerhouse from New York are crushed by the Ohio team that had a wobbly start to the season, and with 58 goals against is tied as the worse team in the playoffs in goals conceded?

It probably has to do a lot with strategy.  Where the Crew are able to adjust their play in a way that enables them to neutralise their opponents strongholds and capitalize on their own assets.

And so it happened with Montreal Impact, where Columbus came determined not to allow Montreal’s star striker Didier Drogba anywhere near the ball, let alone create and capitalize on opportunities.

Continuing that type of momentum and methodology, Columbus Crew came on last Sunday to the first leg with the mission of cutting New York’s Bradley Wright-Phillips’ ball supply from the Red Bulls’ strong midfield.  And it worked for the Crew in a big way.  Similar to Montreal’s Drogba, Wright-Phillips was diminished from the biggest threat to just another player for the opposition.

Although it did come at a cost of heavy defending, of both back and midfield, but then the Crew’s attack made up for that with 2 goals on both ends of the night.

Still, Columbus’s Justin Meram’s goal less than a minute into the game was a combination of luck and skill, but unlikely part of the planned strategy, and without that momentum things may have turned different.

And the last goal on the 85th minute was a combination of Cedrick Mabwati’s fantastic dribbling inside the box and Kei Kamara typically being at the right place, in the right time.

New York Red Bulls have a very tall mountain to climb this coming Sunday, needing to shut deny Columbus from scoring, and score several goals of their own into the Crew’s net.  Highly unlikely? For sure, but still not entirely impossible.