MLS Playoffs
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Columbus Crew SC vs. New York Red Bulls | 2018 Conference Semifinal Preview

Columbus Crew SC vs. New York Red Bulls
Audi 2018 MLS Cup Playoffs — Conference Semifinals, First Leg

MAPFRE Stadium — Columbus
November 4 — 3 pm ET
WATCH: ESPN, TSN, TVAS

After following the same script to pull off a Knockout Round upset for the second year in a row, Columbus Crew SC is looking to knock off a New York-area squad in the Eastern Conference Semifinals in back-to-back years.

Crew SC stunned a sold out Audi Field to silence Thursday night when they advanced on penalties after playing D.C. United to a 2-2 draw after 120 minutes. Meanwhile the New York Red Bulls are rested after capturing their third Supporters’ Shield title in six years with a Decision Day presented by AT&T win over Orlando City SC coupled with Toronto FC’s victory over Atlanta United.

At MAPFRE Stadium in June, the Red Bulls spent much of the game defending and Crew SC took a deserved lead on a 26th-minute goal by Gyasi Zardes before Alex Muyl leveled in the 57th minute in a 1-1 draw.

At Red Bull Arena in late July, Jonathan Mensah and Patrick Mullins struck, followed by a Sean Davis own goal to give Columbus a 3-0 lead after 31 minutes. The Red Bulls roared back after halftime and pulled to within a goal on a Mensah own goal and a Daniel Royer goal in the 69th minute, but the Black & Gold would prevail 3-2, becoming just the second team this year to win in Harrison and the only team in the East the Red Bulls didn’t beat this year.

The MLS originals have met three previous times in the postseason with Crew SC winning each matchup, including the 2008 MLS Cup and, most recently, the Eastern Conference final in 2015, prevailing 2-1 on aggregate.

Columbus Crew SC

Federico Higuain struck for a brace and Zack Steffen made a pair of saves in a penalty-kick shootout as Columbus upset D.C. in the Knockout Round Thursday night at Audi Field.

Nine minutes after Frederic Brillant gave the hosts an early lead, Higuain leveled on the half hour. The ageless Argentine playmaker netted his second on a rare header six minutes into extra time. But Nick DeLeon equalized 20 minutes later with a stunning strike and the Knockout Round would be decided in a shootout.

As he did a year ago against Atlanta, Steffen made two saves in the shootout, denying both Wayne Rooney and Luciano Acosta. Higuain, Wil Trapp and Niko Hansen scored for Columbus, who celebrated the upset when DeLeon skied his fifth-round attempt.

“I’m proud. It was a task and we didn’t play our 100 percent game, but having said that we were able to do enough,” Gregg Berhalter said. “I like the attitude of the guys, I liked the focus, just the mindset in this game. We looked confident. We weren’t fazed by the crowd and that’s going to go a long way in this next round.”

  • Suspended: None
  • Suspended after next caution: M - Federico Higuain, M - Eduardo Sosa
  • International duty: None
  • Injury Report: OUT: M - Mike Grella (left knee meniscectomy), M - Pedro Santos (right leg injury)

Projected Starting XI
(4-2-3-1, right to left)
GK: Zack Seffen — Harrison Afful, Jonathan Mensah, Gaston Sauro, Milton Valenzuela — Artur, Wil Trapp — Niko Hansen, Federico Higuain, Justin Meram — Gyasi Zardes

  • Notes: Higuain’s brace against D.C. United was his ninth all time for the Crew – tops for the team since 2007. … Including the playoffs Columbus is undefeated in four against the Red Bulls at home (3W-1D). They haven’t been held scoreless in Ohio vs New York since May 4, 2013.

New York Red Bulls

What seemed like a long shot became a reality last Saturday when the Red Bulls captured a third Supporters’ Shield title in six years following a 1-0 win over Orlando City SC on Decision Day.

Derrick Etienne scored the lone goal, atoning for a missed penalty kick in the first half, with a sensational solo effort in the 53rd minute. In addition to winning the Shield again, the Red Bulls also set a new MLS record for points accrued during a season with 71.

Now, the Red Bulls begin a quest to capture a first-ever MLS Cup after 22 years of postseason failure.

“We think, and I’ve said it recently, that this team, on the inside we know, is the best team we’ve ever had,” Chris Armas said. “That’s what we’re focused on, from more of an optimistic approach, what we have and what we’ve accomplished and what we haven’t in previous years.

  • Suspended: None
  • Suspended after next caution: None
  • International duty: None
  • Injury Report: OUT: M - Florian Valot (torn left ACL), D - Kyle Duncan (torn right ACL), M - Vincent Bezecourt (right MCL surgery), D - Tommy Redding (shoulder surgery), M - Ben Mines (broken left clavicle surgery)

Projected Starting XI
(4-2-3-1, right to left)
GK: Luis Robles — Michael Murillo, Tim Parker, Aaron Long, Kemar Lawrence — Tyler Adams, Sean Davis — Alex Muyl, Kaku, Danny Royer — Bradley Wright-Phillips

  • Notes: Bradley Wright-Phillips averaged 1.0 goals+assists per 90 in the regular season, tied for his best average in a season since joining the Red Bulls in 2013. … The Red Bulls kept 15 clean sheets in 2018, tied for the third-most ever in a MLS season. Four of those came in road games, tied for their second most in a season since 2010.

All-Time Series (Regular Season)

Officials

Referee: Nima Saghafi
Assistant Referees: Peter Manikowski, Jose J. Da Silva
4th Official: Armando Villarreal
VAR: Mark Geiger

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Current Form

Columbus
NY Red Bulls

Season Stats

Columbus Crew SCNew York Red Bulls
35Games Played34
14Wins22
11Losses7
10Draws5
45Goals62
47Goals Conceded33
381Shots352
161Shots on Target186
379Fouls committed398
357Fouls suffered387
84Offside88
226Corners184

Goals Scored

01234+TotalAvg
CLB138770451.3
RBNY411892621.8
01234+Avg
CLB245601.9
RBNY146422.1
01234+Avg
CLB1142100.7
RBNY372501.5

Goals Conceded

01234+TotalAvg
CLB1191041471.3
RBNY1510531331
01234+Avg
CLB466101.2
RBNY1132100.6
01234+Avg
CLB734311.4
RBNY473211.4
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