On Tuesday night, Columbus Crew SC welcomed New York City FC to Mapfre Stadium for what could be the final home game these Columbus Crew SC fans will attend. The Columbus team will play the 2018 MLS season in Columbus but may be moved to Austin, Texas for the 2019 season.
Columbus beat expansion side, Atlanta United in the knockout round of these 2017 playoffs in Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The match was a very exciting scoreless draw all the way up until the penalty shootout. Columbus came out victorious and began preparing for NYCFC. As one of the top two seeds in the Eastern Conference, NYCFC earned a bye for the knockout round and Tuesday was their first playoff game of the season.
It didn't take long for Columbus to give their fans something to cheer about. In the 6th minute of the game, Ola Kamara opened the scoring. After some nifty dribbling from Pedro Santos, he cut the ball back to the foot of Federico Higuain who took a shot which forced a save out of Sean Johnson. Unfortunately, for NYCFC, the rebound fell to Ola Kamara who tapped the ball home and ran off in celebration.
The first half continued with chances at both ends. Columbus had numerous attacks where they could have doubled their lead but couldn't find the back of the net. Justin Meram missed an open goal that he definitely should have done better with.
New York City also had multiple chances that they could have converted. David Villa came close to scoring twice including a shot off the post. Rodney Wallace also had a chance to level the score but couldn't finish the chance.
Artur and Meram score
NYCFC defender, Alex Callens picked up a red card in the 52nd minute after elbowing Justin Meram in the face. After that, it didn't take long for Columbus to score a second. Artur received a pass from Higuain and slotted home the goal to double the lead. Unfortunately for NYCFC, the goals didn't stop there. In the 69th minute, Justin Meram grabbed himself a goal to give the Columbus Crew a three-goal lead.
Ola Kamara played a ball to his left which found Meram who rifled a shot at Sean Johnson. The keeper didn't do well with it and it went into his goal despite being a very savable shot.
David Villa brings one back
Despite being a man down and being outplayed for most of the second half, NYCFC found a way to grab a goal. David Villa was able to score due to Jonathan Mensah slipping in his own box. Villa collected the ball and hit it past Steffen to make the score 3-1. However, the game didn't end that way. Harrison Afful of Columbus Crew SC added a 4th after beating multiple NYCFC defenders in the box with ease and slotting it past Johnson from close range.
Following Sunday's match, the two teams will begin preparing for the second leg match at Yankee Stadium. NYCFC have been a good home team this season but will have a lot of work to do if they want to advance. The winner of this series will play the winner of the series between Toronto FC and the New York Red Bulls. Toronto won the first leg 2-1 at Red Bull Arena and are the favorites to advance as the second leg takes place at their home, BMO Field. Columbus are also favorites to advance after their 4-1 win on Tuesday. Do New York City FC have what it takes to comeback?