New York City FC is coming off of a 2-1 defeat to a much improved Orlando City SC side this season. Cyle Larin continued his impressive scoring record in Yankee Stadium and grabbed both Orlando goals. David Villa also scored but it was too little too late.
Columbus Crew SC also suffered a tough defeat in their last match as they lost 2-0 to NYCFC's cross-town rivals, New York Red Bulls. Columbus conceded two first half goals and couldn't find a way to grab a goal of their own in the second half.
Both NYCFC and Columbus Crew will be looking to grab three points on Saturday as both clubs will be upset with how their last match played out.
New York City FC: New York City were fortunate to not pick up any injuries in training this week similar to the one Costa Rican international Ronald Matarrita in training prior to the match vs Orlando. The injury proved crucial as New York City were forced to play Costa Rican teammate Rodney Wallace in place of Matarrita.
Wallace was targeted and arguably at fault for both of the goals New York City conceded. Unfortunately, Matarrita will also miss the match vs Columbus on Saturday and City manager Patrick Vieira will have to decide if he wants to continue playing Wallace in his place.
Khiry Shelton will also continue to be sidelined with an injury. The winger picked up a hamstring strain vs the Philadelphia Union last time New york City was on the roaNewHowever, NEw York City has plenty of players capable of taking his place. In fact, the injuries to both Matarrita and Shelton gave Thomas McNamara the opportunity to prove his worth once again.
McNamara was a fan favorite last season and with good reason. The New York native scored five goals and added nine assists in 2016 and will hope he can take advantage of his teammates injuries this week.
Columbus Crew SC: While New York City only has two injured players on their roster, Columbus is not quite as fortunate. With four players guaranteed to miss the game with injury and four more currently labeled as "questionable" the Columbus side are definitely weakened.
Two of the players who will definitely miss the game are Gaston Sauro and Ben Swanson. The pair will miss the rest of the season with injury. Connor Maloney will also miss the match due to currently carrying a concussion. Artur, who just underwent wrist surgery, will also miss another three weeks.
Jonatahan Mensah, Brad Stuver, Alex Crognale, and Dilly Duka are the four Columbus Crew platers how are currently labeled as questionable. While Columbus would obviously like to see all their players return fully fit, they'll really be looking forward to Ghana international Jonathan Mensah to return.
Columbus signed Mensah as a designated player in the offseason and expect him to be a big piece of their team this season and for many years to come.
A win this weekend could see Columbus move back to the top of the Eastern Conference. The Columbus side is just two points behind the current leaders and would love to be back on top of the conference. On the other hand, a win for New York City would see them move ahead of Columbus. While it is still very early in the MLS season, moving ahead of conference rivals is never a bad thing.
Columbus have the better of the series as they have only ever lost to New York City one time in five meetings. The clubs have drawn twice and Columbus has also managed to pick up two wins. The only City win was the last time the two sides met. City put on a dominant performance and managed to win 4-1 late in the 2016 season.
Expect goals, a lot of them. Both sides have scored in every single match that the sides ave faced off. The games average 4.6 goals per game so expect to see a very exciting, high scoring match.
New York City will play five of their next six MLS matches away from home starting Saturday. With only one road win on the season they will definitely be hoping to improve that starting with Columbus.
What To Watch For
Expect to see Patrick Vieira tinker with City's lineup. Heading into the season the club was heavily praised for the depth at the club in almost every position. Vieira will definitely have his club to play the ball out of the back as they have done since his arrival, but don't be too surprised to see a new system on the pitch. Rodney Wallace was definitely missed in the attacking third against Orlando and with depth in the fullback position we could see a change.
RJ Allen who had a phenomenal 2016 would love to get back out on the pitch. Shannon Gomez who missed most of last season with an injury would also love to make his debut. Offseason signing Ben Sweat is another player who would love to see more of the field in 2017. In fact, the only other MLS club Ben Sweat has ever played for was Columbus.
Don't be too surprised to see City possess a lot of the ball on Saturday as that is one thing they are known for. However, a high Columbus press could make things difficult for the blue side of New York.
David Villa and Justin Meram would also love to continue their hot start to the MLS season. Meram has scored four goals, which is already halfway to his highest ever MLS tally in goals. He has also added two assists this season and will look to do more of that on Saturday. David Villa has bettered Meram in each category by one. The 2016 MLS MVP has five goals and three assists and will also look to help his team this weekend by doing exactly what he's been doing since his arrival in the league in the 2015 MLS season.