FT: Columbus with a thoroughly deserved 2-1 win here. New York City scored first, but the Crew scored twice in three minutes to take the lead. The game began well for the Pigeons; David Villa had a great chance in the opening minute. Both teams played fluid, attacking soccer in the first 20-25 minutes, and it looked like we’d be set for an explosive, goal-filled game.
But from the 30th minute onward, Columbus controlled the pace and flow of the game, and repeatedly threatened to score. It was only down to some heroics from goalkeeper Sean Johnson and the defense that the game went to halftime scoreless. In the 53rd minute, Ismael Tajouri-Shradi scored his 11th goal of the season — which leads the team — off an excellent counter to put New York City ahead.
Seven minutes later, though, Columbus drew even. The Pigeons’ defense — specifically, Sebastian Ibeagha — didn’t close down on Harrison Afful, and he had time and space to score from distance. A couple of minutes later, the defense again failed to properly defend on a set-piece and Justin Meram scored cleanly on a header to put Columbus ahead.
From that point on, Columbus throttled down on New York City. They outshot the Pigeons 24 to 7 for the game. This was, frankly, an atrocious performance by New York City. They were lucky to be within drawing distance at the end; it easily, deservedly, could’ve been 4-1 or 5-1 at the end.
Next up for New York City: the New England Revolution on Wednesday. That’s a home game, at 7 pm. They’ll play DC United on Saturday, again at home.
90’: There will be four minutes of added time. New York City has threatened a little bit here at the end, but nothing has come off it. Lewis has had a couple of half-chances, but that’s about it.
84’: Columbus is completely in control. This game should really be at 3-1 or 4-1 by now. Columbus has won four of their last sixteen — and they’ve completely controlled tonight’s game.
78’: Ronald Matarrita comes off for Jonathan Lewis. For all that Columbus has controlled the game, New York City is entirely capable of getting a moment of magic or two from, say...Lewis. All is not over, not by any means.
Still: Columbus has outshot New York City 13 to 2 in this half. Thirteen! Shots!
72’: Columbus is back in control, and it’s deserved. That said, it’s not like New York City have been bad. They’re just not in sync. It almost seems as if instead of relying on a well-drilled set of tactical and strategic instructions for the game, the Pigeons are individually trying to come up with something on the fly to compensate for that lack of structure.
67’: Tommy McNamara’s night is over. He’s off for Valentin Castellanos. The one-time cult player was anonymous in a rare appearance, but in his defense, it’s hard to make an impact when you hardly ever get a chance to do that.
62’: Goal, Justin Meram. Columbus 2, New York City 1. Meram slots home the header off a set-piece corner. Ibeagha doesn’t really challenge him on the set piece, and Meram’s hardly ever going to miss when you give him such a clear shot on goal.
60’: Goal, Harrison Afful. Columbus 1, New York City 1. Afful takes a hard shot. It’s blocked by Ring, but the deflection falls beautifully again to Afful. He rockets the ball home, and Johnson cannot get to it. But it doesn’t help matters that no NYC player challenges Afful on either shot.
53’: GOAL NEW YORK CITY! TAJOURI-SHRADI WITH HIS 11TH GOAL! This goal comes utterly against the run of play! The play gets started with a possible foul by Ring on Pedro Santos. That springs Maxi Moralez onto the ball. He orchestrates an elegant counter-attack, patiently waiting for Tinnerholm and Tajouri-Shradi to get ahead of the ball, before he slots to the Finn. Tinnerholm drives forward, and gets absolutely trucked by Columbus’ Abubakar. The ball drops perfectly for Tajouri-Shradi, and he brilliantly slots home.
New York City is 12-1-1 when scoring first. They now lead 1-0, and Columbus will bitterly rue not converting their chances.
50’: An incredible tackle by Ben Sweat — a former Columbus player! — snuffs out yet another Crew attack. The game remains controlled by Columbus, however, with no sign of that changing.
47’: CLOSE FOR ZARDES! Gyasi Zardes misses scoring for Columbus by mere inches! New York City’s luck continues to hold. For how much longer will it hold, though?
45’: We’re off in the second half! Ben Sweat comes on for Rodney Wallace — not that you would have missed him. Sweat will be at left back, and Ronald Matarrita will be a left winger/left midfielder. This is likely Torrent’s first stab at getting his team back in the game.
HT: It’s scoreless, but Columbus is in firm control of this game. For about the last 15-20 minutes, the Crew have had one-way traffic. It’s only thanks to Sean Johnson — who’s had some excellent saves — that this game remains goalless. I’d say that Torrent needs to make some tactical changes, but the reality is that the reason Columbus controls this game is because of basic, training ground stuff like dropping off after losing possession, not forcing turnovers through pressure, and not moving forward when the Crew make a negative pass. Those aren’t tactical adjustments. Those are things that you drill relentlessly during the week, and it really says something about Torrent’s coaching that the Pigeons don’t do that during matches, especially on the road.
40’: We’re in the same old story — New York City have no creativity in the final third when they play on the road. There’s no incisive passing. When Columbus passes back, New York City isn’t pressing forward. They’re dropping back when they lose possession, and surrendering all kinds of space and time on the ball to Columbus.
36’: New York City are positionally discombobulated right now. Ronald Matarrita isn’t anywhere to be found on defense; he’s sometimes ahead of Ismael Tajouri-Shradi right now. Rodney Wallace is invisible.
32’: NO GOAL! It looks like Justin Meram has put Columbus ahead! But on further review, the Iraqi international is offside. The Crew are testing the New York City defense, and it looks like they’re the more likely to score right now.
30’: We’re still scoreless, but it’s not for lack of offense. This is an incredibly vertical, back-and-forth game.
22’: This is a wonderfully fluid game. Both Columbus and New York City have had their chances. Stellar defending and goalkeeping has kept the game scoreless.
15’: Both teams are not giving an inch here in Columbus. Worth noting that there were some torrential thunderstorms in Columbus before the game started. The pitch is slick, and it results in Meram slipping as he winds up a shot.
10’: We’re 10 minutes in, and New York City has had two clear chances on goal. Ibeagha just climbed up with a clear header, but Steffen was equal to the moment. Columbus is going toe to toe with the Pigeons. Second corner coming up now.
1’: Close from Villa! But Steffen is quick to the ball, and nothing comes from it.
1’: We’re off! Few teams have been as schizoid as New York City. They are a sparkling 10-0-3 at home; an utterly pedestrian 4-6-3 on the road. They’re 2-6-1 in their last nine road games, have scored 11 goals, and conceded twice as many — 22. If they’re going to make any kind of noise in the postseason, they’ll need to change things up on the road with a quickness.
New York City Starting XI: Johnson; Tinnerholm, Chanot, Ibeagha, Matarrita; Ring, McNamara, Moralez; Tajouri-Shradi, Wallace, Villa (c)
Subs: Stuver, Sweat, Awuah, Lewis, Bedoya, Scally, Castellanos
- Suspended: M - Eloi Amagat, M - Ebenezer Ofori
- Suspended after next caution: MF Tommy McNamara
- International Duty: none
- Injury: OUT: M - Yangel Herrera (ankle surgery), D - Cedric Hountondji (hamstring injury), D - Alex Callens (knee injury), M - Jesus Medina (hamstring injury), F - Jo Inge Berget (undisclosed injury)
Columbus Starting XI: Steffen; Valenzuela, Abubakar, Mensah, Afful; Trapp (c), Artur; Meram, Higuain, Santos; Zardes
Subs: Kempin, Jimenez, Williams, Clark, Argudo, Hansen, Mullins
- Suspended: None
- Suspended after next caution: M - Artur, M - Federico Higuain
- International Duty: None
- Injury: OUT: M - Eduardo Sosa (right knee meniscectomy)
Referees: Alan Kelly (referee); Adam Wienckowski, Nick Uranga (assistant referees); Chris Penso (4th official); Mark Geiger (VAR)
How To Watch
Match date & time: September 1, 2018, 8 pm.
Venue: MAPFRE Stadium, Columbus, OH
Online streaming: Fox Sports GO
Local radio: WNYE 91.5 FM — English; WADO 1280 AM — Spanish.
This is low-key one of the best matchups in MLS. Columbus and New York City have met five times. Between them, they’ve scored 34 goals. That’s right: thirty-four. Neither the Pigeons nor the Goldfinches do dreary, goalless trudges to oblivion. Both teams are what you’d call ideological exercises in the art of soccer. Gregg Berhalter’s Crew play committed, attacking soccer with flair and intelligence. They are the American interpretation of what you get from Ajax and Barcelona — possession-oriented soccer with aggression and intent.
It goes beyond that, though. Since New York City joined MLS in 2015, they’ve been one of the Pigeons’ most resolute opponents. They’ve routinely proved vexing for New York City to engage. In the 2017 playoffs, they comprehensively routed New York City at home, before hanging on on the road at New York City to earn a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals.
Hanging over all this is the prospect of their potential move to Austin, TX, thanks to their craven owner, Anthony Precourt. Moving the Crew to Austin would be like moving the Green Bay Packers — a crime against good taste, and the very concepts of fandom and community. That last is something that MLS is bold enough to ostensibly honor with a star on its shield. Moving the Crew makes a mockery of that.
I should disclose: I grew up in a small Ohio town, about an hour away from Columbus. Nowadays, you can change the channel from NBC to FOX to ESPN, and watch England’s Southampton, Germany’s Mönchengladbach, and Italy’s Verona with a flick of the wrist. But as a kid, that was inconceivable to me. I didn’t have that. If I wanted to watch soccer, I had to cajole my mom to drive me to Ohio Stadium to see Doctor Khumalo, Brian McBride, Brian Maisonneuve, and Stern John. It’s not just that; MAPFRE Stadium, which New York City visit tonight, perhaps for the last time, is as close to a cathedral of American soccer as you’ll find. Only RFK Stadium, perhaps, comes close. It is where Dos a Cero took on all its mythic power.
Abandoning that simply because Precourt feels the douchetastic techbros that infest Austin’s SXSW and gave you such wonderful enterprises like Juicero don’t think owning a team in Columbus is “cool enough” is repulsive. You can’t manufacture cool, just like you can’t craft authenticity. But you can certainly strip it away. Columbus is as authentic as you can get in American soccer. If they move to Austin, and become Austin FC™, they’ll be just as cool and authentic as New Coke and Zubaz, and just as successful.
Save the Crew.
This post will update with highlights and information as we receive it.