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Columbus Crew at NYCFC Betting Preview
The Columbus Crew picked up another win last week thanks to a late goal off a free-kick, and now they head to Yankee Stadium for a showdown against NYCFC. The Crew haven’t lost since June 23 with four draws and two wins in their last six matches. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. ET at Yankee Stadium.
Columbus beat NYCFC 2-1 just two weeks ago with goals from Lucas Zelarayan and Darlington Nagbe. They also beat the Pigeons 2-1 on May 22 as Lucas Zelarayan netted a pair of goals on free kicks.
Zelarayan Leads the Way
Striker Gyasi Zardes will miss another game after he scored in the Gold Cup semifinals Thursday night for the US Men’s National Team. Midfielder Liam Fraser is still gone as well after playing for Canada in the Gold Cup, falling in Thursday’s semifinal to Mexico.
Zelarayan has been tremendous all season for the Crew. He leads the team with five goals and also has an assist. Four of his goals have come on free kicks, and the Crew scored on a free kick last weekend for the 1-0 win in Atlanta. That goal came on a header from captain Jonathan Mensah.
Keeper Eloy Room missed a couple of games getting ready for the Gold Cup before Curacao had to withdraw with COVID complications. He’s been back for the last two and hasn’t allowed a goal.
Nagbe has had success against NYCFC, and he was the Man of the Match on July 17. On the season, he has the most minutes on the team, just ahead of midfielder Pedro Santos. Santos leads the Crew with three assists, and they are the only two players to start every MLS game for Columbus in 2021.
Nagbe and Zelarayan will be key on Friday as the Yankee Stadium field is narrower by five yards than most MLS fields. Ball control and passing will be key, and the Crew need to do better controlling the midfield, and the transition game than Orlando City did last week at NYCFC. The Lions turned the ball over early and often, and the hosts punished them with a 5- 0 win.
Pigeons Flying High
Thanks to that 5-0 win last week, NYCFC leads the MLS with a +11 goal differential. They can leapfrog the Crew in the standings with a win on Friday with their third straight home game.
NYCFC is led in scoring by Jesus Medina, who scored against the Crew earlier this season. He has seven goals in 14 games, one more than Ismael Tajour-Shahadi. Valentin Castellanos has five goals and four assists, tied for the team lead in helpers with Maxi Moralez. NYCFC has spread out the scoring on the season with eight goal scorers.
Sean Johnson has started 10 of 14 games in goal but is gone at the Gold Cup, as is key defender James Sands. In the last four games, Luis Barraza has allowed four goals total and posted two clean sheets while filling in. The Pigeons have two wins and two losses in those games, with both wins coming at home and both losses on the road.
Crew ML +525. -1.5 (+230)
NYCFC ML -195. -1.5 (+135)
Total Goals 2.5. O -150. U +125
First to score: Crew +205. NYCFC -245. No Goals +950
It is rather surprising to see the defending champions as such underdogs even without Zardes. Columbus already owns a pair of wins against NYCFC this season, and Zelarayan and Nagbe seem to have their number. It wouldn’t be shocking at all to see the Crew leave Yankee Stadium with at least a draw.
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