Preview: New York City FC vs. Columbus Crew – prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Saturday’s Major League Soccer clash between New York City FC and Columbus Crew, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

On their longest winless run in MLS regular-season play since 2015, New York City FC can stop the bleeding this Saturday with a matinee affair at Yankee Stadium versus the Columbus Crew.

The Pigeons drew Real Salt Lake 0-0 last weekend, having now gone eight matches without a victory in this competition, while the Crew have won three in a row, as a stunning strike from their own half gave them a 2-1 win over the Chicago Fire.

Match preview

New York City FC forward Talles Magno (43) celebrates with New York City FC midfielder Gabriel Pereira (11) on April 9, 2023© Reuters

Over seven weeks since they last tasted victory in MLS, the Boys in Blue have at least picked up some positive results of late, earning points in back-to-back domestic fixtures for the first time since April.

After its second successive 0-0 draw last weekend, head coach Nick Cushing admitted that we are likely to see many new faces on this roster when the summer transfer window opens, but for now, the ex-Manchester City women’s boss will have to make do with the squad he has.

At the moment, this group have had their share of control in matches and created opportunities but are making poor decisions in the attacking third, while looking somewhat hesitant in that area of the field.

NYCFC find themselves 13th in the Eastern Conference, four points below the playoff line, having picked up a mere 18 points thus far, their second-worst total after 17 encounters, with just one more point than they had accumulated at this same stage of its inaugural campaign in 2015.

Should they fail to win their next two contests, it would equal a club record for the longest winless run in the regular season, a mark which was also initially set in in 2015.

New York lost their opening fixture versus the Crew at Yankee Stadium, 2-1 in 2015, but since then, they have a 100% record against Columbus in all regular season and playoff games in the Bronx, most recently capturing a 2-0 triumph in May 2022.

Columbus Crew midfielder Aidan Morris (8) celebrates his goal with his teammates on April 2, 2023© Reuters

Columbus have conceded their share of late goals this year, so perhaps it is only fitting that they won in that same dramatic fashion last week.

Manager Wilfried Nancy could only smile at the brilliance of his number 10, Lucas Zelarayan, whose long-range winner was measured to be 60.98 yards away, the third-longest MLS goal since 2010, but well beyond the previous longest stoppage-time winner by Didier Drogba, who scored for the Montreal Impact from 44.46 yards out to defeat the Los Angeles Galaxy in 2016.

Unlike in past seasons, though, Zelarayan is not the only Crew player who has been magical for them in 2023 as Columbus, along with Atlanta United, are the joint-highest scoring team in the league (35 goals), with 13 different individuals netting at least once for them in the regular season.

They have already posted two victories away from home in 2023, just one shy of their mark from last year and with half of the season still to be played.

Columbus have work to do when it comes to defending, conceding 25 goals so far, having an especially tough time backpedalling and struggling to make the right decisions when the opposition come at them.

Like New York, they employ a possession-based approach, and are especially dangerous down the channels, while doing a splendid job at finding space in behind opposing full-backs most of the season.

New York City FC Major League Soccer form:

Columbus Crew Major League Soccer form:

Columbus Crew form (all competitions):

Team News

New York City FC head coach Nick Cushing before the game against the Chicago Fire at Soldier Field on March 4, 2023© Reuters

Thiago Martins will not be available for NYCFC this weekend as he is still recovering from knee surgery, Braian Cufre had his suspension chalked off and got the start against RSL, Justin Haak has started in central defence in their previous two fixtures and James Sands was called up to the US national team for the international window, with Maxime Chanot selected for the Luxembourg squad.

Luis Barraza has stopped the last six shots fired his way, posting consecutive clean sheets, while Cufre had the only strike in their previous match played at Yankee Stadium, when Brandon Vazquez, Luciano Acosta and Alvaro Barreal found the back of the net for FC Cincinnati in a 3-1 win for the visitors.

Talles Magno notched the winner the last time they faced the Crew at Yankee Stadium, with the other strike on that occasion coming courtesy of Taty Castellanos, with former keeper Sean Johnson collecting a clean sheet.

Gustavo Vallecilla missed the previous encounter for Columbus because of a sore thigh, Will Sands has a sprained knee and Milos Degenek continues to recover from an ankle injury.

Eloy Room was selected to represent Curacao for the upcoming international window, Zelarayan was called-up to the Armenian team and Aidan Morris was added to the United States squad.

Cucho Hernandez has a goal in three straight encounters, and he scored once in their earlier meeting with New York this season when Zelarayan notched a brace and Luis Diaz had a pair of assists as they claimed a 3-2 victory, while Malte Amundsen has two goals this season, one more than in his previous two campaigns combined at NYCFC.

New York City FC possible starting lineup:
Barraza; Gray, Alfaro, Haak, O’Toole; Parks; Ilenic, Morales, Rodriguez, Cufre; Pereira

Columbus Crew possible starting lineup:
Schulte; Zawadzki, Moreira, Amundsen; Matan, Nagbe, Parente, Yeboah; Ramirez, Diaz; Hernandez

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We say: New York City FC 2-1 Columbus Crew

It has been a trying time for the Pigeons, but they should have their share of opportunities to score this weekend against a side who are a little overzealous along the back end, and after a pair of solid defensive outings themselves, things seem to be lined up for NYCFC to collect three points at long last.

How to watch

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For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.

Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at are predicting over 2.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Over 2.5:data

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