The first thing you have to take into account when New York City FC squares off against Columbus Crew SC is the simple fact that NYCFC is better, player to player. Jonathan Mensah played a damned solid game last Saturday and, within the first half at least, he was Columbus’ one, and nearly only, key player. NYCFC’s Maxime Chanot, meanwhile, played imperious throughout. Hell, Alexander Ring stopped at least three attacks by lunging his foot at the ball and gaining position; there’s a movie analogy for this and I’m loudly dying inside right now because I can’t dredge it up. Honestly, NYCFC made the defensive plays look so easy that it hardly mattered they (mostly) ran out of ideas on the attacking side by game’s end.
Columbus, meanwhile, held fast to one burning idea in the first half: do not allow a goal, even if it means playing Eduardo Sosa as a defensive forward midfielder (no typo). NYC responded by putting up most of their chances (shots turned out to be generous) during that same half; they had a 10-plus-shot-to-dick advantage, a 70/30 possession edge as late as the 55th minute, and the one goal they’d need to put away the game (sneaky little shit of a goal too). The game ended at a sleepy 1-0.
The Crew came out to play in the second half and it showed; maybe it only took trotting out one of their real regulars - Pedro Santos, the inheritor of the injured Federico Higuain’s duties. They created a couple chances, they pressed a little, and, in general, they stymied NYCFC. And that’s the other key detail: Columbus sacrificed this result to rest key players – e.g., they didn’t start Santos and neither Wil Trapp nor Gyasi Zardes played at all (take it from a Portland fan; starting David “Fucking” Guzman is pure desperation). Crew SC kept its powder dry for Sunday, so 1) don’t expect them to bunker for the first half against FC Cincinnati, 2) they clearly thought they had a better chance to get three points out of the Queen City, 3) they’re totally fucking coming for you like a shitty Liam Neeson vehicle.
With that said, here’s how Columbus is, or has been (that’s “bean,” the English pronunciation) over its last 10 games: