Preview: Columbus isn’t a Trap, It’s a Proving Ground

image from NYCFC

New York City FC travel to MAPFRE Stadium on Saturday night in their last game on a four game road trip to play the Columbus Crew. This trip has been quite productive, securing seven out of nine points with a chance to make it an impressive 10 with a win. Many have pointed to Columbus’ run of form and have dubbed this game a trap for Dome Torrent’s team. However, this is more of a proving ground game that could show exactly where NYCFC is in 2019 and where their ceiling could be heading into the summer.

City have one of the most dominant road records in the league, going 3-1-3 away from Yankee Stadium. The only other team that matches is that is LAFC who currently lead the combined standings. City’s ability to take points on the road is particularly impressive given their shaky start to the campaign with limited pieces on offense to grab points. The defense and goalkeeping is to be commended along with a newfound formation that has put City’s brightest young players such as James Sands in the proper positions to make them productive.

Columbus is trailing in the opposite direction with just one win in their last nine games. They started the season off with a bang with four wins in their first six games but have since faltered. Many point to this not being Caleb Porter’s first choice team with many of the players being holdovers from Gregg Berhalter’s previous reign. They have not played his style of possession soccer and have suffered for it of late. They have been unable to keep a clean sheet since April 6th and been shut out six times already in 2019.

The Crew may have the desire to turn things around, especially in front of their home fans, but City has more than enough to quell that flame and continue their streak. Unlike Chicago and Montreal, Columbus does not represent the type of team that should give NYC trouble. They are below the playoff line and trending downward. City are fit with Alexandru Mitrita having returned to the line-up and a less than strenuous schedule. A loss at this point would throw their recent success into question and perhaps provide evidence that what was thought to be the solution to the team’s inconsistency is a fallacy.

Locking in the win would bring New York City back to Yankee Stadium for an extended period with a chance to make a run at the top of the table. Now is when the team must prove if they are the real deal or if there is still much more work to be done to make them the contender the city wishes they could be.