The Crew were held to a 0-0 draw at home to Montreal last week. In truth, it was a very poor game of football with very few chances at both ends. This wasn’t too much of a surprise because both sides missed their best creative players. Key man Federico Higuain is out injured for over a month and without him the Crew definitely lack something in the final third. At least first choice striker Ola Kamara is back fit and should be starting tonight. The last time he featured in a home match Kamara scored a hat trick. His return will allow Ethan Finlay back into his favoured position on the right wing. The Crew will be missing their best defender Gaston Sauro who is out of action for the rest of the season due to an ACL. Columbus have been a shadow of what they were last season but have only lost one match here at Mapfre Stadium, a place where they’ve always been pretty strong.
Red Bulls preview
The only confirmed injuries for the visitors are to defenders Kemar Lawrence and Damien Perrinelle. Centre back Ronald Zubar is rated doubtful, whilst there’s a chance Aurelien Collin could be suspended pending an appeal. The Red Bulls played on Wednesday night at RSL and succumbed late, losing 1-2. But a number of players were bench rested or given a complete breather for that fixture. Clearly, they are targeting this match with Columbus as a higher priority. I don’t think conditioning or fatigue can be considered as a potential factor here apart from travelling and being exposed to altitude. The Bulls had won four in a row prior to the midweek loss but it’s worth remembering they’ve lost a whopping 6/8 road matches so far this season. The defence might have kept a fair few recent clean sheets but performance wise has looked vulnerable.
This is a repeat of last season’s Eastern Conference playoff semi final, a tie which the Crew won on aggregate. Somehow, they managed to win the home leg 2-0 last season despite the Red Bulls having numerous opportunities. I can see why the visitors are more focused on this game and rested guys midweek, revenge is something they’ll be after! This is quite a difficult match to call because of Columbus’ unpredictability. One week they are involved in 4-3 wins and 4-4 draw, the next they have a couple of 0-0s. Anything is possible with them it seems. If this match was played in New York then I’d fancy the Red Bulls, but on the road after a midweek trip to Real Salt Lake is hardly ideal preparation. I think both teams will be very focused and up for this game, maybe could cancel each other out with a draw.
I don’t personally see value in any lines or bets. If the over line was more generous then I might be tempted, but right now it’s hovering between 2.75 and 3.0, which is simply too high. Both teams have a strong reputation for high scoring matches but that might be slightly false here. The Crew will definitely lack penetration without Higuain’s presence and looked so toothless last week. Meanwhile, the Red Bulls have been keeping more clean sheets than some might expect recently. I don’t think either team will want to lose, which gives the possibility of a low scoring affair. On the other hand, one early goal and this fixture could totally erupt! The Crew are a -0.25 favourite on the asian lines and that’s about fair. I personally see too many question marks surrounding this game, so I’m willing to leave it alone. This could be a good match to watch for a potential in-running bet, but beforehand my advice is to swerve.
Recommended bet: None