Columbus hosting New York Red Bulls in first-place battle

League: MLS

Posted on: 16 Mar, 2024 at 12:22 AM

Credit: Adam Cairns-USA TODAY Sports

Two of the five teams tied for first place in the Eastern Conference square off on Saturday night when the New York Red Bulls visit Columbus to take on the reigning MLS Cup champion Crew.

Both teams enter the weekend with 2-0-1 records and seven points, which puts them in a tie for first with Inter Miami, Montreal and Toronto.

It will be the fifth game in 15 days for Columbus, which sandwiched two midweek CONCACAF Champions League matchups with the Houston Dynamo into their schedule. The Crew, who tied the Dynamo, 1-1, on Tuesday in the second leg of the Round of 16 contest, advanced to the quarterfinals with a 2-1 series win on aggregate.

"I'm really pleased because we controlled the game," Columbus coach Wilfried Nancy said, according to the Columbus Dispatch. "I really enjoyed seeing my team control the game against a team like Houston. They like to combine, they like to do short passes and to get in behind. ... That's why I'm pleased, the way we did it because it's not easy to play against them."

Cucho Hernandez scored for the Crew in the 40th minute, his third goal in five games in MLS and Champions Cup action in 2024.

New York brings a six-game regular-season road unbeaten streak (4-0-2) into the match. The Red Bulls' last MLS regular-season road loss came on Sept. 3 against Philadelphia, 4-1.

New York opened the season with a 0-0 draw at Nashville and followed that with a 2-1 victory at Houston. The squad comes in off a 2-1 win over visiting FC Dallas last Saturday at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J.

Midfielder Emil Forsberg scored on a penalty kick and also assisted on Lewis Morgan's game-winning goal against Dallas. It was the first MLS goal for Forsberg, a 32-year-old Swedish international player who signed a three-year designated player contract in December after starring for sister club RB Leipzig in the Bundesliga.

"I think I saved it for home, it's better to score in front of our fans," Forsberg said. "It felt good, an amazing feeling, to score the first goal. ... I'm happy we got the win, undefeated so far, and I think we're taking steps every day."

Morgan scored for the second straight game. Both of his goals this season are game-winners.

--Field Level Media