Major League Soccer

Crew-New York City FC Preview

Columbus Crew coach Caleb Porter believes his side are being unfairly criticized, as the MLS champions prepare to take on New York City FC.

The Crew have won just two of their last five games but in total have lost only once in 10 fixtures, while dealing with a list of notable absentees.

They go into Friday's meeting at the Yankee Stadium one place and one point above NYCFC in the Eastern Conference, but Porter says there is no doubt in his team.

"When you are the champion the last season, people look for holes in you," he said.

"Instead of talking about us being the best defensive team and the fact that we've lost one game in 10 and we've got five wins and four draws, instead of talking about that, they'll talk about why we're not scoring more goals.

"They always look for the negative and that's because when you're good, the tallest tree the wind blows the strongest against. So when you're the tallest tree, people try to chop you down and, yeah, I don't agree with it all."

NYCFC have won four of their last six games, though their last defeat did come in Columbus on July 18, with the Crew also triumph in a May 23 meeting.

Ronny Deila's team thrashed Orlando City 5-0 last time out, and the former Celtic boss is confident in NYCF's strength at home.

"The Yankee Stadium, it has to be a tough place to come and we have shown over and over again that we are hard to beat there," he said.

"It's very important now to start with the intensity we want to have through the game, put them under pressure so they have to make decisions in their own box as often as possible."

NYCFC - Valentin Castellanos

Valentin Castellanos scored his fifth goal of the season during NYCFC's 5-0 win over Orlando on Sunday, the third NYCFC player to hit that mark this term.

Columbus Crew - Lucas Zelarayan

Midfielder Lucas Zelarayan has scored three direct free-kick goals against NYCFC already this season. Indeed, he accounts for three of the Crew's four goals against NYCFC.

- Columbus has won its last three matches against New York City FC, including both meetings this season.

- NYCFC equaled the largest winning margin in team history last time out. NYCFC's only other five-goal win was a 5-0 home win over FC Cincinnati on April 24.

- Columbus won for just the second time in its last 20 away matches when it beat Atlanta United, 1-0, on Saturday (D9 L9). The Crew have won consecutive away matches just once since the start of the 2016 season, beating Cincinnati and Atlanta on the road in August-September 2019.

- NYCFC is the only team with three different players with at least five goals this season (Castellanos - 5, Ismael Tajouri-Shradi - 6, Jesus Medina - 7).

- Zelarayan is the first player since Opta began analyzing MLS matches in 2010 to score three direct free-kick goals against a team in a single season.

Updated July 29, 2021

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