Columbus eliminates NYCFC at Yankee Stadium – MASSIVE REPORT

The Columbus Crew returned to winning ways Friday night, defeating a red-hot NYCFC team that had won its last five games. Despite being down by a man, NYCFC found the first goal late in the first half. Columbus wouldn’t stay behind for long, however, coming back with three straight goals to take a comfortable lead. New York City would add another goal later in the match, but the Black & Gold managed to hold on to get all three points. The win extended the Crew’s MLS winning streak to four games.

It was a back-and-forth game for Columbus. The Black & Gold fought back from being down a goal, but allowed NYCFC back into the game with a late goal to put them within striking distance. Let’s dive into the tactics of this roller coaster game.

Playing style before NYCFC red card

For the first 39 minutes of the game, the Crew played a different style than the other 51 minutes of the game. When Mitja Ilenič was sent off six minutes before halftime, Columbus tweaked its tactics and style of play to get to NYCFC more effectively.

But before that, the Black & Gold lined up as they usually do. They played in a back three/five defensive set, with wingers who will fly around the pitch in attack. Wilfried Nancy always opted for two defensive midfielders, but chose to start Sean Zawadzki in place of Aidan Morris, who would soon be on his way to Europe. Up top, Cucho Hernandez partnered Diego Rossi and Christian Ramirez in the attacking trident.

The Crew didn’t change much from their usual game plan for NYCFC, but there were some changes. Playing on a narrow field and at Yankee Stadium, Columbus had to adapt depending on the narrowness of the field. They couldn’t stretch New York City from side to side like they usually did because of the width, so they had to take a different approach.

This did not deter Nancy from playing with wingers. This simply meant that they would have to play a more interior role than they are used to. Mo Farsi and Max Arfsten tried to hug the sideline as much as they could, but sometimes had to run inside the front three because that’s where the space was.

One way the Black & Gold tried to use the limited spacing they had was to push Farsi high into a winger role on offense. Zawadzki would slide to the right as a pivot, while Cheberko would also step into that space. Nagbe remained in the center as a non-loner. 6, with Rossi dropping into the midfield pockets behind the lone central midfielder.

One thing that became more evident in this match was how often Rossi was dropping in midfield. He was always part of that fluid trio, but sometimes he played more like a no. 10. This gave the wingers more room on the outside because Ramirez and Hernandez could pinch more inside.

Rossi’s arrival in midfield also showed how the Crew could adapt to different playing conditions. The narrowness of Yankee Stadium made it difficult for Columbus to do what he usually does; build the sides by creating overloads. Now their focus has shifted to building up the middle so they can suck up the defense, then to the wings and forwards.

In the first 39 minutes, the Black & Gold generated big chances and had golden chances to score, but it wasn’t until NYCFC was down a man that they found the back of the net .

Style of play after red card and NYCFC goal

The Crew got a huge reprieve just before halftime when Ilenič was sent off for denying a scoring chance. A few minutes later, however, Columbus had a one-goal lead, despite being a man ahead. This quick change of having a man advantage and scoring a goal prompted Nancy to change some things to spark a comeback.

The first thing the Black & Gold did was obvious: they decided to commit more players to the attack. Instead of just one outside central defender, both central defenders now joined the midfield alongside Zawadzki and Nagbe. To provide some defensive stability, one defensive midfielder often remained deeper than the other.

This move to a 1-4-5 put immense pressure on NYCFC’s back line. However, in typical Crew fashion, he was adaptable. With a goal down, Columbus had six to seven players in or around their opponent’s penalty area. They tried to trap them in the 1-4-5 until the goals arrived, which they eventually did.

After the two quick goals found the net in the space of five minutes, the Black & Gold moved to a 2-3-5. Cheberko has now dropped back alongside Camacho in a full-time defensive role, while Zawadzki has taken his place on the right. Nagbe remained in the center and Amundsen moved up alongside him on the left. Again, it’s Nancy who adapts to the moment of the game. He doesn’t take his foot off the gas, but he redistributes manpower to the areas they need at that moment.

The 2-3-5 could also become a 2-3-1-4 with Rossi as the only number. 10. This allowed the midfielders to play through and around him as the focal point and build through the middle.

Towards the end of the match, the Crew started to get excited. After NYCFC’s second goal, they began playing almost entirely on the counterattack. New York’s second goal seemed to simply be the result of Columbus playing a high line, but after that they shut it down defensively.

It was a very good result against a hot home team, so Nancy and the Black & Gold will be happy. They will now focus on an Inter Miami without Lionel Messi on Wednesday.

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