Columbus Crew host New England Revolution in the Eastern Conference final on Sunday (8 PM kick-off, UK time) for a place in next week’s MLS Cup final.
After finishing third in the East during the regular season, the Crew beat the New York Red Bulls 3-2 in the first round of the MLS Cup Playoffs before seeing off expansion side Nashville SC 2-0 to reach this stage.
Caleb Porter’s side were one of the favourites heading into the post-season and with the likes of Lucas Zelarayan and Gyasi Zardes hitting top form, few would be surprised if they went all the way from here.
New England, meanwhile, could only manage an eighth-place finish during the regular season, meaning they had to contest a play-in round with Montreal Impact, beating the Canadian side 2-1.
Bruce Arena has since guided the Revs to impressive victories over Supporters’ Shield winners Philadelphia Union and Orlando City. The Boston side were widely seen to be just ‘making up the numbers’ in the 2020 Playoffs but have proved they are worthy contenders for the MLS Cup title.
Where to watch Columbus Crew vs New England Revolution on TV:
- UK: Free Sports
- US: ESPN 3
Where to live stream Columbus Crew vs New England Revolution:
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*Geo restrictions apply, 18+ only, must have a funded account, BeGambleAware. All odds and offers within this article are accurate at the time of writing (06/12/2020, 10:45)
Columbus Crew & New England Revolution’s previous line-ups:
- Columbus Crew (vs their previous opponents): Tarbell; Afful, Mensah, Williams, Valenzuela; Nagbe, Artur; Diaz, Zelarayan, Santos; Zardes.
- New England Revolution (vs Orlando City): Rowe; Smith, Carlos, Jansson, Miller; Urso, Rosell; Mueller, Pereyra, Nani; Dike.
Long-term absentee Vito Wormgoor remains sidelined for Columbus. Fatai Alashe, Eloy Room and Derrick Etienne Jr are all doubtful.
Cristian Penilla and Luis Caicedo are still out with metatarsal and knee injuries, respectively, but Alexander Buttner is back in training.
Players to watch:
Columbus Crew: With Sunday’s match having so much on the line, it could be a much tighter affair than we’ve become accustomed to during these Playoffs. Moments of magic from playmakers often settle these close-run matches and they don’t come much better in MLS than Lucas Zelarayan. Although the Argentine only has two assists, he is at the centre of everything the Crew do well, pulling the strings with metronomic passing, creating space for the likes of Zardes and Pedro Santos, and chipping in with six goals himself across all competitions. So good has Zelarayan been, in fact, that he was recently named MLS Newcomer of the Year for 2020. He’s due a big Playoff moment and this would be the perfect time to deliver it.
New England Revolution: Part of why so many slept on the Revs heading into these Playoffs is that they simply hadn’t had a consistent run where all three of their Designated Players were fit at once. Well, as the post-season came about, Gustavo Bou, Adam Buksa and, most importantly, Carles Gil have all hit form and fitness, notching a combined six goals and four assists so far. Gil has two of those goals and three assists on his own and has arguably played the biggest role of all in getting the Revs this far. Now fully fit, the Spaniard (2019’s MLS Newcomer of the Year) has been demonstrating his incredible passing range, dynamic dribbling and ice-cool finishing throughout these Playoffs. Columbus would do well not to underestimate Gil and his teammates like Montreal, Philadelphia and Orlando before them.
Scoreline prediction: Columbus Crew 3-2 New England Revolution (AET)
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