NYCFC set to battle Columbus Crew 

New York City Football Club welcomes Columbus Crew to Yankee Stadium on Saturday night.

Here’s the Keys to the Match, presented by Tri-State Ford…

Bright Lights, Big Game

To a man, the players and staff have all spoken about how much they’ve appreciated this run of consecutive home games in MLS.

The consistency, both on and off the field has helped the group immeasurably. One thing that is also consistent is the great atmosphere at Yankee Stadium. At times both players and staff have struggled to articulate just why Yankee Stadium has such a positive impact on the team’s results, but after seeing the atmosphere and many of the intangibles on show it becomes clear.

Saturday will see the team under the bright lights as the sun sets, and it’s with that special backdrop that the team have the chance to make more marvelous memories. They will be aiming to get back to winning ways after the draw against Sporting Kansas City and reaffirm their credentials as the best in the Eastern Conference. We can't wait to see you there.

Making A Case

At the start of last season, Ronny Deila stressed the need for his roster to have strength and depth in all areas.

The prime reasons for this were twofold. Firstly, it allowed the coach to have options when the rough and tumble of an MLS season took its toll on the team; be it injuries, suspensions, or fatigue. Secondly, while a player’s own drive and motivation can carry them far, the overall dynamic is improved when healthy competition among players defines who will take the starting spot.

The evidence of that presented itself Wednesday night when Deila made nine changes to the starting XI and still emerged comfortable 3-1 winners in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. Several of that group made a strong case to be named in the team to face Columbus this weekend, and the consequence of that will see a team against Columbus keen to impress.

NYCFC’s mentality has been central to their success under Deila, and if they win this weekend it will once again have played a large role in proceedings.

Change It Up?

Columbus Crew have enjoyed a solid start to the campaign under Caleb Porter and find themselves in the middle of the pack in the Eastern Conference.

On Saturday they took on the imposing task of New England Revolution, during which a tactical tweak from Bruce Arena saw the Revs turn a 1-0 deficit into a 2-1 win. Arena’s decision to switch to a back three helped turn the tide of the game, and in doing so, it posed an interesting debate for NYCFC and Ronny Deila.

“We know them quite well. At the same time they've changed a little bit," Deila said. "Now they play more 4-3-3. They can still play with a 4-4-2- and a 4-2-3-1 which they have played a little bit. But I know of course their style and they know ours. So I think it's like that with all the teams in the Eastern Conference. We know each other quite well and of course some new coaches come in and it's going to be a little bit different but it's two coaches that know each other quite well.”

Deila and his staff have folded in a tactical versatility to this team. As well as operating in a back four system, be it 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-3, they have also wanted a back three system as an option. We saw this at several points during last season, and following Thiago Martins arrival the ability to utilize this style has only increased.

Regardless of which approach NYCFC take on Saturday the possibilities at their disposal are likely to keep Columbus guessing. That uncertainty is helpful and will hamper any attempts to prepare for Saturday’s game.