CREW (5-9-1) VS. NYCFC (4-1-7)
7:30 p.m. ET; TSN, ESPN+, ST-OH, YES
The Columbus Crew knew standout goalkeeper Zack Steffen would be leaving for good following Saturday’s upcoming home match against New York City FC.
However, they weren’t counting on the loss of star midfielder Federico Higuain as well, but the club announced Friday that the Crew’s all-time assist leader will undergo anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction and be out for the remainder of the season. He sustained the right knee injury against Colorado last week.
Higuain, 34, has one goal and five assists in 14 matches this season and 55 goals and 63 assists in 193 career games for the Crew (5-9-1, 16 points).
The Crew have lost three straight and eight of nine and reside in ninth place in the Eastern Conference. The upside: They are still within reach of sixth-place NYC (4-1-7, 19 points).
“It is a six-point swing,” Crew coach Caleb Porter said. “They have 19 points. We are on 16. So, we can literally go level with them and be above the playoff line.”
New York City has four wins and four draws in its past eight matches for the longest active unbeaten streak in MLS. NYCFC is one of two teams with a single loss, the other being Supporters Shield leader Los Angeles FC.
Nonetheless, New York coach Domenec Torrent is wary of the Crew despite its recent form.
“Everybody knows Columbus is a good team,” he said. “They have some problems now because some players are injured but we will make a mistake if we think Columbus is an easy game.”
Steffen, 24, departs after the NYC match to play for the U.S. National Team in the CONCACAF Gold Cup. Later in June, he joins Manchester City of England’s Premier League after agreeing to a transfer before the 2019 season. Part of the stipulation was that last year’s MLS Goalkeeper of the Year and 2018 U.S. Soccer Male Athlete of the Year spend the first portion of this year with Columbus.
–Field Level Media