(Harrison Afful of the Columbus Crew celebrates his goal – USA Today Sports)
It was a tough Saturday night for the local soccer teams, as New York City Football Club suffered a 2-1 loss in Columbus, while the Red Bulls were shutout in Montreal, 3-0.
The Red Bulls clinched a playoff spot by virtue of New England tying Portland. They remain in first place with 55 points and a record of 17-4-7, but second-place Atlanta United (54 points, 16-6-4) plays at DC United on Sunday night.
NYCFC remains in third place with 48 points and a record of 14-6-7, five points ahead of Columbus, who improved to 12-7-8, with 43 points.
In Columbus, after a scoreless first half, NYCFC got on the board first, as Ismael Tajouri-Shradi, on a feed from Anton Tinnerholm, gave them the lead in the 53rd minute.
The Crew responded shortly after with two goals in two minutes, as Harrison Afful scored in the 61st, followed by Justin Meram, on a feed from Pedro Santos, scoring in the 63rd.
NYCFC Head Coach Domènec Torrent saidof the match, “It is very similar to the first game against Columbus [Crew SC] in Yankee Stadium. We were lucky [there]. Maybe in the second half we played well in Yankee Stadium, but here I was happy judging the first 30 minutes but after that we lost the game, we lost control. We played with a 4-3-3 with three players in the middle, but after that we played the last 15 minutes of the first half with just [Alexander] Ring in the middle. [Alexander] Ring was alone and Maxi [Moralez] played like a striker. At that moment we started to have a problem. In the second half, our intention was to defend in a 4-5-1 but we had to press. Our team plays different when we are [at home] and I don’t know the reason why, I want to find the solution because we don’t play in the same way [at home] and when we play away. I am the coach and I take the responsibility to find a solution.”
The Red Bulls suffered their toughest loss in quite a while. For the first time in 42 matches across all competitions, they lost by more than one goal in a match since September 30, 2017 against Toronto, 4-2.
Montreal got goals from Rod Fanni in the 30th minute, Bacary Sagna in the 38th, and Ignacio Piatti in the 93rd.