The postseason will begin for Columbus Crew when they face Atlanta United in front of a home crowd on Wednesday (7.30pm ET). The hosts will be looking to earn an advantage ahead of the away-leg but can they do it? Or will the visitors cause an upset? This preview, with betting predictions and picks, aims to find out.
Thanks to a strong campaign, Columbus Crew sailed into the playoffs without any fuss. They always looked like making it and thanks to ending the season in sturdy fashion, their position in the postseason was secured from a long way out. The Crew are now unbeaten in six games, three of which they have won. They ended the regular season with a 2-1 win over CF Montreal, which should have boosted their confidence levels ahead of this last-16 playoff first leg.
As for the visitors, Atlanta Utd, they too made the postseason with a degree of comfort, finishing sixth in the Eastern Conference, which meant that they skipped the first playoff round. That means that like the hosts, they come into this match well rested and prepared. However, in terms of form, though they are unbeaten in two, the Five Stripes don’t have the same level of momentum behind them as the hosts. ATLUTD have failed to win their last three, while they have now won just one of their last five.
Hosts Crew best at home
For the Crew, Lower .com Field is where they mean business. They come into this game having won four of their last five MLS fixtures in front of their own fans, scoring an impressive total of 11 goals, conceding only two in the process. They have also scored at least two goals in four of those five. Such numbers point towards a team that knows how to get the job done on home soil. What is more, this is a team that has not lost a domestic fixture at home since going down by two goals to one against Inter Miami back in April. During that time, they have won nine and tied three, keeping an impressive five clean sheets in the process.
Five Stripes struggling to win away
The Five Stripes have not thrived away from home of late. In fact, it has been quite the opposite for Gonzalo Pineda’s men, who are now without a road win in four. The saving grace for them is that they are fighters. They have been finding it somewhat difficult to leave the field with all three points when not surrounded by the comforting cheers of a home crowd. They have developed a knack of hanging in there and snatching results, as they have lost just one of their last five road games.
Another positive is that they can score goals on the road, a trait that is always handy when it comes to the cut and thrust of playoff soccer. Wednesday’s visitors have scored at least two goals in three of their last four away games and they have scored against top teams such as Cincinnati and the Philadelphia Union too.
More of the same for Columbus Crew
Ahead of this game, the hosts will be hoping for an outcome that matches what happened when the pair met at this venue during the regular season in March. On that occasion, the Crew enjoyed themselves massively, winning by six goals to one. The Five Stripes avoided a second embarrassment when the pair later drew 1-1 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
One way or another, goals are usually on the cards when this pair meets here. Not only did seven goals go in when they clashed in Columbus earlier in the campaign, but each of the last five renewals of this fixture (at this venue) have contained three or more goals. Four of those five games have contained at least four goals, with three of them containing five or more.
Hosts the most but visitors can score
In the lines with the recommended sports betting sites for American bettors, ‘Columbus Crew to Win & Both Teams to Score’ looks to be the soundest approach here. We know that the visitors have the offensive tools to make headway in this fixture and they are likely to search for a goal, but the Crew simply have too much firepower, especially at home.
With someone like Georgios Giakoumakis, who notched 17 goals during the regular season, leading their line, the Five Stripes will always carry a sizable attacking threat, especially with the creativity that the dynamic and exciting Thiago Almada brings. However, they are still not as potent as the Crew at home, while they are not as strong at the back either, which is what could be their downfall here.
The pair met just three weeks ago, so there’s some really relevant recent form to draw upon. In Atlanta, they drew 1-1, but it was the Crew who were in control and it was they who created considerably more than their hosts, posting 2.12 xG to Atlanta’s 1.08. Now back at home, they ought to outscore the Five Stripes.
This should be a really good playoffs’ game between two soccer teams that can certainly produce the goods offensively, but the hosts simply look stronger. They have won many more games at home than the visitors have on the road, while during the regular season, they scored, on average, one goal more per home game than Wednesday’s visitors did on the road. Therein lies the difference. The visitors can leave their mark in Columbus, as they did earlier in the season, but don’t be surprised if they do so whilst coming up short overall. So for the betting predictions and picks for this preview, this is our suggestion: