Earlier this year the New York Red Bulls and the Columbus Crew drew 1-1 at the Visit Tucson Sun Cup in preseason play. Both sides hold undefeated records ahead of their Group E matchup in the MLS is Back Tournament. Kickoff is set for 10:30 p.m. ET on Thursday.
Here are the Keys to the Game, presented by Honda:
The Dynamic Duo of Flo Valot and Kaku Keeps Growing
Both Kaku and Flo Valot have a goal apiece in the 2020 season, but what’s remarkable is that Valot got the assist in Kaku’s goal, and on Saturday night, Kaku returned the favor and got the assist in Valot’s goal.
The goal that turned out to be the winning goal in the Atlanta showdown, also turned out to be Valot’s first MLS goal since 2018.
After the game, Head Coach Chris Armas praised both playmakers and highlighted their passing ability and intelligence.
Keep Quiet the Crew's Tandem of Gyasi Zardes and Lucas Zelarayán
With three goals to his name, Gyasi Zardes has scored half of the Crew’s goals this season.
His most recent one came off a Lucas Zelarayán assist. Zelarayán, who arrived from Mexican club Tigres, has started his time with the Crew in great fashion by contributing two goals and two assists after three matches.
The Crew have tallied the most goals at the start of the 2020 season in the Eastern Conference, and Zardes and Zelarayán’s contributions are a big reason why.
Kyle Duncan Keeps Finding Ways to Contribute
Kyle Duncan netted the Red Bulls’ first goal of the season and grabbed two assists in the 2020 home opener against FC Cincinnati, but it’s worth highlighting that in his last two games against Real Salt Lake and Atlanta United, his defensive numbers have been noteworthy.
Against RSL in Sandy, Utah, Duncan finished the game with three aerial duels won, four tackles and two clearances.
On Saturday against Atlanta, the Red Bulls’ right-back won six aerial duels, got three interceptions and made nine clearances.