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NYCFC visit Columbus looking for turning point

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New York City FC is looking forward to a rematch against the host Columbus Crew on Saturday by looking back to a low point of the season.

It was on May 15 that NYCFC (5-4-2, 17 points) seemingly had the match in control until the visiting Crew used free kick goals by Lucas Zelarayan in the 82nd and 95th minutes for a stunning 2-1 victory.

“I have big respect for Columbus. That’s why they are champion,” New York City coach Ronny Deila said. “At the same time, the latest game against them we had a lot of chances and we should have more points than we have gotten.

“Hopefully, we can get three points and take back some of the things that happened in May because that was a tough defeat for us.”

The Crew (4-3-5, 17 points), who could be missing as many as 10 players due to international call-ups for the CONCACAF Gold Cup and injuries, have a loss followed by three ties in their past four matches.

Still, coach Caleb Porter says he is proud of his team’s resiliency.

Columbus rallied twice to tie New England 2-2 in the first match at the Crew’s Field on July 3, then became the first team in MLS history to overcome a two-goal deficit on the road for a result while playing with 10 men in the 2-2 draw at FC Cincinnati on July 9.

“What I love is the mentality to come back twice in a row, which isn’t easy,” Porter said. “It says a lot about our group.

“I think our unity in our locker room and our spirit is better because of the last game, and that never hurts. It’s a real positive. We’re going to need that tough mentality and resiliency more than ever.”

Porter also went on to describe Zelarayan as “the best attacking player in the league.” The 29-year-old Argentine has four goals and an assist in his 10 starts this season, including one of each in the July 9 draw at Cincinnati.

Crew defender Harrison Afful will serve a red-card suspension, and NYC 19-year-old designated player Talles Magno is out with a knee injury.

–Field Level Media

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