NYCFC aims for the top of standings agaisnt Crew

Two down, one to go for New York City FC in a grueling stretch of three games in seven days against Eastern Conference opponents.

NYCFC has won the first two games, defeating the New York Red Bulls 1-0 on Sunday night before a second-half outburst lead to a 3-0 victory over the Montreal Impact on Wednesday night.

A win over Columbus Crew SC on Saturday night at Yankee Stadium would lift NYCFC into a tie atop the East and the Supporters' Shield standings with Atlanta United, which is home against Seattle on Sunday.

"It's important the work that the group is doing," defender Ronald Matarrita said. "Honestly, we feel like one of the strongest teams in the league. We've been working really hard towards that and little by little as the games go on you're starting to see the ideas coach has with us and we as a group have to go out and do it right on the field."

Matarrita, Jesus Medina and Jonathan Lewis scored in a 16-minute span in the second half as NYCFC (11-4-4) pulled away from an Impact team that came to the Bronx on a four-match winning streak.

That was despite missing attacking options David Villa, Ismael Tajouri-Shradi and Jo Inge Berget to injury.

"It wasn't easy for us because we played in three days two games," NYCFC coach Dome Torrent said. "But I'm impressed with the performance of our players because it seems our players are better physically than the Montreal players."

NYCFC has been virtually perfect at Yankee Stadium this year, winning nine of 10 games and having outscored the opposition 25-4.

"We showed today (it's not an issue) for us to play two games in three days," defender Anton Tinnerholm said. "So now there's a tough game on Saturday, but today we showed character and we showed we were a better team than them and we're not that team in the first half today.

"We said at halftime we needed to have a better tempo, a higher tempo and make it more difficult for them, and I think we showed it in the second half in how we scored the first goal."

Fourth in the Eastern Conference, Columbus (8-6-6) is coming off a 4-0 drubbing to the LA Galaxy last Saturday at StubHub Center. It was their third loss in the last four games with Crew SC failing to score in each of those defeats.

Columbus has scored 24 goals this season, which is only above D.C. United (23), Minnesota United FC (23), the Colorado Rapids (22) and Seattle Sounders FC (15) in the league. No doubt with that in mind, Crew SC acquired forward Patrick Mullins from D.C. United in exchange for $150,000 in Targeted Allocation Money.

Before spending the last three years in D.C., the 26-year-old forward spent two seasons with NYCFC, scoring six goals in 31 appearances.

"We've been tracking Patrick for probably the last year and a half and seeing how he was scoring goals, monitoring his performance," Columbus coach Gregg Berhalter said on a conference call Wednesday. "We knew we wanted to add some attacking depth at some point and we were patient in waiting for the right deal to get done."

Updated July 12, 2018