It’s a case of Friday night under the lights for New York City FC this week as they take on Columbus Crew.
For this edition of 'The Away End' presented by Berkeley College & Rennert International, we spoke to Jordan Angeli, former pro-soccer player and now TV analyst for the Crew.
Hi Jordan, thanks so much for speaking with us. How long have you been covering the Crew?
Thanks for asking me to be a part of this! I joined the Crew in February of 2020 so I have been covering them for just about a year and a half.
What’s been your favorite moment covering the team?
It has to be being able to call MLS Cup from Historic Crew Stadium with two of my co-workers Chris Doran and Neil Sika. To be a part of such a historic year, with a monumental championship was a dream. To say I wasn’t emotional in the booth would be a lie - all that the club had been through, the challenges of 2020, and to still see this team band together and perform week in and week out was truly outstanding. That will be a day I will never forget.
The Crew are defending MLS Cup champions, how would you evaluate their 2021 season so far?
As the reigning champs, there are different elements you face that other teams don’t:
1. You add another competition in with Champions League to the beginning of the season.
2. You have a big target on your back as everyone wants to beat the champs.
I think the Crew has one of the best offseasons when it comes to adding quality additions to the team with Kevin Molino, Bradly Wright Phillips, Marlon Hairston, and Perry Kitchen to name a few, but were troubled with injuries for the first few months which left them with challenges in depth. Even with all of this, they still sit 5th in the Eastern Conference and have one of the toughest defenses to break down in MLS.
I think they have managed the first half of the season well and as they continue to get players back from injury and international duty, this team will continue to trend in the right direction.
Looking at our previous meetings the games have been heavily influenced by Lucas Zelarayán. What stands out most to you about him as a player?
There is nothing he can’t do. He is tough and isn’t afraid of a challenge or putting in some gritty defensive work while at the same time can show such patience and poise on the ball as he shoos off defenders with quick chops and nifty accelerations. Oh, and he’s pretty good at set-pieces huh?! He’s the complete package.
From a tactical standpoint, what strengths should Ronny Deila and his team be wary of heading into the game?
I’m not giving anything away here! But I will say, if you have watched the last two meetings between these two teams, you are well aware that you are in for a fun 90+ minutes. I am interested in how the teams adjust to the third venue they have played in against each other this season as they face off at Yankee Stadium.
Are there any weaknesses you think NYCFC can exploit?
That’s the best part of this game, there are always things that show up against an opponent that you can exploit. I am intrigued to see come Friday night which team adapts quicker and punishes the other for a so-called “weakness.”
If you were to identify the Crew's danger-man, who would that be?
I think City fans know this answer ;).
And finally, for any fans thinking of making the trip to Columbus in the future, are there any particular attractions you’d suggest they check out?
First off you should absolutely do it! Lower.com field is an experience in and of itself. Plus, on game day you can hit up some great restaurants, bars, and shops on High Street in Short North before walking the mile or so over to the game.