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New York City FC are up in the Bronx this weekend as they face Columbus Crew at Yankee Stadium.

For this edition of 'The Away End' presented by Berkeley College & Rennert International, we spoke to writer for A Massive Report, Thomas Costello.

Hi Thomas, thanks so much for joining us. How long have you been covering The Crew?

I’ve covered the Crew since 2019, and with Massive Report since 2020. I’ve watched the Crew since 2014.

What has been your highlight during that time?

It’s a tough choice between the Crew being saved in 2018 and being in Historic Crew Stadium for the 3-0 MLS Cup victory over the Seattle Sounders. I’ll pick the MLS Cup because trophies are fun.

How would you evaluate the team's start to the season?

The Black & Gold’s 2022 season is a mixed bag, really. It began on a high note, scoring nine goals in their first three matches, but an injury to midfielder Lucas Zelarayán, and his return before fully healthy, put Columbus in a spot where they lost three in a row without scoring a goal.

In those three matches, it wasn’t poor play from the Crew that put them in the loss column but opponents exploiting mistakes. Columbus put themselves into great positions to score but lacked confidence to finish the job.

Zelarayán sat for a match, the Crew shifted their formation and began wholesale tactical changes to adapt to their opponents. There are always tweaks each match, but instead of going toe-to-toe with an opponent and trying to make them adjust, head coach Caleb Porter’s sat back in some matches and made opponents come at the Crew instead of the other way around.

Columbus is in a three-match undefeated streak, but only one is a win. The Black & Gold are in limbo up at the striker position after trading Gyasi Zardes to Colorado, in April. Even so, it appears that the changes are starting to work and Columbus is going to look different until they can bring in reinforcements.

Who would you predict as the team's dangerman heading into the game?

The easy pick would be Zelarayán, who famously scored two freekick goals against NYCFC last year at Yankee Stadium. He’s now fit and expected to start on the weekend, barring any setbacks.

I’m going to go a different route though and select winger Derrick Etienne Jr. Etienne has three goals and four assists in 2022, already a career season for goal production. He’s entered 2022 with unmatched confidence and results are following.

This will be the first meeting between the two teams in 2022, what do you think will be the deciding factor in the game?

How Columbus decides to line up in their starting 11 is huge. The Crew played in a 4-3-3 in the last three matches but could return to a 4-2-3-1 with Zelarayán healthy. They could also keep the 4-3-3 with Zelarayán playing outside of his normal attacking midfielder role.

The match has a stronger chance of being open if the Crew return to their usual look. Columbus could opt to play more conservatively in the 4-3-3 and wait for their chances on the counter.

And for any of our supporters that might be in Columbus in the near future are there any spots you'd suggest they check out?

The one spot that fulfills a lot of needs is the North Market, which is walking distance to Lower.Com Field, the new downtown stadium. It offers a mix of local food vendors that represent the diversity of Columbus. Just about every continent is represented.

For US-specific food, there are also vendors that offer great burgers and hot chicken. My favorite is Hot Chicken Takeover, a local company that has a simple menu featuring Nashville-style hot chicken sandwiches, and bone-in and boneless chicken. I always eat the mac and cheese first though.