A LOOK AT TONIGHT'S STARTING XI

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LAST REGULAR-SEASON MEETING

On July 17, Columbus Crew hosted New York City FC at Lower.com Field. Columbus opened the scoring in first-half stoppage-time from midfielder Darlington Nagbe with midfielder Pedro Santos adding an assist. New York City equalized in the 47th minute from midfielder Jesus Medina. Columbus regained the lead in the 62nd minute after midfielder Lucas Zelarayan scored a direct free-kick goal, his fourth direct free-kick goal of the season. Goalkeeper Eloy Room made six saves as Columbus took a 2-1 win over NYCFC. With the win, Columbus maintains a five-match home unbeaten streak against New York City, dating back to the 2018 regular season.

COLUMBUS CREW DEFENSIVE PERFORMANCE SETTING LEAGUE-HIGH STANDARDS

Defender Jonathan Mensah made 14 clearances in Saturday's match at Atlanta United, tying him for the League lead in single-match clearances this season. His 11 headed clearances in the match also set a season-high for a single match, while his season total of 46 paces the League. Mensah is third in the League in total clearances with 73. Overall, the Crew has 149 headed clearances, setting a League-high total in the category, while also placing second in the League in total clearances with 278.

Additionally, the Club leads Major League Soccer in blocks, with 63. The Black & Gold are tied for the League lead in fewest goals con-ceded, having allowed only 12 goals through 15 matches. Goal-keeper Eloy Room is tied for the second-fewest goals conceded for goalkeepers having made 10 or more appearances (10) and has the second-lowest goals allowed average across MLS with goalkeepers who have played in 10 matches (0.77).

NAGBE APPROACHING 300 MLS APPEARANCES MARK

With his next appearance, midfielder Darlington Nagbe will make his 300th appearance in Major League Soccer regular-season action. Nagbe joined Major League Soccer prior to the 2011 season. During that time, he has played for the Portland Timbers, Atlanta United, and the Crew, scoring 31 goals while providing 39 assists. He has won three MLS Cup titles, having won with the Portland Timbers in 2015, Atlanta United in 2018, and Columbus Crew in 2020.

ZELARAYAN FACES NEW YORK CITY FC WITH CHANCE TO SET CLUB RECORD

Midfielder Lucas Zelarayan enters Friday's match against New York City FC tied with the Club lead in goals scored against NYCFC, hav-ing scored four goals in his three appearances against the side. Of his four goals, three were match-winners for the Crew, and three goals came from direct free-kicks.

COLUMBUS CREW LEADS LEAGUE IN GOALS SCORED  OUTSIDE OF THE 18-YARD BOX

The Black & Gold currently lead Major League Soccer in goals scored outside of the 18-yard box during the regular season, having scored six goals from that area. Additionally, midfielder Lucas Zelarayan leads the League with five goals scored from the range.

ZELARAYAN LEADING LEAGUE IN DIRECT FREE-KICK GOALS THIS SEASON

Lucas Zelarayan has scored four direct free-kick goals during the 2021 MLS regular season, having connected versus D.C. United (May 8), twice at New York City FC (May 22), and against NYCFC (July 17). He currently sits tied for third with David Beckham on the single-season, direct free-kick goal scoring chart.

NAGBE AND HAIRSTON: PASS MASTERS

Through 15 matches in the 2021 MLS regular season, midfielders Darlington Nagbe and Marlon Hairston are among the League lead-ers in passing accuracy among players who have attempted 100 or more passes. Nagbe has made 14 starts while completing 694 of his 720 attempted passes for a passing accuracy percentage of 96.39%, while Hairston has made seven appearances and completed 220 of his 235 attempted passes for a passing accuracy percentage of 93.62%.

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