Nick Cushing has been impressed with New York City's preparations for their MLS return against the Columbus Crew on Saturday.

NYCFC headed into the international break having achieved their longest winning run in a single domestic campaign since 2019 (five games), leaving them third in the Eastern Conference and six points behind Inter Miami with two games in hand.

Cushing explained the break in play halted his side's momentum, but was pleased to see a renewed focus among the players upon their return to training.

“You can look at the break in two ways,” Cushing said. “It wasn’t the perfect timing because we had momentum and results, but at the same time, you have to take the rest when you get it because the schedule is so brutal.

“It was a great opportunity to rest and recover and give the players some family time as well as refresh and regenerate. I was really pleased with the focus they came back with.

“We know Columbus is going to be difficult, but I’m really pleased with the way the players have prepared this week.”

Columbus come into the fixture on a winning streak of their own, beating Orlando City 2-0 away from home to secure a third straight away success last time out in MLS.

The Crew have had two weeks to recover from their CONCACAF Champions Cup defeat against Pachuca, in which many of their players spent the two days leading up to the match suffering from food poisoning.

"It’s true that something happened over there," head coach Wilfried Nancy said. "We were all good, and suddenly when we woke up, we were all sick.

"So, it was difficult for me, during the game also, to assess and to do changes and to help my team to get better because they weren't in a normal state."

PLAYERS TO WATCH

New York City – Alonso Martinez

Martínez came off the bench to score a hat-trick in nine minutes and 57 seconds in the second half of NYCFC’s win over San Jose Earthquakes last time out.

In doing so, Martínez became the seventh player in MLS history to score three goals from the bench.

Columbus Crew – Diego Rossi

Rossi has scored four goals in his last three MLS games, the fourth time he has managed to do so in his career.

New York City are one of only seven teams in MLS that Rossi has failed to score against since his move to America in 2023.

MATCH PREDICTION – COLUMBUS CREW WIN

The Crew have won their last three regular-season matches, all on the road, including a 2-0 win at Orlando in their last MLS match on May 25. Columbus have won four straight regular-season road matches just once before in club history, doing so in August-September 2015.

Columbus are unbeaten in their last three encounters against NYCFC, last tasting defeat against Saturday's opponents in August 2022.

But, New York have lost only one of their last 10 home matches against the Crew (seven wins, two draws, including playoffs) after losing the first meeting in 2015, also scoring in all 11 home matches against them.

OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

New York City – 34%

Draw – 25.8%

Columbus Crew – 40.3%