Columbus Crew SC were a little banged up after the semifinal series win against the Montreal Impact a little less than two weeks ago, but the international break has given the team a chance to rest and heal before the home leg of the Eastern Conference Finals. Only Kristinn Steindorsson remains on the injury report.
Two Crew SC players had been racing to get fit after picking up injuries in the past month. Tony Tchani had picked up a leg injury that limited his playing time in the Montreal series. Normally a 90 minute starter, Tchani was only able to play 82 minutes in the first leg and 74 minutes in the second leg. The injury forced him to withdraw from the Cameroon national team squad and miss out on his first international cap. The break gave him needed rest and he appears fully fit.
Mohammed Saied is also off the injury report. The Swedish midfielder had to leave the regular season finale in the first half after picking up a leg injury. The hamstring injury kept him out of the semifinal series against Montreal as he rested and recovered. He's been fully active in practice and looks to be an option for the bench for the first time since October.
The only key absence is Gaston Sauro. The Argentine defender picked up his second yellow card of the postseason in the second leg against Montreal and is suspended for the first leg of the Eastern Conference Finals. Gregg Berhalter has been coy over naming a replacement, but Tyson Wahl has been the primary backup in defense since the coach lost confidence in Emanuel Pogatetz.
Berhalter did have to manage the fitness of four Crew SC internationals. Kevan George played in qualifiers in the region. Harrison Afful and Cedrick Mabwati flew to Africa while Justin Meram went to Taiwan. Berhalter has managed these absences in the past and the players were likely given individualized routines to help ease back into club duties.
Columbus appears to be peaking physically at the right time. The injury list is short and most of the team has had plenty of rest after 34 regular season games and two additional playoff games. They'll be fully fit for the Conference Finals.