Columbus Crew SC comes off a week layoff after three consecutive wins. The fresh Black & Gold side will face a Sporting Kansas City team that gave up a late goal in a midweek road trip to face New York City FC.
Crew SC were able to rest and recover over the international break. Waylon Francis, Artur, and Ola Kamara were held out of training over the break. Kamara and Artur returned to training and appear available, while Francis may take more time back to full fitness.
The team’s key international starters came back mostly healthy as well. Justin Meram may be suffering from the lag of traveling halfway across the world, but was back practicing by Friday. Both Harrison Afful and Jonathan Mensah played for Ghana during their must win matchups the past week. The right back had to play through injury and was held back to recover. Jonathan appears ready to continue his fine form.
While Kansas City played midweek, they have two key reinforcements at Matt Besler and Graham Zusi are ready after duty with the U.S. National Team.
Keys to the match:
The Manneh factor: With the addition of Pedro Santos and the return of Federico Higuain from injury, there aren’t a lot of opportunities for Crew SC’s hottest attacker the month of July. Even with the travel, Meram is still a likely starter on the left. That means that Manneh will be Gregg Berhalter’s impact sub as he’s getting back to full fitness. Even with all the offensive firepower, Crew SC’s success may still depend on how quickly Kekuta Manneh can make an impact when he’s called upon.
Momentum: The question of how much momentum was lost over the international break may depend on the momentum of Jonathan’s form. The Ghanaian center back has been a rock over the last month as Columbus has started to cement its position as a playoff team. If Jonathan has figured out MLS and is locking down the back, that benefits a team that pushes numbers into attack.
Fortress MAPFRE: Columbus has four straight wins at home, starting with a July win against the Union. The Chicago Fire, LA Galaxy, and FC Dallas have fallen as Crew SC has outscored opponents eight goals to two given up over the course of the streak. Kansas City has struggled on the road with a middling 11 points in 13 games and an offense that has misfired to the tune of just over .5 goals per game.
How to Watch:
Date/Time: Sunday Sept. 10th, 1:00 p.m. ET
Venue: MAPFRE Stadium (Columbus, Ohio)
Stream: Watch ESPN
Listen: CD102.5 FM (English Broadcast) La Mega 103.1 FM (Spanish)