Columbus Crew SC had a successful home stand, but now take the push to the playoffs on the road against the red hot Vancouver Whitecaps. It also is the reunion for a couple players who were traded earlier in the season. Kekuta Manneh hasn’t found his stride for Crew SC while Tony Tchani has been a lineup mainstay for the Caps.
Only Waylon Francis is on the injury list. That means that Artur and Harrison Afful are good bets to return while Ola Kamara is more likely to be fully match fit. The team will have to do without Designated Player center back Jonathan Mensah who is suspended due to card accumulation.
Vancouver played midweek and will be forced to rotate the lineup to stay fresh, but offensive leaders Cristian Techera and Fredy Montero were held out, so the home side should be near full strength.
Keys to the match:
After Ola: Crew SC struggled after Ola Kamara was subbed out last week. Adam Jahn’s skillset is limited to playing a target forward. Attacks petered out when he came on as Columbus couldn’t push forward at pace. If Kamara isn’t able to go the full 90, then Gregg Berhalter will have to find a better option than the odd fit that is Jahn.
Addition by subtraction: Jonathan has been forced out of the lineup due to yellow card suspension and many fans are probably happy given his inconsistent play this season. For Crew SC to come out ahead, Lalas Abubakar or Alex Crognale will have to be able to step up and perform on the road.
Time for speed: Kamara, Federico Higuain, Pedro Santos, and Justin Meram are all talented attackers, but they aren’t known for blazing speed. While Cristian Martinez has taken the first attacker off the bench role, the BC Place turf is crying out for the speed of Manneh. Columbus was able to play an excellent counterattacking game in their last trip in 2015 and the speedy winger would be very useful in breaking in transition.
How to Watch:
Date/Time: Saturday Sept. 16th, 7:00 p.m. ET
Venue: BC Place (Vancouver, BC)
Watch: CW Columbus, Spectrum Sports, BCSN2 (Channel Guide)
Stream: MLS Live
Listen: CD102.5 FM (English Broadcast) La Mega 103.1 FM (Spanish)