The New England Revolution come to town to try and rebound after their daft 1-0 loss against FC Dallas, Columbus Crew SC trying to find the net for the first time in two matches in a span of over 40 shots.
Head coach Gregg Berhalter mentioned he may make some changes to his lineup, and while that may be classic talk, it may be wise to do so having three loses in a row with little to show in front of net.
Federico Higuain has been near invisible apart from popping up with small moments of brilliance. Finding a way to get him more involved in the attack will be crucial to having success in this match.
New England sports a midfield anchor of Wilfried Zahibo with a box-to-box player in either Scott Caldwell or Luis Caicedo. This strong and fast midfield will likely present some challenges for Higuain, so it will be interesting to see how Berhalter positions the Argentine to be most effective.
Cristian Martinez may lose his starting role with Niko Hansen coming off the bench for him last match and registering a shot off the iron. Martinez has been fun to watch but has offered little of late in the overall match plans.
Zardes has to be a lock and Pedro Santos will be the player to watch as he will likely pull the strings in this match.
Will Trapp and Artur will do their best against Diego Fagundez but Mohammed Abu will likely see some game time as he has done well off the bench this season.
The back line should remain unchanged with Harrison Afful, Jonathan Mensah, Josh Williams and Milton Valenzuela, but Berhalter has been known to throw in some strange surprises when things are on a downward trend and confidence is declining.
Zack Steffen starts between the sticks as he looks to pick up his lackluster performances this season. He will be opposite Matt Turner who has been outstanding this season for the Revs coming in for the injured Cody Cropper.
Brad Friedel will have plenty of options for his lineup, but I would not be surprised if Krisztian Nemeth comes in for either Caldwell or Caicedo. However it may make tactical sense to play Caicedo on the left, to mark out Santos, but he has been rather shaky offensively when tasked with wider roles.
Teal Bunbery or Juan Agudelo will be the solo man up top, and this one may be a coin flip. Cristian Penilla will start on the flank providing the most width and wide attacking options. Diego Fagundez will be the central creative option, often making darting runs past the forward line where he will provide attacking options as a supporting striker.
The backline may have one change as Antonio Delamea comes in for Anibaba who has been struggling recently. Claude Dielna will be his partner in the center while Andrew Farrell and Gabriel Somi will be on the flanks.
The Revs have slowed down their game a little this season, but still seem most comfortable and effective when attacking on the counter. The same could be said for Crew SC, as Berhalter’s tactics ask for concentrated and methodical play, but the counter attacks have been largely more productive.
Neither defensive four have really shown that they can handle the speed of quick counter attacks, so if this match gets away from both teams, we could see a straight on shootout.
Crew SC will more than likely keep their 4-2-3-1 but with a midfield change or two and the Revs have been fairly consistent in shape as well this season. New England plays a sort of 4-2-3-1 with a box-to-box midfielder, a defensive anchorman and an interior playing wide midfielder on one of the flanks. Some have called it a 4-1-4-1, but with Fagundez often playing so high it makes sense to separate his notation to that behind the striker or along side the striker.
Whatever label you like to apply to it, they play fast and operate through Fagundez in the center, Penilla on the wing, or Somi if Penilla is on the opposite (right) flank. The Crew SC wingbacks are going to have a lot of defensive duties keeping everyone in check.
Let us know your thoughts before the game, and if you think the teams will lineup differently, head over to our You Pick the Starting XI article to tell us what you expect to see tonight in Columbus.