Hell is Real once again. For the fourth time in this already unusual season, the Columbus Crew will line up against its rivals from down Interstate-71 South. While the opponent is very familiar, the Crew’s lineup is not.
The strange schedule of the 2020 season has started to catch up to the Black & Gold with Darlington Nagbe, Lucas Zelarayan and now Eloy Room out for Wednesday night’s match and the Crew’s depth will be tested yet again. Thankfully, Columbus should be well rested after an unplanned weekend off when its match against Orlando City SC was postponed due to positive COVID-19 tests.
Because of this, the Supporters’ XI, as voted on by you, has some new names in the lineup:
Backup goalkeeper Andrew Tarbell got the overwhelming nod to take Room’s spot. In the back four, while captain Jonathan Mensah and Josh Williams maintained overwhelming majority vote of the over 400 votes at center back, as did Milton Valenzuela at left back. In an interesting development, Chris Cadden got a sudden surge in support over usual right back Harrison Afful.
In the midfield, things got real interesting. There is no doubt that the absence of Nagbe and Zelarayan leaves big shoes to fill. The voters made some interesting choices with usual mainstays Artur, Luis Diaz and Pedro Santos all maintained their overwhelming vote total. Beyond that, there was a fairly significant drop off in consensus. Homegrown rookie Aidan Morris, coming off his first MLS start, got almost 80 perecent of the vote. Additionally, Emmanuel Boateng grabbed 70 perecent of the vote and slots in on the left side. It’s interesting that Sebasitan Berhalter only received two percent of the vote after seeming to have head coach Caleb Porter’s confidence most of the season. Fatai Alashe, returning from injury, also only received 18 percent of the vote.
Up front, Gyasi Zardes still maintains his choke hold on the front spot.
While it may not have the same juice as Nagbe or Room returning from injury, the return of Alashe has a large impact on the Massive Report Predicted XI:
With Tarbell the presumed choice at goalkeeper, the back four stayed consistent from last game with Afful and Valenzuela on the outside and Williams and Mensah at center back.
In the midfield, prediction fell a little bit more in line with Porter’s previous decisions. Alashe joins Artur in the defensive midfield, while Youness Mokhtar and Diaz take the outside spots. Santos stays in the playmaker role and Zardes remains up front.
The midfield continues to be the biggest spot of contention in lineups. The recent rash of injuries has not helped build any consistency, but thankfully a familiar foe in FC Cincy allows some chance at predictability.