For the last two months of the season, lineup changes have had a negative connotation amongst Crew supporters, with almost every part of the field impacted by injuries. But Saturday it was mostly a positive. Midfielder Darlington Nagbe returned from missing the last eight matches and goalkeeper Eloy Room returned after three.
One lineup surprise was the absence of Gyasi Zardes. The Columbus forward missed due to injury and will also miss Wednesday’s match when they travel to Washington D.C., according to head coach Caleb Porter’s postmatch press conference comments. Newcomer Krisztian Nemeth got his first start in Black & Gold.
D.C. United will host the Crew, and since their manager and club legend, Ben Olsen, was fired on Oct. 8, D.C. has lost one, earned a draw against top club in the Eastern Conference in the Philadelphia Union and won two straight against FC Cincinnati and Atlanta United. United’s last result came in dramatic fashion with a 92nd minute game-winning goal on Saturday.
For Wednesday’s match, you get to pick who you want to start in the Massive Report Supporters’ XI. Going into the contest, here are a few things to consider before making you picks.
First, Aboubacar Keita has started the last three matches for Columbus, after starting just twice since returning from the MLS is Back Tournament. Just when it looked like Josh Williams and Jonathan Mensah had cemented their partnership on the backline, a dip in results saw Keita back in the starting lineup. Will that continue?
Second, Nagbe played 63 minutes and didn’t miss a single pass against Houston. Going into Saturday, Porter alluded that he wasn’t sure how much time the returning players would receive, but with a solid outing, does Columbus take the chance of having him startfour4 days later with another away match?
Lastly, the offense will be without Zardes’ 12 goals and four assists on the season. Does Nemeth get another start to see how he blends in with a healthy Crew side or does Fanendo Adi or Jordan Hamilton get the nod? Hamilton registered his first minutes in 2020, coming into the match with six minutes remaining.
With four games remaining in the regular season, Columbus is six points back from the top of the league and has a game in hand. A win on Wednesday keeps the Crew in the Supporters’ Shield picture, especially with a big match looming on the weekend when the Black & Gold face the Union.
Let us know who you want to start and we’ll compare your lineup against a prediction from a Massive Report contributor.