The Columbus Crew has had a rough season, on the road. Wednesday night, the team lost 1-0 to D.C. United in a match that can be described as lethargic. The Crew has not won a road match all season, excluding the MLS is Back Tournament. Given the recent slide from the top of the Eastern Conference to third place, road gams could become an issue for the Black & Gold come the MLS Cup playoffs.
Before seeding and end-of-season placement is decided, there is an important match to be played Sunday, when top-of-the-league Philadelphia Union visits MAPFRE Stadium. Head coach Caleb Porter’s starting XI on Wednesday gave a strong appearance that he’s resting starters for the upcoming playoff push. Chris Cadden, Sebastian Berhalter and Waylon Francis all made rare starts.
Cadden started his first match since Aug. 25 in the 1-0 loss to New York City FC. Since that match, the defender clocked only 12 minutes as a substitute against Toronto FC. Berhalter also hadn’t received any on-field minutes since the 3-1 Toronto FC loss. For Francis made the start after not having any playing time for the Crew since July 21, 2019, before suffering a knee injury.
Expected playoff starters Darlington Nagbe and Lucas Zelarayan did see the field, both coming on in the 57th minute as they continue their comeback from injuries, but weren’t the difference-makers the club needed in the losing effort.
The Union come back to Columbus on a tear. Since an early October loss to Toronto, Philadelphia has gone unbeaten in six game, with five wins and a draw. The Union is coming off a 2-1 victory against the Chicago Fire.
With playoff seeding hanging in the balance, Massive Report asks our readers to make picks on who should start in this marquee MLS matchup against. Before you decide, there are questions to consider:
Will Gyasi Zardes return to the lineup? Krisztian Nemeth has had a strong introduction to Crew supporters, but if Zardes is healthy, does Porter start him or bring him in off the bench? With Zelarayan and Nagbe receiving limited minutes on Wednesday, do these two start and try to play a full 90 minutes? Does center back Jonathan Mensah get a match off? He has played 90 minutes in every match this season, including the MLS is Back Tournament. That looks less likely with Josh Williams serving his final game of a four-match suspension.
Make your picks and Massive Report will compare them to the prediction of one of our contributors before Sunday’s match against Philadelphia.