If you could call Caleb Porter’s Saturday Columbus Crew lineup one thing, unpredictable is a good option. He put the 11 best players on the field, even when it sacrificed his preferred 4-2-3-1 formation. A main reason for being able to do that is out tonight, with Lucas Zelarayan’s hamstring injury leaving him off the team sheet for at least a couple weeks.
On top of that, there is a chance that goalkeeper Eloy Room doesn’t play either, after coming off the field due to injury in the 2-2 draw to FC Dallas.
That is the current state of the Crew lineup that Massive Report asked you create for the matchup against Montreal Impact.
Even with the potential for Room to miss, voters overwhelmingly chose him to start, with 93.3 percent of selections. Nothing definite has been shared about his condition and Porter did elude to the fact that he could play. Although he has given up five goals in the past two matches, Room’s season-long performance has been solid, helping the team to the top of the MLS standings.
In front of him, the defensive back four came with no surprises. Josh Williams has received a bulk of the starting minutes with Vito Wormgoor still out due to injury. Aboubacar Keita’s minutes have gone down substantially, but a quick turnaround time could see him getting the nod over veteran Williams.
The midfield came with a couple surprises with Derrick Etienne Jr. receiving 93.3 percent even after not starting and seeing his minutes cut. Youness Mokhtar received 37 out of a total of 484 responses, leaving him with only 7 percent of the votes, despite earlier in the season being a Supporters’ XI favorite. Opposite Etienne Jr. is Luis Diaz, who has had a great run of form as of late, but without much in the assists and goals category to show for it.
To play opposite Artur, you picked Aidan Morris over Sebastian Berhalter and Fatai Alashe. The Homegrown talent has played well in his minutes this season and has earned voters’ trust to start.
Two key offensive positions stayed the same too, with Gyasi Zardes and Pedro Santos receiving almost all your confidence, both coming in at 99.4 percent.
It hasn’t been easy to predict the lineups as of late, but here how Massive Report sees the lineup falling against Montreal.
A coaching mantra is not to look past the game in front of you. This Sunday, Columbus travels for a big test against Orlando City, a team only two points behind the Crew for the top spot in the East. The last time the Black & Golld faced a top-of-the-table competitor, the team didn’t land on the right side, losing 3-1 to Toronto FC.
With that next match in mind, Room not starting against the Impact makes sense. It sounds like the extent of the injury isn’t severe, but this is now the second time this season that the Black & Gold goalkeeper has missed time. For all intents and purposes, Andrew Tarbell has stepped up in his backup role, giving up just one goal in his two matches after MLS is Back.
It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Keita take Williams’ place tonight, but the pairing of Jonathan Mensah and Williams is hard to break up. If Keita does get into the starting 11, it could be to rest Williams for Sunday.
Alashe came off the injury list going into the weekend trip to Frisco but stayed back in Columbus. That could be to not risk same-day travel and stepping back in his recovery. Prior to his injury, he stepped in for Darlington Nagbe and that could happen again here. If he doesn’t start, and he’s healthy, he should receive minutes.
The attacking midfield anchor of Santos is a no-brainer. Around him? Not so much. Porter likes what he sees in Diaz, with him starting the past five matches. On the other side of Diaz is a toss up. Etienne has seen minutes lately, all of them coming as a substite. His last start was almost a month ago in the 2-2 draw to the Chicago Fire. Mokhtar received the start over the weekend and had a nice goal to show for his time.