So long 4-1-4-1 formation. We hardly knew you.
After the Columbus Crew came out in this new look on Saturday against FC Dallas, the Black & Gold have gone back to the team’s more preferred 4-3-2-1 look for Wednesday night’s match against the Montreal Impact. The team released its lineup approximately an hour before kick off and head coach Caleb Porter has gone back to the formation that saw his team rise to that of the elite in Major League Soccer this season.
Because of this switch, rookie Homegrown product Aidan Morris makes his first professional start. Morris, a central midfielder, had appeared in four games prior to Wednesday night, including substitute appearances in each of the last two contests. The rookie impressed the Crew coaching staff with his play and earned the right to start with Darlington Nagbe still out with a knee injury and Fatai Alashe working his way back from an injury of his own, despite not being listed on the injury report.
Speaking of injuries, the Black & Gold have one in goal. Starting goalkeeper Eloy Room left the game in Dallas with what appeared to be a knee injury after stepping awkwardly. Room attempted to play through it but was eventually replaced by backup Andrew Tarbell. Tarbell, the birthday boy, makes his fourth start and fifth appearance overall since joining Columbus in the offseason. Room’s injury is not serious and it’s likely the goalkeeper is back for Sunday’s trip to Orlando City.
The backline in front of Tarbell is a familiar one with Milton Valenzuela at left back, Josh Williams and captain Jonathan Mensah at center back and Harrison Afful on the right. This is the third straight match this back four has started a game and, after the Crew was so good defensively for much of the season, looks to rebound from conceding five goals in the last two matches.
The attackers are familiar ones to Black & Gold fans. Pedro Santos replaces the injured Lucas Zelarayan in the No. 10 role. Zelarayan is set to miss at least a few games for the Crew after suffering a “high hamstring” injury just before halftime against Dallas. Youness Mokhtar makes his ninth start this season and second straight. Luis Diaz makes his sixth consecutive start on the right win. Forward Gyasi Zardes maintains his spot at forward for Columbus, a spot he does not release often.
On the bench, Matt Lampson returns to back up Tarbell. Aboubacar Keita is in reserve at center back, while Chris Cadden and Hector Jimenez are available as fullbacks. Rookie midfielder Sebastian Berhalter can come in for Morris, his Homegrown counterpart, and Emmanuel Boateng and Derrick Etienne Jr. provide speed off the bench on the wings. The Crew has two forwards as options as substitutes in Jordan Hamilton and Fanendo Adi, likely due to the number of injuries at other positions.
Given the injuries, this is a strong lineup put out by Porter. With the trip to Orlando this weekend, it’s clear the Black & Gold are focused on getting all three points at home in this midweek affair.