In the final match of the Columbus Crew season, Black & Gold head coach Caleb Porter went with a playoff-caliber lineup against Atlanta United. Columbus came out of Decision Day with a 2-1 home victory, and coupled with an Orlando City loss to expansion side Nashville SC, the Crew earned the third position in the Eastern Conference table. That paired them up against sixth place side New York Red Bulls in the MLS Cup playoffs.
Throughout the 2020 regular season, consistency in the lineup was hard to come by with injuries to midfielders Darlington Nagbe and Lucas Zelarayan, goalkeeper Eloy Room and forward Gyasi Zardes, among others. As the season came to a close, and the team got healthier, Columbus found its entire roster available, minus starting center back Vito Wormgoor who has been out since the early minutes of the MLS is Back Tournament.
New York comes into the playoffs on the back of two wins, two draws and a loss, most recently ending the regular season with a victory against Toronto FC. This will not be the first time the two sides have met this season. Columbus came out on the winning side of a 2-0 victory in the second group match of the MLS is Back Tournament.
For their second matchup of the season, Massive Report wants you to choose which players should start. A victory moves the Crew to the conference semifinals and a potential trip to play against Toronto FC or host one of the play-in match winners if that team gets past the second-place Canadian side.
Here are a couple things to consider in your lineup making. Jonathan Mensah’s partner at center back has shifted between veteran Josh Williams and second-year player Aboubacar Keita. While Keita looked like the starter immediately following Wormgoor’s injury, Williams took advantage of his minutes and didn’t lose the position until a four-match suspension shelved him near the season’s end.
The other position that has seen an influx of change, outside of those caused by injury, is the winger role. At the beginning of the season, Youness Mokhtar and Luis Diaz were the favorites, and competed for the role as such. Changes have come through the addition of Emmanuel Boateng and the rise of Derrick Etienne within the lineup. To end the season, Etienne became Porter’s choice on decision day.
Diaz is away with Costa Rica for international duty, but the team is “hopeful” he will be able to return and quarantine for long enough to be available for Saturday’s game against the Red Bulls.
Make your picks and they will be compared to a predicted lineup by a Massive Report contributor.