The Columbus Crew faced challenges on and off the field last week. On the field, the team had trouble breaking down an organized Nashville SC defense. After 90 minutes, and the two sides locked at 0-0, the Creew faced extra time.
An offensive run of play that started with a creative pass by midfielder Lucas Zelarayan to forward Gyasi Zardes ended with the forward passing into the 18-yard box for a game-winning Pedro Santos goal. Soon after, Zardes added a second to secure a spot in the Eastern Conference Final against a New England Revolution side led by Major League Soccer coaching legend, Bruce Arena.
Off the field, the roster was challenged with positive COVID-19 tests leading to seven players being added to the not medically cleared to play list. Roster-wise, it ended up impacting the team’s choice for starting goalkeeper and winger. Andrew Tarbell, who came into the match with six starts in the 2020 MLS regular season, started in place of Eloy Room, who was not available. Tarbell made four saves in the 2-0 Black & Gold victory.
Derrick Etienne Jr. was left off the roster Sunday too with Luis Diaz starting in his place. Outside of Tarbell and Diaz, the team selection featured starters that have all seen substantial minutes in the closing matches of the season.
Wednesday, the Columbus front office confirmed that the total number of positive tests has increased to eight, but no word on who is added to the not medically cleared to play list. There is also no timetable for when players on that list are guaranteed to return.
It’s with this in mind that Massive Report asks you who should start in a match that will send either Columbus or New England to the MLS Cup Final. Make your picks and your Supporters’ XI will be compared to a lineup predicted by a Massive Report contributor.
The Crew welcomes the Revolution to MAPFRE Stadium for a 3 p.m. ET start time on Sunday. The winner will be crowned the Eastern Conference champion and secure a spot in the MLS Cup Final on Dec. 12th.