There are important matches and then there is a playoff conference final. Sunday at 3 p.m., the New England Revolution come to MAPFRE Stadium to face the Columbus Crew in the Major League Soccer Eastern Conference Final. The winner gets the chance at the ultimate prize for any MLS team, the MLS Cup.
Over the past week, positivity came out of team updates, when the days leading up to the Crew’s conference semifinal extra time win against Nashville SC were anything but positive. The team went from losing players due to positive COVID-19 tests to now having two potentially return to the lineup.
Goalkeeper Eloy Room and veteran defender Waylon Francis both were moved from the medically not cleared to play list to questionable. It’s with this potential good news that Massive Report asked you to choose who should start in the Eastern Conference Final.
Each match, we compare your picks from those of a Massive Report contributor, but going into the last match before the MLS Cup Final, you and Massive Report had the same ideas in mind. Here is your combined Supporters’ and Predicted XI:
Supporters’ & Predicted XI:
The biggest concern going into the Nashville match was Room not being available. Andrew Tarbell didn’t justify those concerns with a solid performance at home, with four saves to keep Columbus’ MLS Cup run alive. As long as testing continues to come back negative, it could be Room’s match to start.
Elsewhere in the lineup, the only big difference is on the winger position. In past three matches, Derrick Etienne Jr. has received your confidence, which was also justified on the field with solid performances in the closing weeks of the season against the Philadelphia Union and an assist on the game-winning goal in the victory against the New York Red Bulls. He’s still not medically cleared to play, so expect Luis Diaz to be in that winger role opposite Pedro Santos.
Regular season injury issues in this Columbus side have not allowed for much consistency in the team’s lineup. Since the side has gotten healthy in the final weeks of the season, the Black & Gold have shown what once made this group the best team in the league. The Crew will face a big challenge on Sunday against New England Revolution, coached by MLS coaching legend Bruce Arena.
Watch Sunday, on ABC, to see which of the two MLS originals represent the Eastern Conference in the MLS Cup Final on Dec. 12th.