With the dust barely settled from Columbus Crew SC’s last match, we find ourselves on the dawn of another match day! After a decisive 3-0 victory against the Chicago Fire in an empty MAPFRE Stadium, the Crew travels to New Jersey to take on New York City FC at Red Bull Arena on Monday evening.
The condensed schedule and new travel restrictions will tax the Black & Gold’s depth but the team’s recent success has started to point to some real clarity in a consistent starting XI. This clarity was reflected in how you, the supporters, chose your starting XI. With almost 400 responses, this was one of the most decisive votes in a Supporter’s XI this season. While the injuries of Lucas Zelarayan and Eloy Room leave a few question marks, here is how you chose to line up against NYCFC.
Let’s check out the official Supporters’ XI:
With a clean sheet vs Chicago last Thursday, and a strong showing in a loss to Minnesota United in the knockout round of MLS is Back Tournament, Andrew Tarbell earned 72 percent of the votes as Eloy Room continues to rehab from injury.
The back four remained the same as last match with team captain Jonathan Mensah earning 100 percent of the vote and fan-favorite Josh Williams gaining 91 percent. On the outside, the usual pair of Harrison Afful (97 percent) and Milton Valenzuela (78 percent) got the nod from supporters.
In the midfield, it was (as usual) a little more contentious. Ninety-one percent of votes are confident in Lucas Zelarayan’s return from injury. The central midfield pair of of Darlington Nagbe (99 percent) and Artur (97 percent) were pretty clear. On the wings, Pedro Santos slots in on the right with 99 percent of the vote and Derrick Etienne Jr. edges out Luis Diaz by a single percentage.
Up front, 99 percent of you picked Gyasi Zardes. The striker looks to continue his hot start tonight.
It’s hard to argue with most of these choices. For the first time in a while: the Crew seems to have a fairly clear and consistent first team XI. In my Predicted XI, I did make a few different choices:
After reading Caleb Porter’s comments on Lucas Zelarayan’s injury progress, I do think we will see the team’s usual starting No. 10, but I think it will be in relief, not starting. A day-of-game flight and shortened training schedule does not set Zelarayan for the best possible return to starting lineup and Porter did sound slightly cautious in bringing back the Designated Player. I expect today to be a bit of a tune-up and check-up as a replacement and his return to the starting lineup will come this Saturday in the Hell is Real Derby. Pedro Santos moves into the No. 10, like he didThursday against Chicago and Luis Diaz takes the right side.
I loved what I saw from Josh Williams on Thursday against Chicago, but I think the second center back position is still a point of rotation for Porter with Vito Wormgoor out with injury. While I could see Williams getting the start, I think Aboubacar Keita will get a chance in New Jersey.
I did predict Milton Valenzuela and Harrison Afful, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Hector Jimenez or Chris Cadden got some time as well with the compressed schedule.
With small tweaks here and there, Porter definitely has a strong first XI set.