Head coach Caleb Porter threw off Columbus Crew SC supporters when his starting 11 against FC Cincinnati veered from what many expected to see. Lucas Zelarayan didn’t make the gameday roster, while dealing with an injury. Gyasi Zardes was also absent from his usual starting striker role, as he and his wife celebrated the birth of their fourth child just two days before the match.
In came Fanendo Adi and Fatai Alashe. Porter used the two former FC Cincinnati players against their former teaem, with Alasha slotting into Darlington Nagbe’s midfield position. Nagbe made a return to his college days by playing the No. 10 role, in place of Zelarayan, instead of the usual swap of Pedro Santos.
Youness Mokhtar completed the midfield, and the match took a turn when he was substituted at the half for Luis Diaz. The action came sevn minutes into the second half, as Diaz sped past Greg Garza, made a perfect pass into the penalty box to Santos, who finished the play, scoring the first of Columbus’ three goals in 20 minutes.
Once Cincinnati gave up that first goal, the team starting crossing the midfield line, which opened up space for Zardes, the MLS Player of the Week, off the bench for two goals in seven minutes.
There’s one more match in the Phase 1 restart, as the Crew heads to face the Chicago Fire at Soldier Field. Chicago is coming off a 2-1 loss to the New England Revolution on Sunday night. The Fire has secured four points out of a possible 15 since the restart.
This week, we’re asking you to share who you want to start in Porter’s 11, with the Supporters’ XI. Saturday’s match will be the most rest the team has had in the restart contest. Does that mean that the lineup will be more of the same or does knowing that there are Phase 2 games coming soon, and having a two-point lead at the top of the table give the Black & Gold the ability to rest?
Diaz came into the last match at half time and was crucial in breaking through the Cincinnati defense. Does that give him a start over Mokhtar? With Zelarayan potentially missing Saturday’s match, does the offense go through Nagbe for a second straight week? Will Aboubacar Keita make a return to the starting lineup at center back or does the pairing of Josh Williams and Jonathan Mensah get a chance to extend their streak of four straight clean sheets?
Let us know. And before Saturday’s match, a contributor from Massive Report will share your results alongside who he thinks will get the starting nod.