It hasn’t been the best week for the Columbus Crew. Wednesday’s 2-0 loss to Torornto FC was the entrée to the team’s Monday appetizer of the club’s rebrand. Supporters hope to send not just the logo back to the kitchen, but the play on the field.
Sunday brings the final match in a stretch of nine games since April 9, and it isn’t going to be easy against the New England Revolution. The match pits two MLS originals against one another, with both teams coming off less than ideal displays. New England has a draw and loss in the last week. Columbus has a victory in the same timeframe, but due to defensive mistakes by an injury-ridden D.C.United.
Massive Report wants to know who you think should be in head coach Caleb Porter’s starting 11 against the Revolution. Here are some things to consider.
The Crew was without midfielders Artur, wingers Pedro Santos and Derrick Etienne Jr., center back Josh Williams and fullback Milton Valenzuela. Valenzuela has been missing since the second leg of the CONCACAF Champions League against Monterrey and it’s unclear when he will return. His four missing teammates from Wednesday could be available.
Looking at who we know is healthy, there are areas where a change could benefit the team. At center back, Vitor Wormgoor and Jonathan Mensah played their first minutes together since July of 2020. Communication between the two wasn’t great, with Toronto having easy access to goal scoring opportunities. If Williams is available, his start with Mensah would not come as a surprise as Wormgoor continues to return from a serious ankle injury.
At fullback, Saad Abdul-Salaam and Waylon Francis performed well on Wednesday against TFC. Both veterans give Columbus a different perspective compared to the usual starters of Harrison Afful and Valenzuela.
In the midfield, Isaiah Parente played well in the absence of Artur but the offensive attacking midfield had its concerns. Newcomer in 2021, Alexandru Matan, started his first match with the Black & Gold and showed flashes of the talent that had the Crew interested in the young player, but was inconsistent. Luis Diaz, like Matan, had chances on goal but all off target, at tough angles or outside of the penalty area. Etienne is an option too if he returns. He hasn’t started a match for Columbus since the 0-0 draw against CF Montreal.
The striker position hasn’t struck fear in MLS defenses this season. Both Gyasi Zardes and Bradley Wright-Phillips haven’t found many opportunities. Porter has alternated the two and even played a two-forward system to try and come back against Toronto. If Zardes is healthy, and with a week between matches on the back end of Sunday, he’s the first-choice forward.
Make your picks on who should start for the Crew this Sunday. Your picks, alongside those of a Massive Report contributor, will be shared before Sunday night’s kickoff.