Against the New England Revolution, a late goal lost the Columbus Crew a point in a 1-0 defeat last week. Saturday’s match isn’t going to be any easier for the Black & Gold. They travel to play New York City FC this weekend. Without the match congestion of the CONCACAF Champions League, the powder blues of New York have eight points out of a possible 15. That’s good enough for third place in the Eastern Conference standings.
A positive for the Crew is that the team and supporters get to see what they can do after a full week of rest and preparation. Head coach Caleb Porter’s side packed five matches into two-and-a-half weeks and the results were injuries, tired legs and poor showings on the field.
Massive Report wants you to choose who you want to start for Columbus on Saturday. Before you make your picks, here are some things to consider.
Starting in the offensive half of the field, Porter selected Pedro Santos, Derrick Etienne Jr. and Luis Diaz as his attacking midfielders against the Revolution. This trio came as a surprise to Crew supporters because of the absence of midfield star Lucas Zelarayan. Santos played the No. 10 role, but the team struggled to create many chances, shooting only once on goal and six times total.
It’s unsure if Zelarayan will be back this week. At the one portion of training open to the media this week, the Argentinian was back on the field, but not part of all drills. On the wings, both Etienne and Diaz left the New England match due to injuries. Diaz took part in training, but Etienne was not on the field. Neither was fellow winger Alexandru Matan. That potentially puts just Diaz and Santos as wingers available.
On defense, Porter deployed center backs Josh Williams and Jonathan Mensah against New England. This is no shock, but supporters are still waiting to see what to make of Vito Wormgoor and his place on the team. With matches coming at Black & Gold at a more rest-filled clip, Porter’s selection alongside Mensah will show who he thinks is the best partnership on defense.
At fullback, it’s been a three-player race. Harrison Afful, Waylon Francis and Saad Abdul-Salaam all have had their fair share of minutes as of late with Milton Valenzuela and Marlon Hairston Jr. out. Hairston hasn’t yet seen the field for the Crew in a competitive match and it looks like that could change soon. He was part of the team’s training session that was open to the media.
A positive on the injury front is the return of midfielder Perry Kitchen. He provides depth behind Darlington Nagbe and Artur, plus substitute minutes from a strong midfielder to help close out matches.
None of these injury pieces are confirmed yet by the club. Look for more information on Massive Report on Friday when the injury report is released and Porter speaks with the media.
Now it’s time to make your picks. Select your best 11 and Massive Report will share your choices alongside those of a site contributor.