There’s a break on the horizon for the Columbus Crew. After Saturday’s match, the team is off until June 19. In that time, players will have a chance to get healthier, well-rested and it may even result in the potential debut of Kevin Molino. Before all of that excitement, the Crew takes on Toronto FC at historic Crew Stadium.
In their second-to-last MLS regular season match in the house that Lamar Hunt built, the Black & Gold face a team that recently had their number. Midfielder Michael Bradley and forward Jozy Altidore both scored on the Crew in a 2-0 loss two weeks ago. Since then, midfielder Lucas Zelarayan relieved a lot of pressure on the club with a Midas touch on free kicks, turning two set pieces into gold in last week’s 2-1 victory aginst New York City FC.
Columbus looks to turn that momentum into more goal scoring and Massive Report wants to know who you think should start. In the latest edition of the Supporters’ XI, fans have some decisions to make.
The last time out against Toronto, head coach Caleb Porter employed an offensive attack of Luis Diaz and Alexandru Matan on the wings. Between the two was Zelarayan, but the trio weren’t on the same page. What’s plagued the team early in the season is poor delivery into the penalty area. Matan and Diaz both had chances to score, but neither had the accuracy to make a difference.
This time around, winger Pedro Santos and Zelarayan are healthy and, unless there’s a surprise, are likely starting. The Crew has Diaz, Matan and Derrick Etienne Jr. to fill the other winger role. Does Porter give Diaz another chance or should Etienne and Matan get the opportunity?
Darlington Nagbe and Artur are the go-to central midfield pairing, but Artur’s lingering hip issue means that his minutes are going to fluctuate match-to-match. Does Porter take a risk with two weeks off following this game? In his place would likely be youngster Isaiah Parente. Liam Fraser won’t play since he came over from Toronto and Perry Kitchen is just returning from injury.
At the two fullback positions, the likely candidates are Harrison Afful, Saad Abdul-Salaam and Waylon Francis. At the one practice portion open to the media this week, Francis was the only Crew player not seem on the field, but that doesn’t mean he won’t be available. Milton Valenzuela was part of the limited time that Massive Report could see practice, but is still listed out for this game.
Elsewhere, Porter last went with center back Vito Wormgoor in that 2-0 loss on May 12, to Toronto. Josh Williams and Jonathan Mensah have had all the minutes in the past two matches for the Black & Gold.
With this information in mind, we want you to choose who starts on Saturday. We’ll share your choices, alongside picks from a Massive Report contributor, before the afternoon kickoff.