After an emotional victory against the Chicago Fire where the Columbus Crew said goodbye to historic Crew Stadium, the Black & Gold lost in a defensive rock fight midweek in Philadelphia, 1-0. After a few day's rest, head coach Caleb Porter and his side head to Texas to take on Austin FC. Supporters naturally have had this game circled from the moment it was announced and Porter admitted that this game will, in fact, mean more. But after two tough games and still several key players out, how will he shuffle his lineup to stay fresh?
Playmaker Lucas Zelarayan got the first half off in the mid-week match but put in the final 45-plus minutes on Wednesday. Joining him in the second half was the return of Milton Valenzuela. The Crew’s regular left back had been out several games with a thigh injury, leaving a fairly significant hole. Winger Pedro Santos dropped back in the last few games and filled in at left back admirably, but was somewhat of a defensive liability on Wednesday. With Valenzuela potentially getting regular time back, Santos can join the midfield, or even get some much-deserved rest.
Additionally, big-name signing Kevin Molino got the start on Wednesday, so Porter’s midfield options increased. More depth is beginning to return, but with this being the third game in eight days, some legs may be showing some wear and tear.
That being said, the Crew will have six days off to prepare for the team’s monumental showdown against the New England Revolution to open Lower.com Field.
This is the first time the Black & Gold face off against Austin, but there is some significant history already. With a little more time to rest and more players returning from unavailability, who would you select to face Austin FC?
We want you to choose who starts this weekend. We’ll share your choices alongside picks from a Massive Report contributor before the Sunday evening kickoff.