The Columbus Crew have had a tough week ahead. After the team’s 1-0 loss to the Chicago Fire on Sunday, the Crew had no time to dwell on the offensively lacking performance with a quick turnaround. On Wednesday night, the Black & Gold descend on Harrison, New Jersey to face the New York Red Bulls, looking to end what is now a four-game losing streak.
In preparation for that match, Massive Report asked who you thought should start the match against New York. Here’s how you responded:
In the loss to the Fire, head coach Caleb Porter tried to freshen up the offense, putting in midfielders Derrick Etienne Jr. and Pedro Santos as wingers. After the lackluster offensive night, supporters chose to sit both players. Instead of putting Santos in at fullback, he was left off out of supporters’ lineups completely.
In their place on the wings are midfielders Kevin Molino and Alexandru Matan. Molino’s started consistently since returning from Gold Cup duty but had just 21 minutes as a substitute last weekend. Defensives haven’t given Molino space as of late, causing performances that haven’t lived up to the excitement of his time with Minnesota United. He got the vote of the supporters, however, alongside the Romanian, Matan, who’s still looking for his first MLS goal.
On defense, Vito Wormgoor received the starting nod after not playing since July 9. Center back has been a revolving door due to injuries to not only Wormgoor but also veteran Josh Williams. Porter moved Williams this week from the questionable list to out, so supporters still lay in wait for the first-team pairing of Jonathan Mensah and Williams.
At fullbacks, Saad Abdul-Salaam and Harrison Afful fill the roles for the supporters. Afful didn’t play in Sunday’s loss, but Abdul-Salaam featured and played the entire contest opposite Waylon Francis at right back.
Now, let’s see who Massive Report predicts for tonight’s match.
Only two differences separate the predicted starting lineups for this game against the Red Bulls. The first is at center back where Aboubacar Keita got the selection over Wormgoor. Although the recent defensive form has been tough for Columbus, giving up one goal Sunday was a vast improvement. Keeping Keita and Mensah together makes sense as it allows Keita to see if he can string together consistent starts. Switching the center back pairing match after match isn’t going to yield results the Crew needs to make the MLS Cup playoffs.
In the attacking midfield, Santos and Molino are on each side of midfielder Lucas Zelarayan. Santos, in his natural position, alongside Molino, who was meant to fill the Crew’s rotating winger role from 2019 and 2020.
With recent results, it’ll be tough to justify going with a lineup full of bench players, even with the Seattle Sounders coming to Lower.com Field on Saturday. Columbus needs positive results in both matches and points are starting to become a must.