On Friday against New York City FC, Massive Report correctly predicted the starting lineup, but it was the only victory on the evening. For this midweek matchup against fellow Major League Soccer originals D.C. United, Massive Report asked you to choose who should start and you delivered.
As is the standard in 2021, as the Columbus Crew returns a player, the team loses someone else. Crew and U.S. Men’s National Team forward Gyasi Zardes is back with the club after helping secure a Gold Cup victory but now midfielder Perry Kitchen was added to the injury list and Artur received a timetable of 10-12 weeks before returning following surgery.
With those storylines in mind, here’s who the supporters want to see start against United.
After Columbus’ 4-1 loss last Friday, it’s easy to put anyone on the chopping block for seeing what depth can do in their place. The Supporters’ XI has a little bit of that.
In goal, Eloy Room was the fans’ pick, but in a rare turn of events, he didn’t receive all the selections. Goalkeeper Evan Bush received support, but not enough to dethrone Room from his position.
On defense, Crew veteran Harrison Afful is nowhere to be seen, only receiving 18.9 percent of supporters’ votes. Instead, Pedro Santos and Saad Abdul-Salaam occupy the fullback positions, a role Santos has played frequently this summer, while Abdul-Salaam is cementing his spot in the hearts of Crew fans as a top pick Afful.
At center back are Josh Williams and Jonathan Mensah. Mensah received 100 percent of the votes and Williams wasn’t far behind. Williams is still listed as questionable, which leaves open the possibility that he gets back on the field for the first time since June.
With Kitchen out, the supporters selected Marlon Hairston to play alongside Darlington Nagbe. The Hairston and Nagbe duo has strong performances this season and hope to have another against a United side that’s young but determined.
In the offensive attack are Lucas Zelarayan, Kevin Molino, Luis Diaz and Bradley Wright-Phillips. The only difference this week from the last in the Supporters’ XI is Diaz’s selection over Alexandru Matan.
Let’s see who Massive Report predicts will start tonight’s match.
Maybe this is wishful thinking, but Derrick Etienne Jr. and Diaz were a lethal combination down the sideline in the Crew’s first match of the season, an away-leg 4-0 beatdown of Real Esteli on April 8. With a crowded offensive attacking group, why not give Etienne the chance to help the offense in a more field-stretching role at fullback?
Will it happen? Not likely. Would it give the Crew a chance to break out of a offensive slump? Maybe.
Williams also makes the prediction squad, even if it isn’t for 90 minutes. Give Williams 45 minutes to find his match legs again at home in Lower.com Field.
The only other difference is at striker. While Zardes may have played a full matc and extra time on Sunday in Las Vegas against Mexico, he needs to see the field in his first match back to the club. It may not be in a starting role, but Zardes must get a raucous home supporter response for helping the U.S. Men’s National Team win. Also, his work on and off the ball will be a welcome addition back to Columbus.
We’ll see tonight who gets the nod against D.C. United at Lower.com Field.