It’s been a difficult week for the Columbus Crew. After a 4-1 loss last week to New York City FC, the Black & Gold followed that performance with a 4-2 defeat against D.C. United, the team’s first loss at Lower.com Field. Mistakes on defense gave both Eastern Conference sides a big advantage
On Saturday, the Crew welcomes Atlanta United to Columbus. With players now back from Gold Cup duty, it’s time to make your picks on who should start for the Black & Gold. Here are some items to consider.
On the backline, it’s still Jonathan Mensah, Aboubacar Keita and Grant Lillard as the healthy options at center back. Mensah and Keita have started every match since Vito Wormgoor rejoined the injury list with a thigh injury. Wormgoor and veteran Josh Williams are both listed as questionable for Saturday, as they were Wednesday, but neither made the bench against United.
In the midfield, Liam Fraser has seen starting minutes following the injury to Artur and played nine minutes off the bench in Wednesday’s loss to D.C. Marlon Hairston started alongside Nagbe in an offensive performance that had trouble finding a breakthrough, instead opting to pass around the box instead of into it.
At forward, Erik Hurtado got the start against United, but was substituted early in the second half for Gyasi Zardes with the Crew down 3-0. Zardes getting the start on Saturday could help this struggling Columbus attack. But after traveling from the Gold Cup Final in Las Vegas on Sunday, to playing about half the match Wednesday and then start Saturday may be a difficult ask.
In the offensive half of the field, midfielder Kevin Molino scored for the Crew on Wednesday, helping a comeback that fell short. Molino played alongside Derrick Etienne Jr. at the winger positions, but both were subbed for Alexandru Matan and Luis Diaz, leaving it up in the air on who Porter will prefer on Saturday.
Molino has received a bulk of the starting minutes, but it’s the other role that has questions with Pedro Santos sitting back as a fullback. Does Porter bring fullback Harrison Afful back in to start and move Santos back up into the offensive third?
These are only a few questions to consider this week as you decide who should start for the Crew. Make your selections and a contributor from Massive Report will make a prediction of their own in this week’s Supporters’ XI.