It goes without saying that every game the Columbus Crew play going forward has huge playoff implications. The Black & Gold currently sit 10th place in the Eastern Conference, three points out of the last MLS Cup playoff position. But every team in between Columbus and the top team in the Conference has at least one game in hand. So, the Crew looks just outside the playoff picture, but if the team doesn’t remain diligent and if some other games don’t go their way, the situation becomes dire.
Columbus heads to Gillette Stadium to take on the Eastern Conference-leading New England Revolution on Saturday. Head coach Caleb Porter’s side has made almost every game seem challenging, but the Revs have really separated themselves from the rest of the conference.
New England comes in on a two-game winning streak, while the Black & Gold finally found a win against the New York Red Bulls on Tuesday. Porter’s Swiss Army Knife, Pedro Santos went out with a concussion early Tuesday night and remains out for Saturday’s game. He joins the ever-revolving door that is the injury list. Lack of consistency cannot be blamed for all of the Crew’s woes, but it certainly hasn’t helped.
We asked the supporters to predict the lineup for the game against the Revs. Here is how you voted to line up against Bruce Arena’s side:
The names on the Supporters’ XI are very familiar. What is interesting are the names who are starting to contend for starting positions. Eloy Room, Jonathan Mensah and Josh Williams are all overwhelming choices, as were Darlington Nagbe and Lucas Zelarayan. But Alexandru Matan, fresh off of helping create the Crew’s winning goal on Tuesday nearly caught Derrick Etienne for the attacking midfield position.
The scorer of that goal, Miguel Berry, took nearly a quarter of the striker votes off of lineup mainstay Gyasi Zardes. There is definitely a movement to start and feature the bright young offensive weapons going forward. Berry has become quite the fan favorite in his several quality moments in an otherwise fairly dreary season for the Crew.
How does Massive Report Predict the Crew will lineup tonight:
There is one change between the Supporters’ XI and the Predicted XI and that is Matan. Porter added Matan and changed the lineup in the second half of the game on Tuesday, and the difference was undeniable. Not only did Matan single-handedly bring the ball into the penalty box to create the tying goal, but his speed also makes him incredibly dangerous.
Porter has not shown much inclination to make long-term changes in formation, but the additional attacker definitely gave the Black & Gold the spark they needed. Could a 4-1-3-2 featuring Berry or Bradley Wright-Phillips be forthcoming? Possibly, but potentially not against such a formidable foe in such a quick turnaround.