On July 30, the Columbus Crew traveled to North Carolina to take on Charlotte FC. The match was weird, to say the least. After a full day of nice weather, storms rolled in as the gates opened to fans. Storms delayed warmups and after 10:00 p.m. ET, the match finally kicked off. After 15:57 minutes, it was delayed again, with Major League Soccer postponing the game until Wednesday, Oct. 4.
So how exactly will Wednesday’s match work? What happens with a postponed game in MLS?
There are a lot of factors to be aware of coming into this game. So here is a full breakdown of what to know about this postponed contest.
Before looking at the rosters for the game, a reminder that Wednesday’s match will start at 15:58, with both sides still at 0-0. According to MLS policy on match delays, the game restarts at the same spot where the delay occurred. Charlotte FC will start with a goal kick to begin on Wednesday.
Also, yellow cards or red cards sustained in Wednesday’s recommencement still count as if they happened on that day, not retroactive to July. So, if a player receives a red card or accumulates his fifth yellow card, that player misses Sunday’s Decision Day. Fortunately for the Crew, no one on the roster is in jeopardy of accumulating his fifth yellow. Also, neither team earned a card at the start of this match.
The rest of the rules are where things get a little tricky.
Looking at the rosters, there’s not much that can be altered for either team. According to MLS regulations, the original July 30 matchday rosters are frozen and can not be manipulated, with a few exceptions.
Head coach Caleb Porter confirmed that captain Jonathan Mensah isn’t ready to come back from his recent injury, thus ruling the Ghanaian out for the recommencement of the match. This means the Black & Gold will have to replace the center back, likely with Milos Degenek, who has started in his place recently and was on the bench back in July.
Columbus can not bring another player to the bench to fill in for Degenek, or whoever steps in, meaning the Crew will have six field players and one backup goalkeeper available as substitutes.
Additionally, the Black & Gold will also be without central midfielder Artur, who was questionable at the time of the original match and did not make the matchday roster.
There are positives, however. The replacement of Mensah won’t count towards the usual five substitutions allowed throughout three match windows. So, the six field players the Black & Gold can dress on Wednesday is still more than enough for a normal substitution pattern.
While it’s not rule-related, Cucho Hernandez served his one-game suspension of offensive language on Saturday and is available for this match.
Charlotte is a different story.
The home team’s situation is difficult, to say the least. Charlotte will be without a pair of starting center backs for this game.
Uruguayan National Team player Guzman Carujo is out after sustaining a season-ending ACL injury in August. Also, defender Christian Fuchs won’t be available, finishing out the match suspension that made him miss the July 30 attempted match.
Elsewhere, midfielder Ben Bender, who started in July, is listed as questionable along with fullback Jaylin Lindsey, who was on the bench.
Goalkeeper Kristijan Kahlina, who started the match originally, is also questionable for the restart of the match after sustaining an injury prior to Charlotte’s 4-0 victory against the Philadelphia Union. Kahlina was not on the team’s injury report as of this publishing and he trained with Charlotte. His inclusion on the team sheet is up in the air for Wednesday.
As it stands, Charlotte FC could be down to 15 players.
Overall, the implications for this match are huge for both sides. Columbus and Charlotte are the only two remaining teams in the Eastern Conference below the MLS Cup playoff line to still have a chance at earning a place in the postseason.
Charlotte is on 41 points, sitting in ninth place in the East. Due to the team’s 13 wins, the first tiebreaker for seeding in the conference standings, they’re level with both Inter Miami CF and Orlando City SC in that department. If results go their way, and Charlotte can win or get four points from their final two matches, the expansion team could make the playoffs in its inaugural season.
The Crew is in a dead heat with Inter Miami and Orlando The Black & Gold have no chance of catching up to either team’s 13 wins, with 12 being the maximum Columbus can achieve. If the Crew wins both of the team’s remaining matches, the Black & Gold are in the MLS Cup playoffs.
Regardless of the playoff scenarios and obstacles needing overcame, there’s something both teams and supporters can celebrate about Wednesday’s match — there’s a zero percent chance of rain in the forecast.