For the third match in a row, the Columbus Crew failed to score a goal on Saturday in a 2-0 loss to Orlando City SC. To make matters worse, two of those three matches were at home.
Whether warranted or not, panic has begun to set in amongst Black & Gold supporters, as many believe that something needs to change, whether it is player selection, tactics or the manager himself. Keeping all of that negativity in mind, Tuesday’s third-round U.S. Open Cup matchup against Detroit City FC could have come at a better time.
Detroit City currently sits fourth in the USL Championship Eastern Conference standings through six matches. Le Rouge comes into Tuesday night’s match riding excellent form, undefeated in the team’s last six matches in all competitions, only surrendering two goals over that span. However, regardless of form, USL Championship (the second league on the U.S. Soccer) competition does not rival the quality in Major League Soccer. The Crew should be (and is) favorites and this game is an opportunity to get back to winning ways.
It is anticipated that there will be heavy squad rotation from the match Saturday against Orlando City. In his Monday media availability, head Caleb Porter stated that there will be a lot of new names in the lineup and that these players will have an opportunity to force their way into the first-choice lineup when the team returns to MLS action.
With all the above to consider, let’s look at who Porter will select in his starting 11:
Crew supporters will have a one-match reprieve from the Miguel Berry/Gyasi Zardes debate that has been beaten like a dead horse through the first month and a half of the season. Given the quick turnaround, and Porter’s plan to rotate the squad, Erik Hurtado naturally falls into place as the next man on the depth chart up top. Porter will likely start Hurtado, but Berry should be receiving the nod, as he needs to see the ball go into the back of the net, no matter the competition.
Hurtado, who has yet to play a minute of MLS action this season, received his first bit of playing time in the 2022 campaign this past Friday as he came on as a second half substitute for Crew 2. In his 45 minutes of play, Hurtado looked fit and was a stand out, playing on the right win, as he scored a goal to secure Crew 2’s win over Orlando City B.
Alexandru Matan will have a standout performance as he will be the one pulling the strings on Tuesday night. Matan has made five appearances for the first team but still has not had an opportunity to find his rhythm yet this season.
The Romanian has been brought on as a substitute in his five appearances, almost always in the final minutes of the match. However, in his lone appearance for Crew 2 against Philadelphia Union II he was given the space to grow into a game and make it his own. Matan was a standout, with the offense often running through the creative and tenacious youngster.
Lastly, Crew supporters should be happy to see Aidan Morris get an opportunity for a full match’s worth of first-team action. Porter has brought Morris back slowly since the promising midfielder's injury at the beginning of the 2021 season, as Morris has played only 28 minutes of first-team soccer over three appearances this season. This is likely due both to Morris’s injury and the fact that it is hard to break into a midfield with a healthy Darlington Nagbe and Artur.
Morris will look to show Crew supporters, and more importantly Porter, that he can return to his 2020 form and that he can be part of the solution for the Crew moving forward.