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Predicted XI: Charlotte FC

The Crew should have its first-choice 11 available for Saturday night’s match in Charlotte.

MLS: Charlotte FC at Columbus Crew SC Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Columbus Crew will look to extend its nine-match unbeaten streak Saturday night in the other Queen City. The Black & Gold travel to take on Charlotte FC for their first ever match at Bank of America Stadium.

Saturday’s opponent is tied for the second most home wins in all of Major League Soccer with seven. Bank of American Stadium has proven to be an incredibly hard venue for opponents to play in, with the most recent victim being Chelsea FC of the English Premier League, who Charlotte defeated in penalty kicks in a friendly a week and a half ago.

Columbus comes to town on Saturday, hoping to continue with the team’s excellent road form, having taken 11 points from its last five matches away from Field. This run of results includes three wins and three performances with two or more goals scored.

As has been the story for the last two matches, the Crew continues to find a rhythm with new signing Cucho Hernandez in the starting 11. The last two matches have gone quite differently, as the Black & Gold found the back of the net twice in a win against FC Cincinnati, but failed to convert any big chances in a draw versus the New England Revolution last week.

Saturday night, head coach Caleb Porter will have what some may consider his full first-choice starting 11 at his disposal, with right back Steven Moreira returning from a one-game yellow card accumulation suspension. The lone name on the injury report is Artur, who remains questionable with a right lower leg injury.

With all of the above to consider, here is who Massive Report believes will start for Columbus in its first ever trip to Charlotte:

Porter is likely at least a couple of matches away from having to make a tough decision in the midfield, as Artur, according to Porter in his media availability on both Wednesday and Friday, is looking better and better but is not ready for major minutes yet as he returns from a long injury.

That aforementioned tough decision of course is whether to start Artur or young spark plug Aidan Morris alongside Darlington Nagbe. A legitimate argument can be made for both Artur and Morris, but it can be said that Morris has taken full advantage of his minutes with the Brazilian midfielder sidelined. The young American has provided much-needed aggressive energy to the Crew midfield, and it doesn’t hurt that the Black & Gold have yet to lose a single regular season match in 2022 when Morris is in the starting 11.

Beyond the battle in the midfield, when everyone is healthy, nine of the other 10 field player positions appear to be locked down at the moment, with the lone exception being the right wing.

In a perfect world, the right wing position would have been addressed during this transfer window, as it has been a position of great inconsistency. However, it does not appear that a new winger will be arriving in Columbus any time soon, so the Crew will have to make due for now. Over the last four matches, Luis Diaz has played well, showing that there is more to his game than his blistering pace. For that reason, expect Porter to start the Costa Rican once again, as it feels he has earned that spot for now.