Following a whirlwind of a Saturday night at Charlotte FC, the Columbus Crew returns home to hot and sunny Central Ohio to host CF Montreal at Lower.com Field on Wednesday. The Black & Gold should enter Wednesday night’s match against Montreal feeling well-rested after playing only 16 minutes in the Queen City before the game was ultimately postponed due to inclement weather.
Looking ahead last week, it seemed that Wednesday night’s match would be a prime candidate for substantial rotation, as it would be the second of three matches to be played in only eight days. However, coming off what is effectively a 10-day break, Columbus should be fresh and a cast of familiar faces should be in the cards.
Wednesday’s opponent was not as lucky, as Montreal played its match to completion at home against New York City FC over the weekend, which ended in a 0-0 draw. Montreal, coming off short rest, poses an excellent opportunity for the Crew to take three points from a team that currently sits six points ahead in the Eastern Conference standings, having played one more match than the Black & Gold.
To make matters even better, midfielder Artur, the lone injured player entering the match against Charlotte, is no longer on the injury report. In fact, with Artur now recovered from his right lower leg injury, it is the first time all season that Columbus’ injury report did not contain a single player.
With a full first-choice squad available for selection, here is who Massive Report believes will start for the Crew in Wednesday night’s Eastern Conference clash:
Despite Artur now being fully available for selection, do not expect him to return to the starting 11, at least not yet. Heading into the Charlotte match, head coach Caleb Porter stated that the Brazilian was not yet ready for major minutes, and seeing as Artur never had the opportunity to play on Saturday, it is likely he is still not ready for starting minutes. Although he will not start, it's possible Artur will get 20 to 30 minutes of action to end the match as he works to regain game fitness.
Beyond the midfield, it feels as though all other positions are spoken for. Porter seems to be most comfortable with the center back pairing of Josh Williams and Jonathan Mensah, despite Milos Degenek being fully fit and playing well in limited minutes. Similarly, it feels Porter is content to ride Luis Diaz on the right wing for the time being, as the young Costa Rican has shown much-needed progress in his game after appearing to have plateaued over the last couple of seasons.
For what it’s worth, this Black & Gold starting 11 looked effective in Charlotte, albeit for only 16 minutes. Expect Wednesday night’s starting group to look the same as it did Saturday night, as there is no reason for rotation for this incredibly important match in the MLS Cup playoff race.