The Columbus Crew’s nine-match unbeaten streak came to an end on Wednesday night in a rather disappointing 2-1 loss at Lower.com Field to CF Montreal. The Crew led for most of the game, but gave up two goals in the final minutes to come away with nothing.
Wednesday’s match, which followed the lackluster 0-0 draw against the New England Revolution, showed that the Black & Gold still have a long way to go as far as home form is concerned if they want to be taken seriously in the Eastern Conference. Now things only get more difficult.
In what is truly unfortunate timing, Columbus has to try and bounce back against defending MLS Cup champions, New York City FC. NYCFC has not skipped a beat from last season, currently sitting in second place in the Eastern Conference on 42 points, 12 points more than the Crew. However, if supporters are looking for a silver lining, this is as good a time as ever to play the Pigeons, who they look to fill the void left by 2021 Golden Boot winner Valentin Castellanos, who was recently loaned to La Liga side Girona.
The clean injury report was short-lived and only lasted one match, as center back Josh Williams was listed as questionable with an illness on the most recent report. According to head coach Caleb Porter during his Friday media availability, Williams had to be taken out of Wednesday night’s match at halftime, as he was experiencing flu-like symptoms that left him unable to continue. Williams’ flu-like symptoms have continued and he was unable to participate in both Thursday and Friday training.
With all of the above to consider, here is who Massive Report believes will start for the Black & Gold on Saturday night:
As stated above, it is unlikely Williams will feature in Saturday night’s match as he did not train either Thursday or Friday. Milos Degenek will slide in to take Williams’ center back spot, as he is the next best option, even after struggling in relief against Montreal.
The other change from Wednesday night is on the right wing. While Luis Diaz has shown improvements over the last few weeks and did not play particularly poorly against Montreal, there were moments Wednesday night in which Diaz’s lack of technical ability appeared to hold Cucho Hernandez and Lucas Zelarayan back. On multiple occasions, both Hernandez and Zelarayan made great runs into pockets of space, only to be disappointed as Diaz lacked the skill to get them the ball.
On the other side of that coin, it can be argued that the only reason the two Columbus stars had the space to make those runs is due to the Costa Rican’s pace extending the field. With all of the above being said, Porter is likely to make the change to Yaw Yeboah for Saturday night to see if a player with a bit more technical ability will help to unlock the Crew playmakers.
Lastly, on Friday, Porter did not give much away as to if center midfielder Artur is ready for starting minutes as he works back from a right lower leg injury. The Black & Gold boss rained praises down on how the Brazilian midfielder performed on Wednesday night, but it would still be surprising to see Artur’s name in the starting 11 after playing only 17 minutes against Montreal.