It goes without saying that every game the Columbus Crew plays in the future has huge playoff implications. The Black & Golds currently sit 10th in the Eastern Conference, three points off last in the MLS Cup playoffs. But every team between Columbus and the best team in the Conference has at least one game in hand. So the crew looks just outside of the playoff picture, but if the team doesn’t stay diligent and some other games don’t go their way, the situation becomes dire.
Columbus will travel to Gillette Stadium to take on the New England Revolution, leader of the Eastern Conference, on Saturday. Head coach Caleb Porter’s team made almost every game difficult, but the Revs really fell apart from the rest of the conference.
New England come on a two-game winning streak, while the Black & Gold finally found a victory over the New York Red Bulls on Tuesday. Porter’s Swiss Army Knife Pedro Santos came out with a concussion early Tuesday night and is out for Saturday’s game. He goes to the constantly revolving door that is the list of injured people. The lack of consistency can’t be blamed for all of the crew’s woes, but it certainly hasn’t helped.
We asked supporters to predict the lineup against the Revs. Here’s how you voted to line up against the Bruce Arena squad:
The names on the Supporters’ XI are very familiar. What is interesting are the names that are starting to compete for the starting positions. Eloy Room, Jonathan Mensah, and Josh Williams are all overwhelming choices, as are Darlington Nagbe and Lucas Zelarayan. But Alexandru Matan, who just helped create the team’s winning goal on Tuesday, almost caught up with Derrick Etienne for the attacking midfielder position.
Goal scorer Miguel Berry withdrew nearly a quarter of the strikers’ votes at roster pillar Gyasi Zardes. There is certainly a movement to start and present the bright young offensive weapons in the future. Berry became a fan favorite in his many quality moments during an otherwise rather bleak season for the crew.
How Massive Report predicts the crew will line up tonight:
There is a change between the Supporters XI and the Predicted XI and that is Matan. Porter added Matan and changed the roster in the second half of the game on Tuesday, and the difference was undeniable. Not only did Matan single-handedly bring the ball into the penalty area to create the tying goal, but his speed also makes him incredibly dangerous.
Porter hasn’t shown much desire to make any long-term changes in the lineup, but the additional striker has definitely given the Black & Golds the spark they need. Could a 4-1-3-2 with Berry or Bradley Wright-Phillips be on the way? Maybe, but potentially not against such a formidable foe in such a rapid turnaround.