Picture Credits: Columbus Crew
Saturday night's matchup with Atlanta United is once again as close to a must-win as it gets this early in the season. The Black and Gold currently sit in 12th in the East, three points out of a playoff spot. Columbus is too talented to be missing the playoffs, and something needs to change. Head coach Caleb Porter has until the summer to turn things around. If results continue the way they are, his seat is going to heat up, and fast.
How To Watch
TV: Bally Sports Ohio, ESPN+
Time: 7:00 p.m.
Where: Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, Georgia
Last Time Out
Where to even begin. The last time the Crew played, they were supposed to kick off their game at 3:30 p.m. After multiple weather delays and multiple warm-ups, the Crew and LAFC finally kicked off at 8:00 p.m, a mere four and a half hours after the original kick-off time. Columbus played the first half very well. They were the better team, had the better chances, and seemed just to outplay LAFC. Then, LAFC brought in reinforcement. At half-time, Carlos Vela and Brian Rodriguez both came on for LAFC and completely changed the game's complexion. Vela got a goal, and LAFC would leave with all three points after a 2-0 victory.
Atlanta has not had a win since May 7th after a 4-1 win over the Chicago Fire, but they do have consecutive MLS draws. They drew against Nashville SC last week, 2-2, after Dom Dwyer scored in the 88th minute to level the score and rescue a point.
OUT: Kevin Molino, (R Knee), Marlon Hairston (R Thigh)
QUESTIONABLE: Lucas Zelerayan (L Thigh)
OUT: M. Robinson (Achilles), B. Guzan (Achilles), D. Castanheira (Achilles), O. Alonso (Knee), M. Chol (Leg)
QUESTIONABLE: J. Martinez (Knee), C. Wiley (Lower Body), S. Sosa (Lower Body)
Projected Starting XI
Keys To The Match
Clean Up Mistakes
The theme of the past season and a half have been mistakes. Columbus is pretty solid defensively, and it seems that they concede when a mistake is made. Mistakes have been the Black and Golds kryptonite, and it is something that they need to clean up. If they can play mistake-free against Atlanta United, at least in the defensive third, that would give Columbus a good shot to win.
Find A Way To Score
Columbus has been shut-out in five games this season. They have only played 12 games. That is not a good ratio. This team needs to find ways to score. Obviously, the front three are not getting the job done, so someone has to step up in order to get the season back on track. With Lucas Zelerayan more than likely missing this game, it will be up to the likes of Miguel Berry, Derrick Etienne and Yaw Yeboah to score for the Crew.
Listen, I would love to see the Black and Gold get a win. But, let's face it, the Crew are not good on the road, having a total of four points this season on the road. It has been something that has plagued Porter in Portland and now Columbus, and it continues to be a problem. Either way, Columbus MUST get something from this game. A win would be delightful, but a draw is more, shall a say, appropriate. I predict a 1-1 draw, and Columbus will go into the international break with some sort of momentum.