Matt Ralph, Brotherly Game: How have things been going the last few weeks for the Crew? I saw they had another scoreless draw and were shut out on a couple other occasions.
Patrick Murphy, Massive Report: Yeah, it has been a weird start to the season for this team. The Black & Gold started the year so hot, going unbeaten in the first four games. Then Crew SC lost three in a row and tied the fourth game of that stretch. What was weird about the four games without a win was Columbus dominated opponents. Against the Chicago Fire and D.C. United, the Black & Gold allowed one shot on goal in each match (it went in) and peppered the opposition goal (but couldn’t score). It was a very strange stretch.
Two weekends ago, Columbus got a win over the San Jose Earthquakes and then went out to Seattle and got a road point against the Sounders after playing down a man for 75 minutes. It looks like the team is righting the ship, but this game (and Saturday’s against the Fire) will go a long way in telling if they have.
Has there been much of a change to the team the Union will see on Wednesday night from the one that played to a scoreless draw at Talen Energy Stadium back in March?
Not a ton. The biggest change will be no Pedro Santos on the wings. He received the red card against the Sounders and will miss this game. Considering he’s been a pretty steady part of the lineup since he arrived last summer, it will be interesting to see how Gregg Berhalter replaces him. The only other difference may be the return of Mike Grella. The former Red Bowl midfielder is just back from a knee injury that kept him out almost a year. He made his return against the Earthquakes two weeks ago and scored the game winner. Berhalter says he’s not ready to start, but he could be a threat off the bench.
Other than that, the only changes we might see is due to squad rotation. Berhalter rested center back Jonathan Mensah, right back Harrison Afful and central midfielder Artur over the weekend, so I expect them all back. But who comes out to rest this time? That is an interesting question.
Given the way the Union have played this season (and pretty much forever on the road), it seems like a hard sell to get fans excited about this midweek game in Columbus. I’m more excited myself about the first round Open Cup match between Reading United and Christos FC. Why should fans of either team tune into this game?
Ha, that’s a good question. Given everything going on with the potential relocation stuff here and the way you explained the lack of interest on the Philly side, this game may not be MLS’s highest viewed match.
With that said, I expect an entertaining game. Crew SC at home is typically fun to watch. The team creates chances and normally scores a decent number of goals. For some reason, the Union has been a tough matchup for the Black & Gold over the years, so this should stay interesting and could provide a player like David Accam an opportunity on the counter attack.
Any injury updates to report? How about a lineup prediction?
Health is pretty good here. The lineup is tough to call because I do think there will be some rotation, but here’s my best guess:
Harrison Afful-Jonathan Mensah-Lalas Abubakar-Hector Jimenenz
Cristian Martinez-Wil Trapp-Artur-Niko Hansen