The MLS regular season is winding down faster than we think. Columbus has just four games remaining.
First up: Philadelphia
(If you must know, the rest are Toronto and Sporting KC at home plus a MASSIVE trip to DC towards the end of October)
The Union are a hot mess right now and thus, a fantastic opponent as the Crew NEED three points this weekend. A tie is simply not good enough. Rich Balchan is finally back and could make his return in the reserve match this weekend. Carlos Mendes practiced, but isn’t quite ready. Dilly Duka seems to have cleared his head and should be ready to go. Things are finally starting to come together for Columbus. If you can’t get up for this game then there’s really no hope the rest of the way.
Saturday night will tell us a lot about this Crew squad. It will also tell us a lot about Crew fans. Ohio State has a game against Michigan State, albeit on the road. Crew fans have been turning out pretty well lately and Saturday’s match is a must win for playoff hopes, but I wonder how many will be willing to make the trip to the fairgrounds on the heels of an Ohio State game.
Robert Warzycha has said he prefers Josh Williams over Sasha Vukovic. Last week I stated my desire to see Vukovic get the start, but now it doesn’t look like I’ll get my wish. It sure would be nice if Rich Balchan was 100% ready to go! Not to mention Carlos Mendes, who has to be better than Julius James at this point.
So what should Saturday night’s lineup look like? Here’s what I think…
Miranda – Marshall – James – Williams
Higuain – Arrieta
If Federico Higuain is going to be effective, he needs to be as far up as possible; even if it’s in an unnatural position like striker. Chris Birchall hasn’t played since the loss to New England. Before that he featured regularly during the August hot streak. I think he deserves a shot at the holding midfield spot and that would allow Milo to be more involved in the attack.
I believe in this team and Saturday night is the kind of game that this team has been able win ever since Arrieta and Higuain arrived. I see a victory in the future and trip to the playoffs down the road!
Prediction: Columbus 2-1 Philadelphia