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Know Thy Enemy: Revolution vs Crew and the Shield Stretch Run Edition

The Revolution have already started off their final ten matches of the season with a 2-1 home win against NYCFC and look to add to their already impressive season haul.

Syndication: USA TODAY Adam Cairns via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Several months ago the New England Revolution and Columbus Crew played to a 2-2 draw to open Lower dot com Field. Tajon Buchanan scored a banger, Andrew Farrell and Matt Turner had a rather unfortunate own goal, but the Revs in particular moved on.

Columbus however, has issues, culminating in a six game losing streak and current 2-8 stretch that has them below the playoff line.

In contrast, the Revs have a different focus and that is winning the Supporter’s Shield:

In their last nine matches, the Revs play 5 home games and have road trips to Chicago and Montreal. The hardest matches will be a midweek home game to Orlando between those two road games above and a double road trip week in October to DC United and Orlando as the Revs finish October with a 4-game slate played over 12 days. But prior to those games the Revs will have about two weeks off for the international break, and as we’ve seen all year, it’s just another chance for Bruce Arena to show off his roster/team management skills.

Gustavo Bou hasn’t played in two weeks, Matt Turner, Tajon Buchanan, Henry Kessler and Adam Buksa have all missed time due to international call-ups...oh, and some guy named Carles Gil who doesn’t play right midfield and is criminally underrated in FIFA22 missed over a month with injury.

One of the reasons the Revs find themselves atop the East (aside from Carles Gil’s early season brilliance) and in particular a staggering 25 points ahead of the defending MLS Champs, is their ability to get results despite the significant squad rotation due to injuries, call ups, etc. Columbus in particular just never seemed to be healthy this year but I still find it very hard to count out a team with Darlington Nagbe and Lucas Zelarayan as the spine in the midfield.

But the Revs have a job to do and right now that means piling on more misery to a Crew season that really does not need any more of that. As always we chat with our good friends over at Massive Report and Orri Benatar about happier times in Crew-land and perhaps the chance to sneak into the playoffs.

As always you can read my answers to Orri’s questions over on their site.

TBM: When we last talked before the new stadium opening and subsequent 2-2 draw, there was hope that the Crew could turn their 2021 campaign around. Then August happened, how dire are things right now in Columbus?

OB: For the most part it has been pretty dire. Since that dramatic summer afternoon in July, the Crew has won just four games. They have played 14. Injuries and team confidence weren’t getting any better during a six-game losing streak that was embellished after blowing a lead against the Seattle Sounders. But, hope is still there for a playoff berth after a succesful comeback at home against the Red Bulls on Thursday. Caleb Porter wants to clone that second-half and if he can, Columbus might be onto a turnaround.

TBM: Miguel Barry is having himself a month, four goals in as many games but three crucial ones off the bench late in the Crew’s most recent two wins. How important has the youngster been for Columbus in the past few weeks?

OB: Immense. Berry has become a Columbus Crew folk hero and has more goals this season than Gyasi Zardes. No one saw that coming with many expecting Berry to spend the bulk of 2021 with the San Diego Loyal in USL. Due to injuries, Berry has spent his time training with the Crew and he has taken advantage of his opportunity when he plays. The Black & Gold has its super sub in the 23-year old Berry who could have another clutch goal or two up his sleeve.

TBM: There’s not really a question here, but we feel obligated to let you state a case for Lucas Zelarayan as MLS MVP or Best XI or something cause he is good at soccer.

OB: For Zelarayan, I’d say MLS has a case to put him in the best XI. His second season in Columbus has been challenging with the league’s defenses targeting him in open play, effectively causing him to have less of an open-field impact. However, he still has come up with big performances in the most crucial games. His free kicks are also pretty good and historic this season. He is one of the three best midfielders in Major League Soccer.

Lineup/Injuries/Predictions/Etc.

XI: Room; Afful, Mensah, Williams, Abdul-Salaam, Hairston, Fraser, Diaz, Nagbe, Etienne, ZardesPrediction:

Revs 3-1 win over Columbus