Adrian Heath - Minnesota United - looks pumped up and throws a fist during win vs. Orlando City
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Minnesota United vs. Columbus Crew SC | 2017 MLS Match Preview

Minnesota United vs. Columbus Crew SC
2017 MLS Regular Season
TCF Bank Stadium - Minneapolis
Tuesday, July 4 - 7 pm ET
WATCH: MLS LIVE

Is it time for Columbus Crew SC and their fans to start worrying – or, rather, really start worrying?

The same Crew SC side that lost just one of their first five matches to open the season have but two wins in their last seven MLS outings and are out of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup competition after getting bounced by USL upstart FC Cincinnati in the Fourth Round. They are currently clinging to the sixth and final playoff spot in the East (8W-10L-1D, 25pts), but the competition is right on their heels and with multiple games in hand.

Given the usual struggles that expansion teams experience, Crew SC's Independence Day match at Minnesota United would seem to be just what's needed to get them back on track. But as woeful as United have been on the road this year, going winless in 10 across all competitions so far (0W-8L-2D), they've been a decent 5-3-1 at home and are just four points below the playoff line in a weaker-than-usual Western Conference.

Also, the Loons will be playing on two extra days' rest. In other words, don't ring this one up as a much-needed road victory for Crew SC until the postmatch fireworks start going up.

Minnesota United

Things seemed to be looking up for Minnesota on May 7. They'd just beaten Sporting Kansas City 2-0 at home, their defense was tightening up with the acquisition of Sam Cronin and Marc Burch from Colorado, and respectability seemed at hand after a four-match run that saw them grab seven of a possible 12 points.

Minnesota have gone 2W-5L-1D since that heady afternoon when they took down the current West leaders, and they still haven't managed to string together consecutive victories as members of MLS. What makes matters worse is that they face an unprecedented personnel crisis between international call-ups and injuries, which could force Adrian Heath into a new creative lineup against Crew SC.

All that said, the Western Conference isn't a bad place to be for a team trying to get something going. If the Loons win on the Fourth, they'll leap from 10th to seventh in the standings. And if they do go on a run, now would be the time with their next five league matches coming at home, where they've won all their matches in their maiden MLS season.

  • Suspended: None
  • Suspended next yellow card: None
  • Int’l Duty: MF/FW Johan Venegas (Costa Rica), DF Francisco Calvo (Costa Rica), DF Jermaine Taylor (Jamaica)
  • Injury Report: OUT – MF Bernardo Anor (left lower leg injury), MF/DF Thomas de Villardi (left Achilles injury), DF Marc Burch (sports hernia surgery), DF Vadim Demidov (left knee injury), DF Brent Kallman (right knee injury), GK John Alvbage (right thumb); QUESTIONABLE: FW Abu Danladi (right thigh injury) 

Projected Starting XI (4-2-3-1, right to left): Bobby Shuttleworth – Kevin Venegas, Joseph Greenspan, Justin Davis, Jerome Thiesson – Ibson, Sam Cronin – Abu Danladi, Kevin Molino, Miguel Ibarra – Christian Ramirez

Notes: The club on Monday confirmed that center back Joseph Greenspan cleared the league's concussion protocol and will be available for the match. His return is timely given the absences of regulars Brent Kallman (injury), Francisco Calvo (Costa Rica) and Jermaine Taylor (Jamaica) ... If Abu Danladi is not ready to start due to his thigh injury, Bashkim Kadrii could see his first start since April 8.

Columbus Crew SC

Crew SC have a respectable eight victories – so why are they clinging to sixth place in the Eastern Conference and just two points ahead of the seventh-place New York Red Bulls?

Simply put, when Columbus don't win, they lose – and often lose big. Crew SC have drawn just once this season, in their opening match. Their 10 losses are matched in the East only by cellar-dwelling D.C. United, and they have coughed up a conference-worst 32 goals so far. They also have struggled to string together good results, with no consecutive victories since a three-match winning streak from mid-March into early April.

Throw in a 2W-7L-0D away record, and things look even shakier for a team that had looked to be one of the year's success stories.

  • Suspended: None
  • Suspended next yellow card: None
  • Int’l Duty: None
  • Injury Report: OUT – Gaston Sauro (left PCL surgery), M Ben Swanson (right ankle surgery), MF Niko Hansen (hernia surgery); QUESTIONABLE: Justin Meram (left ankle pain)

Projected Starting XI (4-2-3-1, right to left): Zack Steffen – Harrison Afful, Josh Williams, Nicolai Naess, Jukka Raitala – Artur, Wil Trapp – Ethan Finlay, Federico Higuain, Justin Meram – Ola Kamara

Notes: Jonathan Mensah admitted not being at his best in the 2-0 loss to Atlanta United on Saturday night. Could this mean that Nicolai Naess gets the call in central defense? ... Also, Justin Meram came out of that same match with a knock to the ankle. He practiced fully on Monday, but if he can't go, it could mean the first start in six matches for Kekuta Manneh.

All-Time Series

This is the first meeting between the two sides.

Officials

Referee: Rubiel Vazquez
Assistant Referees: Craig Lowry (bench side), Jeff Muschik (far)
Fourth Official: Ricardo Salazar