The lineup puzzle: Shuffling pieces, sorting it all out against Columbus Crew

Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Columbus Crew have won only a single game since April 1. It feels an awful lot like a cruel joke that we're the team on the back foot here, but being on the road again so quickly after a dismal loss to Seattle Sounders was always going to do that to us.

While we can feel a little aggrieved that we're in this position, it's not like we're in such a strong-despite-having-lost state that we should be surprised at the reactions.

We're without three vital players — but we already knew that. Garth Lagerwey has gone as far as saying that we might only have 18 healthy bodies (but maybe 19) for this match in Columbus, which, while just enough to have a match without leaving an open spot on the bench, is a little frightening.

We might have Joao Plata back, and Robbie Findley could feature after being on the bench last weekend. Olmes Garcia and Devon Sandoval both seem likely to play, too, so we have four of the group. (Thin up top, my eye.)

Jeff Attinella and Lalo Fernandez are available, one suspects. So are Tony Beltran, Chris Wingert, Rich Balchan, and Abdoulie Mansally, for that matter. Ten of 18 (or 19!) down.

But at the back, things get interesting. With news trickling down (directly from the player's mouth, really) that Carlos Salcedo is starting at center back, we rightly have questions at center back. We'll leave that one alone for just one moment and move forward.

The midfield doesn't seem too different: Cole Grossman, Luis Gil, Javier Morales, Luke Mulholland, Ned Grabavoy, and John Stertzer are all options, one would think. This leaves us with 16 of 18 or 19 remaining.

Back to the back: Carlos Salcedo starts. Who starts alongside him? Who's the player who might be injured, if Garth's ruminations are being read properly? Are we left with Nat Borchers alongside Salcedo? Chris Schuler?

It's a puzzle, really. Tonight will be interesting.

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