Your Wednesday Kickoff: What will decide tonight’s Mini Decision Day games?

Charlotte FC vs. Columbus Crew

If all the missions weren’t interesting enough somehow, Charlotte-Columbus is a sprint, not a marathon. The game picks up right where it left off when it rained on July 30th. The game starts in the 16th minute and continues with the same players who were on the field and with exactly the same bench.

However, it will be fascinating to see who actually uses this bench. Charlotte will be forced off the field due to injuries to goalkeeper Kristijan Kahlina and centre-back Guzman Corujo. But overall, the substitutions, which usually seem stronger the more tired the opponent’s legs are, lose some of their bite here. The downside to this is that starters will be able to put a little extra into their 75 or so minutes on the field, knowing they have limited time to make a difference. So you just say give it your all and we do our normal 30 and 15 minute subs to go as usual?

It’s such a weird and interesting wrinkle that you almost feel like it should happen more often. Do we just do a round zero of 60 minute games every year?

Hey, so does that mean Columbus has eliminated his greatest weakness on a technicality?

You’re probably pretty well aware by this point that the Crew has blown more leads late this season than any other team in MLS. So, legitimate – but also joking, but also legitimate – question here: what happens to this trend now that they’re not playing the full 90? Is it a fatigue thing late in the games or is it mentally ingrained at that point? We might not get a chance to consider everything, but it’s this game’s goofiest and best-running subplot.

And to be fair, they at least drew an Uno reverse card and clinched a late comeback win of their own last week thanks to a late brace from Derrick Etienne Jr. Maybe that was enough to fix the problem.

We’re talking about the 27th (Charlotte) and 26th (Columbus) offenses in the MLS rankings this year by expected goals. And I’m not sure you can count on Daniel Rios to score four goals in every game, but who knows? No matter what, with both teams needing a win tonight, two lackluster attacks will need to find a way to make this work with 16 minutes less to get the job done. It seems like Crew’s trio of Lucas Zelarayan, Cucho Hernandez and Etienne Charlotte predominates on paper. But Charlotte is just a different beast at home. The only teams with more home wins this season are Philadelphia and LAFC.