Match previews

Match preview: Philadelphia Union vs. Columbus Crew

Photo: Daniel Studio

Who: Philadelphia Union (9th in the East, 23 points, 6-8-5) vs. Columbus Crew (7th in the East, 28 points, 9-10-1)
What: 2017 regular season game
Where: MAPFRE Stadium; Columbus, OH
When: Saturday July 22nd, 7:30 PM
Watch: The Comcast Network, CW Columbus, Spectrum Sports OH, BCSN2, MLS Live
Whistle: REF: SILVIU PETRESCU, AR1: Philippe Briere, AR2: Eric Boria, 4TH: Fotis Bazakos

The first leg of a Saturday-Wednesday home-and-home sees the Union in Columbus for a critical regular season matchup. Columbus is coming off a Monday friendly win over Eintracht Frankfurt and should be quite fresh coming out of the international break. On the other hand, the Union are coming off a Wednesday road loss and remain without a road win since May. All signs point to this being a schedule loss in a game the Union may not be able to afford to lose as they look up the standings at their opponent.

Scouting report: Columbus Crew

Columbus has simply not been able to find any consistency this season. Since drawing their opening match, they have won nine and lost ten without drawing a game, and they haven’t experienced a streak of more than two games in either direction since the season’s first month. Columbus’s biggest struggle has been finding centerbacks capable of providing resistance – they have the most expensive and seventh most expensive CBs in the league but have found both to be wanting. In their last game before the break, they turned to a tandem of rookie CBs who held Minnesota scoreless, so expect to see that pairing again. Meanwhile, Zack Steffen has manned the net every minute of the season so far and that should not change tomorrow.

Up front, Columbus boasts significant attacking talent. The Union will have to be vigilant to hold the attacking trio of Ola Kamara, Frederico Higuain, and Justin Meram in check. Kekuta Manneh has also been finding his stride recently.

  • Injury report: D – Gaston Sauro (left PCL surgery, out for season), M – Ben Swanson (right ankle surgery, out for season), D – Nicolai Naess (left ankle injury)
  • Questionable: None
  • Suspended: None
Scouting report: Philadelphia Union

Is this the game where Curtin will finally make changes?

Sapong has hit his usual midseason skids. Picault appeared to come up lame with a hamstring injury and was subbed off last game. Ilsinho and Alberg were frustrating and ineffective. Medunjanin has played almost every minute this season and is starting to show fatigue. Montreal exploited these issues, controlling the ball for the vast majority of the game until they scored their second and became more conservative. The Union were unable to create much of anything that didn’t involve Fafa’s speed. It is uncertain whether Bedoya will be back with the team, but his absence was clearly felt. Andre Blake and Chris Pontius are both still on national team duty.

The Union will quickly need to find their rhythm on the road on a short week which will not be an easy task.

  • Injury report: Maurice Edu (M, left ankle/tibia), Fabian Herbers (sports hernia surgery recovery), Derrick Jones (concussion)
  • Questionable: Fafa Picault (hamstring?)
  • Suspended: None
Key matchup: Frederico Higuian vs. Haris Medunjanin

The Columbus attacker is quick and dangerous, so Medunjanin will have to be smart to not allow Higuain to get free runs at the defense. If Higuain can get loose, the Union will find themselves under siege.

Players to watch: Justin Meram

Meram typically plays high up the offensive left. With Gaddis offering little offensive threat and Rosenberry offering little defensive resistance in his MLS time this season, Meram could cause the Union fits all night long.

Prediction: Columbus 4-0 Philadelphia

This feels like the perfect storm. A well-rested team at home against a struggling, tired team on the road. Columbus is a fierce attacking team capable of lighting up the scoreboard, and it’ll be up to the Union to find some way to control some possession to stop this from being a blowout.


  1. Andy Muenz says:

    Why not go one step forward?…4-0 with McCarthy still being the best player on the Union.

  2. Adam Schorr says:

    Updates from Curtin’s press conference – Fafa does have a hamstring injury and is testing it today. Alberg is suspended for the game. Bedoya will be with the team, although it’s not immediately clear whether he will be starting or just available.

  3. Adam Schorr says:

    Another update – Higuain apparently picked up knee sprain at some point and is out for this weekend’s game. Crew fans appear to be surprised and weren’t able to provide any info. It’s a break for the Union for sure.

  4. Atomic Spartan says:

    Just read today’s Inquirer preview of the match in which JC touts the team’s depth as one of its strengths. Given his history of squad rotation I have only one comment:

    • Please stop with the squad rotation. Our record is not the result of a lack of squad rotation. Our poor play is not the result of a lack squad rotation. Squad rotation is not the problem. The problem is the players are not very good. Average at best. No play makers, no finishers, no difference makers. You can shuffle the lineup (which JC has done more than ever before) and the results will not change. You can fire the coach and the results will not change. We need more quality players. Sorry for the rant, just tired of the players and ES getting a free pass while JC takes all the blame.

  5. The Crew will not use a 3-4-3 tonight, they will go 4-2-3-1. The CB pairing will be the same as the other games when they use 4 backs. Williams and probably Mensah.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


%d bloggers like this: