Match previews

Match preview: Philadelphia Union vs. Columbus Crew

Photo: Paul Rudderow  

Who: Philadelphia Union (2021: 4-3-2, 15 points, 3rd place in the East) vs. Columbus Crew (4-2-2, 14 points, 4th place in the East)

What: 2021 MLS Regular Season

Where: Subaru Park, Chester, PA

When: Wednesday, June 23 at 7:30 p.m. (Eastern)

Watch: PHL17

Whistle: Referee: Joseph Dickerson. Assistant Referees: Nick Uranga, Jose da Silva. 4th Official: Jonathan Bilinski AVAR: Claudiu Badea

After a three week layoff due to the international break, the Union now have a quick turnaround and play their second of three games in just a seven day stretch.  Following Sunday’s improbable draw with Atlanta, the Union players should be feeling confident as their Eastern Conference rivals, the Columbus Crew, roll into Subaru Park Wednesday night at 7:30 in a battle amongst top teams.  

The Union finally get to meet the Crew on their home pitch following a run of four straight games played at Columbus. In those games, the Union lost three and played to a 0-0 draw on this year’s opening day way back in April. 

Scouting Report: Columbus Crew

The reigning MLS Cup champs started this season slowly, perhaps resulting from a Concacaf Champions League hangover. But they have returned to form, winning their last three matches, and now find themselves in fourth place just one point behind the Union – and with a game in hand.  As the Crew bring back most of their Cup winning roster from last year, their continued success is expected.

The Crew are full of quality players, but any analysis of Columbus has to  start with Lucas Zelarayan, the central attacking midfielder who can both score and create. With three goals and the ability to connect play with the other attackers, Zelarayan will be the focus of any opposing defense.  He is complimented up top by a bevy of talented players.  Darlington Nagbe, back from an early season injury, has the ability to distribute and break a press; Pedro Santos has been filling in at left back to cover an injury, but he may be back at wing bringing his speed and savvy directly to the attack. Gyasi Zardes continues to contribute with 3 goals this year including a brace last week against Chicago… and the Crew’s big offseason signing,  Kevin Molino, saw his first action of the year last week as he recovers from a hamstring injury.

Defensively, the Crew have been characteristically stout only surrendering six goals this season.

Injury report: Out: None

Questionable: Perry Kitchen; Milton Valenzuela, Luis Diaz

Suspended:  None

Scouting report: Union

It feels like the Union have not hit their stride yet, but despite that, still have a six game unbeaten streak in MLS.  With one less day off than Columbus, the team will have to dig deep to compete with a very good Columbus team.

There are a couple of question marks in the lineup.  In the midfield, Jose Martinez is still away on international duty while playing for team Venezuela in the Copa America so Leon Flach will get the call again to fill in at the number 6.  Flach has performed well, but will have to deal with Zelarayan et al – but we can look at this performance against Carlos Gil during the New England game and see that he is more than capable.  Anthony Fontana finally got his start at the No. 10 last game against Atlanta but did little to impress.  Late word is that he has a concussion and will not be able to play, so assume that Montiero moves back to the 10 and Jack McGlynn starts at the 8. Note also that Daniel Gazdag is nursing a bad knee and will not be in the lineup.

Sergio Santos left Sunday’s game with a concussion but is cleared to play.  Expect to see Cory Burke line up alongside Kacper Przybylko at the forward position.  

Columbus tends to not press heavily and will settle back into a block  so the Union will have to improve upon their build-up. They can take advantage of having two big forwards in the box…or a centerback with a big leg.

 Injury Report:  OUT: Jack De Vries (F); Ilsinho (M); Daniel Gazdag (F);  Anthony Fontana (M)            Questionable: Sergio Santos (F)

Suspended:  None

Key Matchup:  Leon Flach vs Crew Midfield

Flach will need to continue his good form and keep Zelarahon et al in check.  

Player to Watch: Jakob Glesnes

After his Golazo against Atlanta, will Glesnes continue to barrel up the field and take audacious shots?  Probably.  Are you watching this Ben Simmons?

Prediction:  Philadelphia 2-1 Columbus

Moneyline: 

Philadelphia Union:    -120

Columbus Crew:         +300

Draw:                          +270

A surprisingly wide spread. Originally had the prediction as a tie, but Vegas knows all.

4 Comments

  1. Incredible to be in a full stadium again in my ‘normal’ seat…

  2. Another interesting game where depending on game state it is possible we see more HGs subbing in. Based on sub patterns when everyone is healthy, normally we’d see a striker subbed out and one of the midfield subbed out. So it is possible we see Sullivan at striker and Aaronson at the 10 (on for McGlynn, moving Monteiro to 8) if possible?

  3. Andy Muenz says:

    It’s a shame that Martinez can’t make a quick trip up given that Venezuela has their bye today.

  4. Andy Muenz says:

    Union could be in a bit of trouble Saturday if Monteiro picks up a yellow tonight. According to MLS website, he is only one yellow away from suspension. If Fontana is still out, they’ll need to start playing the youth since Martinez will still be gone.

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