Match previews / Union

Match preview: Columbus Crew vs Philadelphia Union

Photo: Marjorie Elzey

Who: Columbus Crew vs Philadelphia Union

What: MLS Regular Season

Where: Field, Columbus, Ohio

When: Saturday, September 30, 7:39 p.m. kickoff

Watch: Apple TV – MLS Season Pass

Whistle:REF: Jon Freemon, AR1: Logan Brown, AR2: Oscar Mitchell-Carvalho, 4TH: Thomas Snyder, VAR: Edvin Jurisevic, AVAR: Gjovalin Bori

Third place Philadelphia Union travel to Ohio to take on fourth place Columbus Crew in a crucial Eastern Conference matchup on Saturday night.

Both teams have four games remaining in the regular season and are battling each other, along with a handful of other teams, to secure home-field advantage in the first round of the MLS Cup Playoffs.

The Union are unbeaten in their last six matches against the Crew (W4 D2), although they have taken all three points just twice in 17 all-time visits to Columbus.

Both of those wins game back in 2016 and since then, the U have netted just one goal in their last eight visits to Columbus (D3,L5).

Scouting Report: Columbus Crew

The Crew are unbeaten in their last 13 home matches (W10 D3).  Their last three home matches have been shut-out wins.

This team also scores goals.  They’re tied with Atlanta for the most goals in MLS with 61.

They netted just one during their visit to Dallas last weekend, but prior to that: three against Chicago (W), three against Orlando (L), and four against Montreal (W).

Leading that strong attack is Cucho Hernandez, who leads the team with 13 goals.

In their 1-1 draw with Dallas last week, Hernandez fired off seven shots.  That was his league-high 16th match with at-least 5 shots.  No player has recorded more such games in a season since 2019 (Vela, Ibrahimovic)

Joining in the strong attack is former LAFC forward Diego Rossi, who signed with the Crew as a DP back on August 2.  He’s found the net twice and added two assists since joining the team.

Another new face is midfielder Julian Gressel, who was acquired from Vancouver in July.  Gressel is a dynamic player who can help create goals while also providing stout defense when called upon.

Not only have the Crew made some big mid-year acquisitions, they’ve also lost a star.  Those looking for Lucas Zelarayan will not find him, as the star attacking midfielder was transferred to Al Fateh of the Saudi Pro League at the end of July.

This a much different Crew team from when the Union beat them 4-1 on opening day in Chester back in February.

Player Availability: Sand (OUT – Knee)

Scouting Report: Philadelphia Union

The Union have played four consecutive draws, including a 1-1 result against Dallas midweek.

They’ve lost just once in their last nine matches (1-3 at Toronto August 30). But, despite avoiding losses, the games have felt underwhelming throughout the month of September (their 4-1 win against the Red Bulls aside).

It is clear that the high volume of matches this team has played thus far has caught up with them.

As important as securing home-field advantage in the first round of the playoffs would be, equally if not more important is entering the playoffs healthy with head coach Jim Curtin’s first eleven all available.

Usual starters Jakob Glesnes (defender), Jose Martinez (defensive midfielder) and Julian Carranza (forward) were all left off the team sheet for Wednesday’s match against Dallas as they nursed their respective injuries (Glesnes-sports hernia, Martinez-Knee, Carranza – Concussion).

It’s unlikely that Carranza will be available for Saturday’s match, and it remains unclear whether Martinez and Glesnes will be available.

Defender Damien Lowe has performed well in Glesnes’s absence, and defensive midfielder Jesus Bueno has been very serviceable as a replacement for Martinez.

Forward Quinn Sullivan took Carranza’s spot in the lineup midweek and scored a great goal which gave the Union a 1-0 first half lead.  It’s likely he will get another start on Saturday.

Player Availability: Carranza (QUESTIONABLE – Head), Glesnes (QUESTIONABLE – Leg), Martinez (QUESTIONABLE – Knee) Flach (OUT – Sports Hernia)

Matchup to Watch: Cucho vs Lowe and Elliot

It’ll be tough test for Lowe and Elliot to keep Cucho off the score sheet.  Lowe is front foot defender and Cucho will let it rip with the tiniest bit of space.

Player to Watch: Daniel Gazdag

The Union’s leading goal scorer has had consecutive quiet performances against LA and Dallas.  If the U are to come away with a result in this one, Gazdag needs to be more involved.

Prediction: Columbus Crew 2 – 1 Philadelphia Union

Perhaps the U rise to challenge in this match, but the Crew didn’t have a midweek match and should come out firing.


  1. Let’s go Philli. Got a lot of money riding on this game don’t let me down again. WATP

  2. PhillyBear1872 here again,

    Good game for us to strike back and show the rest of the league who we are and what we’re made off.

    Show them what will be coming to them in the MLS Cup when they *eventually* reach it.

    Hopefully we will see Miami, if they even get there LMAO (Laugh My A** Off)

Leave a Reply

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