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Crossing the Touchline: Talking Columbus Crew SC at Philadelphia Union with Eugene Rupinski of Brotherly Game

It's been just over a month since Crew SC and the Union last played. We checked in with Eugene to see how things are going in Philly.

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

It will be the second consecutive road match for Columbus Crew SC, who look to rebound from an emotional roller coaster of a game against Orlando City SC last Saturday.

The Black & Gold took an early lead through midfielder Tony Tchani before referee Silviu Petrescu issued a penalty kick for a hand ball on the goal line. Columbus center back Michael Parkhurst was issued a straight red card for denying an obvious goal scoring opportunity (although Crew SC fans may argue not much about the play was obvious) and Kaká converted from the spot.

Forward Kei Kamara gave the Black & Gold the lead back in the second half with his league-leading 10th goal of the season, before a late equalizer from OCSC's Pedro Ribero in the 89th minute.

Crew SC remain in search of the team's first road win of the season and look to do it against a Philadelphia Union side that has only three victories this year and sit on the outside of the playoff race.

The Union's play on the field has improved since Columbus' 4-1 win at MAPFRE Stadium in late April, though the improvements haven't translated into results quite yet.

To get a better understanding of what's gone on in Philadelphia, we turned to our friends at Brotherly Game and Managing Editor Eugene Rupinski.

Questions for Brotherly Game

Massive Report: The Union have been playing better over the last three games with two wins and a close loss to D.C. United. What changes have been made to get these results?

Brotherly Game: Players have gotten healthy. The Union were hit hard by the injury bug during the first part of the season, and I think what we're seeing is guys getting healthy and being able to contribute meaningful minutes, both on and off the pitch. The last time the Union and Crew SC played, the Union was unable to start Sheanon Williams, Vincent Nogueira, Fernando Aristeguieta, or Andre Blake due to injury. This time around, everyone but Blake should be available for selection.

MR: Much like Crew SC a year ago, it appears Philadelphia is spreading around the scoring, with no one with more than three and three players with two. Is this an intentional style of play or is it just the way things have worked out so far this year?

BG: I think it's been out of necessity to be honest. I think the lion's share of goals were expected to come from Aristeguieta and CJ Sapong. Aristeguieta was injured and then missed two games while with the Venezuelan National Team, and Sapong missed a month due to a DUI incident. In their absence, someone had to step up, so you saw goals come from guys like Zach Pfeffer and Vincent Nogueira - guys who aren't expected to score very often. That's huge and a reason the Union aren't even worse off than they are now.

MR: Twelve points in 14 games isn't what Union fans probably wanted heading into the year, but the team is just two points back of a playoff spot at this point. What are the expectations heading forward? Can this team make a push in a weaker Eastern Conference?

BG: Right now I don't think there are any expectations. This season was supposed to see the Union be competitive and possibly make their first playoff appearance since 2011. When the club was 1-7-3, all of those expectations were gone and replaced with despair. Now I think fans don't have any expectations. We know it's possible to make the playoffs, especially with stronger teams like Sporting Kansas City and the Houston Dynamo heading to the Western Conference. But there are some very competitive teams in the East - Columbus included. In order for the Union to make the playoffs, one of those stronger teams is going to have to falter. Hopefully they'll continue their winning ways and take advantage of when whatever team slips up.

To see Eugene's questions for Massive Report, check out their Opposite View at Brotherly Game. Also, leave any comments below.