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Staff Predictions: Philadelphia Union at Columbus Crew SC

It's a new match day. Can either team earn its first point(s) of the young MLS season?

Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

There are winners in losers in everything and to begin the Major League Soccer regular season, the Columbus Crew SC and the Philadelphia Union were losers.

While the Black & Gold fell 2-1 at the hand of the defending champions in Portland, the Union encountered a rocky start down south in a 2-0 loss to FC Dallas. The two sides now meet in Columbus, where Crew SC has dominated the series.

While it is certainly early days in the MLS season, the Black & Gold have ambitions of winning the Eastern Conference and possibly even a Supporter's Shield. If the club is going to live up to those lofty standards, it needs to get wins at home against inferior opposition.

Philadelphia meanwhile is in a rebuild mode, but as we've seen in MLS historically, those modes don't have to take long. If the Union are going to surprise people this year and make a run at the East crown, or just a playoff birth, getting a result at MAPFRE Stadium wouldn't be a bad place to start.

How do we see the game playing out? Here are our staff picks for this week. Feel free to let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Kris Landis

Kei Kamara gets at least one. Crew get back to regularly scheduled programming, playing their style against a Philly squad who can't cope. Bombing down the field from fullback, Afful will put his off night behind him, getting an assist. No bicycle kicks, but Pipa will have a strong game, pulling the strings from the hole, dropping a bit deeper at times to free up space for wingers to run in to. Tony Tchani has another quietly dominating match, not getting on the stat-sheet, but playing lights out and bossing the midfield.
Columbus Crew SC 3  Philadelphia Union 0

Matt Weisgarber

Federico Higuian looks like a man on a mission this year and his goal celebration told me all I need to know about how much he wants to win. Higuian gets on the score sheet again with a goal or an assist in the first 20 minutes. I think we will see Ethan Finlay redeem himself for last week and play better in front of the home crowd as well. Columbus should cruise giving a near sell out crowd a fantastic show.
Columbus Crew SC 2  Philadelphia Union 0

Josh Mlot

I really want to give Crew SC the shutout here, but I just need to see the defense be more consistent. I think C.J. Sapong will nab one at some point for Philly. However, I think this is the game that Ethan Finlay gets back on his game, and I think he harasses Fabinho all night and gets a goal and an assist. Kei Kamara will open up his account for 2016?

Sam Fahmi

Kei got close to scoring a couple of times against the GOOD Portland defense. I see him scoring two against Philly with Justin Meram scoring the third. Philly scores one because...well... Crew SC defense. We could also see Amro Tarek make his debut as the first Egyptian EVER to play in an official MLS game, but that will be very much dependent on Gaston Sauro's hand and his ability to play in a cast.
Columbus Crew SC 3  Philadelphia Union 1

Patrick Guldan

Crew SC are a better team than the Philadelphia Union. They have more talent and have built significant chemistry. The Union are still trying to put new pieces into place and the loss of Maurice Edu will loom large.
Columbus Crew SC 3  Philadelphia Union 1

Andrew Todd-Smith

As evidenced by their 2-0 defeat to FC Dallas last week, the Philadelphia Union still have work to do before they are to be taken seriously among the 2015 playoff contenders from either conference. Dallas outshot, outclassed and soundly beat Philly in almost every phase of the game. The two were deadlocked last week in passing accuracy at a paltry 69 percent, a slight consolation for the losers. But If Columbus Crew SC can be effective with their counterattacking then it should be a comparatively easy day of work for the Black & Gold. Union forward C.J. Sapong wasn't really a factor last week, but keep an eye out for him to get chances on throughballs if the midfielders can move things efficiently through Crew SC's defensive half to empower him.

If Sapong, Ilsinho and Leo Fernandes can be kept under 10 shots collectively before Sebastian Le Toux is subbed in (assuming the Starting XI is the same), Columbus wins by two. Kamara nets his first tally of the season, likely with his head and Finlay gets an assist minimum.
Columbus Crew SC 3  Philadelphia Union 1

Patrick Murphy

As I've said previously, this Crew SC team reminds me a lot of last year's side for both the good and the bad. We saw the same problems in the first game -- vulnerability on the counter attack and an over-reliance on a player or two to finish chances -- as we did a year ago, but the team also showed the attacking prowess that they road to MLS Cup.

The Union aren't on the same level as Columbus right now, so I see the Black & Gold opening the home slate just as they did a year ago after falling by one on the road. Put Kei Kamara and Federico Higuain on the score sheet and Crew SC takes the points.
Columbus Crew SC 2  Philadelphia Union 0