Columbus Crew SC are back from the Gold Cup break and have a bit of ground to make up. They are currently outside the playoffs as they face the Philadelphia Union twice in five days. It’s a perfect chance to climb back keep in the playoff hunt with only 14 games left in the season.
The team will have to do it without Federico Higuain who picked up an ankle injury that will keep him out of the game. The rest of the starters are fully fit with Justin Meram back to practicing without pain. Only Niko Hansen and Mohammed Abu were on the injury list, but are also back practicing.
The Union will be missing their backstop as goalkeeper Andre Blake remains with Jamaica as they extended their run in the Gold Cup. Alejandro Bedoya was released due to the birth of his child, but is back with the Union and is expected to play.
Keys to the Match:
Who makes magic?: Higuain has the most key passes and expected assists for Crew SC in 2017. He’s also capable of pulling off passes that other players on the team can’t. Justin Meram is a threat on the ball, but he will need help without the team’s playmaker. Will one of the attackers (Finlay, Manneh) step up or will Columbus get some production out of the midfield.
Tidy at the back: Without Higuain, Columbus has turned to the back three that has forgone a playmaker. Crew SC’s defensive struggles have been significant this season and it will be interesting to see if they are able to keep an inconsistent Union offense at bay.
Make them run: The Union played a tough one on Wednesday on the road in Montreal. They don’t have the deepest bench and may struggle to rotate some key players. Crew SC should be fit and in form after the long break and the friendly tuneup. Columbus needs to exploit that by keeping the Union moving on defense. It will eventually tire out the visitors, but it also makes it harder to get into shape to attack.
How to Watch:
Date/Time: Saturday July 23rd, 7:30 p.m.
Venue: MAPFRE Stadium (Columbus, OH)
Watch: he CW Columbus, Spectrum Sports, BCSN2 (Channel Guide)
Stream: MLS Live
Listen: CD102.5 FM (English Broadcast) La Mega 103.1 FM (Spanish)