And just like that, we’re three weeks in to the Major League Soccer season. Columbus Crew SC (2-0-0) travels to the Philadelphia Union (1-0-0) looking to improve on a hot start to the season.
Both teams are unbeaten on the young season, but still trying to figure out who they are and how 2018 will go.
To help figure out a little more about the Union, we turned to Matt Ralph of SB Nation’s Brotherly Game to get a closer look.
Questions for Brotherly Game
Massive Report: For Crew SC fans who haven’t kept up with the Union too much this offseason, could you give a brief rundown of what the last few months since 2017 ended were like for the club?
Brotherly Game: The offseason was relatively quiet for the Union until they announced the deal to acquire David Accam on the day of the SuperDraft and finalized a loan deal for Czech Republic international Borek Dockal the week of the season opener. Beyond that, the only acquisitions were from within the organization - they signed Jamaica international Cory Burke from Bethlehem Steel and inked homegrown players Matt Real and Mark McKenzie to first team contracts. The offseason lull was filled with plenty of angst from the fanbase that has only subsided slightly with the opening night win.
MR: Philly is one of a few MLS teams with only one game played so far. In that match, they were up a man for a large portion. What were you able to take away from the first game of substance for the Union?
BG: They played well up a man, but even before the sending off a Lee Nguyen-less New England Revolution just didn’t look very threatening. A win is a win but it was hard to put much stock in it given the way the game played out and the opponent but David Accam alone is a reason for Union fans to at least be cautiously optimistic. The team has a solid veteran core and a young back line that passed the few tests the Revolution presented and Andre Blake bailed them out as he did so frequently last year in their shakiest of moments but Columbus will be a different story.
MR: What are your expectations for Philadelphia this year and why?
BG: I think they’ll be middle of the table for much of the season and become the type of team you don’t want to play on the road when you need points but the road will still be unkind and they’ll lose games when better teams find ways to win and finish either right at or just outside the final two playoff spots. Accam and Dockal were good upgrades and the contract extensions for Blake and CJ Sapong (just announced this week) were smart moves but it’s still hard to picture the team being competitive at the level of the Crew much less the Toronto FCs, New York City FCs and Atlanta Uniteds in the East.
Thanks to Matt for giving us some insider perspective on Philadelphia. To read Massive Report’s answers to Brotherly Game’s questions, click here.