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Massive Predictions: Philadelphia Union at Crew SC

Can the Black & Gold come out with a huge win on Saturday night?

MLS: Philadelphia Union at Columbus Crew SC Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

Over the course of a 34-game season, it’s hard to find one contest that stands out because there’s plenty of time to make up for a disappointing performance. Saturday’s Columbus Crew SC game against the Philadelphia Union is certainly one of those rare exceptions where this game shines above the rest.

Both Crew SC and the Union appear to be in a good spot when it comes to making the MLS Cup playoff. Though the question remains where they will finish in the standings. The Black & Gold currently holds a one-point lead over Philadelphia for fourth place in the Eastern Conference standings. Keeping this spot is important as finishing in fourth results in a home game in the knockout round of the playoffs.

Both teams are playing well with a combined four losses in their last 18 matches. The Union did play in the U.S. Open Cup Final on Wednesday, falling 3-0 to the Houston Dynamo, meaning the visitors will have more fatigue in their legs.

Do we believe Crew SC will capture the much-needed three points on Saturday night? Let’s see what our staff thinks.

Patrick Murphy

This is as tough of a game for me to pick for Crew SC in a while. Both teams come in playing some pretty good soccer. Columbus has only one loss in its last five while the Union have suffered defeat once in eight games in MLS play. Of course, Philly did lose 3-0 in the Open Cup Final on Wednesday, which could impact this game.

Despite the midweek game, I expect a mostly first team group for Philadelphia on Saturday. This may be the deciding factor on who finishes in fourth place and gets to host the knockout round game in the MLS Cup playoffs.

I think the home field advantage is enough to get the Black & Gold three points, but it won’t be pretty.
Columbus Crew SC 2 Philadelphia Union 1

Collin Johnson

For Crew SC, the playoffs begin Saturday. The Union sit only one point out of the fourth place slot that Columbus have held for most of the season while the Black & Gold are just six points out of third place with a game in hand. Securing third or fourth ensures that Crew SC get at least one home match during the the 2018 MLS Cup playoffs.

Philadelphia have been on an excellent run of form playing Jim Curtain’s smash-mouth brand of soccer. In two prior matches between the East’s fourth and fifth seeds, Columbus have taken four of a possible six points while giving up zero goals. But, those points all came before the Union hit their stride.

The Black & Gold have the benefit of playing this match at home, in front of what will hopefully be the biggest crowd of the season. They also have the benefit of playing Philadelphia following a midweek U.S. Open Cup Final in which the Union played a full-strength team. Philly lost that match handily, so Crew SC will have to hope there’s a hangover from that Cup final loss rather than a refocused commitment to the MLS Cup playoffs.

With a fully healthy team, Columbus must treat this match like a playoff game and a potential preview of the first round of the MLS Cup Playoffs. Win, and they’re likely in.
Columbus Crew SC 2 Philadelphia Union 0

Eliot McKinley

Both Columbus and Philadelphia have effectively (but not mathematically) clinched either the fourth or fifth playoff spots in the Eastern Conference. With four games to play for each team, only one point separates them. A win for the Crew would most likely cement fourth place and home field advantage for the Knockout Round playoff game.

Philadelphia have been on a good run of form lately, winning six out of their last eight MLS games, but come to MAPFRE Stadium on the heels of a big loss in the U.S. Open Cup Final to Houston. Philadelphia played a full strength lineup in Houston and this being their fifth game in two weeks is surely going to affect this contest. Given the Union’s tired legs and Gregg Berhalter’s propensity to get his team at peak form at the end of the season, I expect the Crew to claim all three points. I also see Pedro Santos, who has had a very good run of games lately, finally scoring his first goal since March.
Columbus Crew SC 2 Philadelphia Union 0

Guilherme Torres

Columbus returns to MAPFRE Stadium after last weekend’s victory over the Rapids, but the team will probably need to do a better job, especially at finishing chances, to beat a rising Union team that has won four of its last six games and is a real threat to Crew SC’s home field advantage in the playoffs.

In a simple comparison, I like Crew SC’s team better than the Union’s and add to that the fact that Philadelphia will need to deal with both the fatigue and the frustration of their setback on the U.S. Open Cup Final on Wednesday. If Columbus can control the game, play with intensity and convert some of the chances it should generate, it could be another happy night in central Ohio.
Columbus Crew 1 Philadelphia Union 0

Patrick Guldan

The playoff fortunes of Columbus Crew SC may be made on a September evening at MAPFRE. The matchup against the Philadelphia Union may decide whether the Black & Gold host a knockout playoff game. It’s a perfect time and place for Crew SC to make a statement. This is a team that’s been very strong at home and anything less than three points will be seen as a disappointment.

Columbus is healthy and key players are in form. The offense revolves around Federico Higuain and he’s playing with his trademark confidence now that he’s fully fit. After a busy stretch of travel, Gyasi Zardes, Wil Trapp, Pedro Santos and the rest of the team had a regular week of training. It was also a full week for the staff to prepare the team for the game against the Union.

Philly is on the second week of midweek games with extreme travel. This includes a crushing loss in Houston on Wednesday in the Open Cup Final. This is a team that will have to push through significant fatigue and the disappointment of another Cup loss. They’ve been in great form, but their circumstances will catch up with them.
Columbus Crew SC 2 Philadelphia Union 0

There you have our predictions. How do you see Saturday’s game between Crew SC and the Union playing out? Let us know in the comment section below.