Columbus Crew SC is undefeated after three weeks of the Major League Soccer season, but they face a different test tonight against the Philadelphia Union — injuries and international absences. The team will be without nearly half of the starting lineup due to call-ups and injuries.
The Black & Gold will have to figure out how to make do without key cog Wil Trapp, All-Star goalkeeper Zack Steffen and the team’s leading scorer in 2018, forward Gyasi Zardes, among others as they head to Chester, Pennsylvania. Columbus will rely on a mix of veterans like Ricardo Clark or youth, in forward JJ Williams, who may be in line for his first appearance of his rookie season. The strong defense retains Jonathan Mensah, Gaston Sauro and Harrison Afful.
The Union will also be missing quite a few players and may not be able to dress a full 18-man game day roster for the contest. The struggling Philly offense will be missing their playmaking maestro, as Mexican international Marco Fabian picked up an extended suspension after a red card against Sporting Kansas City two weeks ago.
What to read:
Ralph Schudel scouts the Union and sees a team that will need to hope the depth can step up. The staff feels a little better about the Crew backups than the Union backups in the Massive Predictions. Guilherme Torres says that Eduardo Sosa is ready to make his mark on the 2019 season if he gets his chance tonight. Patrick Murphy gets the inside scoop on the hosts when he talked to the Brotherly Game’s Matthew Ralph.
83’ Third Crew sub: Eduardo Sosa replaces Robinho.
75’ Philly very content to sit back and break when the Crew turn the ball over. It’s happening a fair amount.
68’ Gaston Sauro gets a yellow card for a foul on Fafa Picoult
65’ Second Crew sub: Luis Argudo is making his season debut for Artur
54’ First Crew sub: JJ Williams makes his debut in place of Mullins
48’ Goal Union. Ilshino cleans up a ball in the box that the Crew defense simply can’t clear
Second half kicks off. No changes from the Crew yet
Halftime. Crew trail 2-0 on the road to the Union. A very poor half from Columbus.
41’ Goal Union. David Accam pushes off Gaston Sauro and gets some space in the box. He then turns Harrison Afful and finishes near post. 2-0 is a big hole.
31’ Goal Union. David Accam finishes off a Philadelphia Union counter. He places his shot off the far post.
24’ Jonathan clashes heads with Fafa Picoult and the trainers have to come out to check. Both come back in.
17’ Columbus looking slightly better, but both sides are sloppy. It’s clear that each team is missing their starters.
7’ Crew get a shot off. Columbus looking better early - including a great Higuain to Afful pass that set up a chance earlier.
1’ Crew kickoff in their all yellow uniforms.
Injuries, Suspensions, and Call-ups:
The Crew: The list is long this week. Gyasi Zardes and Wil Trapp are in the USMNT camp. Zack Steffen would be in camp too, but suffered a knee injury last week. Waylon Francis was called into the Costa Rican squad, while Justin Meram joined the Iraq national team. Columbus’ Milton Valenzuela is out for the season with a torn ACL. Niko Hansen was upgraded from out and trained all week. He may be ready to make the bench.
The Union: Forwards Sergio Santos and Kacper Przybylko are officially out with injuries. Defender Fabinho’s ankle sprain will also keep him out of action. Playmaking attacker Marco Fabian saw his suspension extended. Midfielder Warren Creavalle joined the Guyana squad, while starting goalkeeper Andre Blake and forward Cory Burke were called up by Jamaica. Derrick Jones joined the U.S. U-23 team, further weakening the Union midfield.
How to watch:
Date: Saturday, March 23, 2019, 7:30 p.m. ET
Venue: Talen Energy Stadium (Chester, Pennsylvania)
TV: FOX Sports Ohio
Come back here once the lineups are announced to take part in our game thread. You can chat with members of our staff and other Crew fans throughout the match in the comment section below.