Although Columbus Crew SC found out late Wednesday night that the team was eliminated from the 2019 MLS Cup playoffs, the Black & Gold still have two matches remaining to conclude their long, up-and-down season.
The final home match of 2019 brings the second placed team in the Eastern Conference, the Philadelphia Union, to town. The seasons of each respective team couldn’t be more different. Philadelphia is currently unbeaten in four of its previous five contests. The Union seems to have all the pieces needed to contend for an MLS Cup.
Philadelphia embarrassed an under-manned Crew team back in March in a 3-0 blowout to end the Black & Gold’s initial three-match unbeaten streak.
Can the Black & Gold downplay their playoff disappointment and begin to end the season on a strong note? Let’s see what our staff thinks.
Lets face it, this Crew side was never built as a playoff team. Maybe early, when all of the pieces post-Gregg Berhalter were still clicking from last season’s playoff run. Caleb Porter needed not only his own team to make the Crew a playoff and possibly championship-winning side, he also needed time. An experimental season like the one we’ve seen in 2019 will help Columbus find relevancy once again in the long run.
Now to the topic at hand. I doubt the Crew pull off a victory against a side that thrashed them earlier in the year. However, much has changed since then and I have reason to believe that even being the final home match of the season and the lasting high from the new stadium announcement, the Black & Gold have something to prove. They’re going to show that they (at the very least) deserved a shot at the postseason.
Columbus Crew SC 2 Philadelphia Union 1
Columbus Crew SC (35 points) will play the Philadelphia Union (55 points) for the final home game of 2019. Unfortunately for the Crew, the Union will be coming into MAPFRE Stadium with the mission of leaving with all three points because Philly — with two games remaining including this weekend — is only six points out of first place to New York City FC and only one point ahead of the third-place Atlanta United in the Eastern Conference. Playoff seeding will be a motivating force for Jim Curtin’s team.
The Black & Gold – coaches and players alike – simply weren’t prepared to defeat an MLS bottom-dweller (a frustrating and pathetic trend for Caleb Porter’s Crew in 2019) with slim playoff hopes on the line last weekend against the Vancouver Whitecaps, so it’s a bit of a toss up for this weekend as the Crew enter the match dispirited yet still wanting to put on a show for fans during the final home game this year.
Columbus Crew SC 2 Philadelphia Union 2
Normally you would think this would be a very lopsided match. One team is preparing for the playoffs and still fighting (with the slimmest of chances) to capture the top seed in the Eastern Conference. The other has been eliminated from the playoffs and sits in the bottom three of the league. But as the Crew have proven time and again, they can compete with nearly any club in the MLS. But the team has also proven time and again that tit can’t secure all three points when it matters the most. The caveat this week is the points don’t matter anymore. The Black & Gold are playing for pride and the Crew faithful, who will surely be out in numbers for the last home match of the season. Even though the pressure is off, mistakes are all too common at at MAPFRE Stadium. Expect one more solid performance but disappointing result from the Black & Gold.
Columbus Crew SC 2 Philadelphia Union 2
Philadelphia has plenty of incentive to play for a win, while Columbus has just pride to play for and the potential to battle for spots on next season’s roster. The Union are coming off a high of beating the Supporters’ Shield-winning Los Angeles Football Club on Wednesday. Keeping their second place status in the Eastern Conference will behoove them immensely in the MLS Cup playoffs, so they will be playing for a win. Caleb Porter is a “hate to lose” type of coach and many of his players want to make amends for what has been an underwhelming 2019 campaign. Whichever one of these two mentalities wins out over the 90 minutes will ultimately decide how this games plays out. My educated guess is that it ends in a stalemate
Columbus Crew SC 1 Philadelphia Union 1
Philadelphia Union has a lot more to play for than Columbus does this week. With the Black & Gold officially eliminated from the playoffs, it’s hard to say how Caleb Porter will decide to approach this game. I expect the team to come out and try to make up for the heartbreaking ending to the Vancouver game. I believe that many players will be looking to make an impression these last few weeks to secure a spot for next year. Regardless of the effort I just don’t think Columbus will have enough to get any points from this match.
Philadelphia Union 2 Columbus Crew SC 0
After a valiant string of draws and a few wins, the Crew is finally out of the playoff hunt for 2019. On Saturday the team will host a Philadelphia Union side that might not be able to win the regular season crown in the East, but will definitely be looking to secure the second seed and head toward the playoffs on a high note. It is hard to say what sort of lineup Caleb Porter will put out. Columbus does not have many young players who don’t already receive playing time, so we aren’t really in “play the kids” territory. There’s no need to send out players with nagging injuries while others might be playing for a shot at a contract for 2020.
Philadelphia Union 2 Columbus Crew SC 1
How do you see Saturday’s match playing out? Can the Crew give fans a little reassurance going into the offseason? Let us know in the comment section blow.