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Crossing the Touchline: Crew vs. Philadelphia Union

Getting the info on the Union from those that know it best

Syndication: The Columbus Dispatch Kyle Robertson/Columbus Dispatch via Imagn Content Services, LLC

The Columbus Crew had an emotional night on Saturday in a 2-0 win against the Chicago Fire. This game marked the final contest at historic Crew Stadium and the victory only cemented the celebrations that followed.

But it’s a quick turnaround for the Crew, who travel to face the Philadelphia Union on Wednesday night. The Black & Gold must have renewed focus because this is an important game for Columbus.

While the Crew’s three wins in a row have seen the team climb to fourth in the Eastern Conference standings, the Union hasn’t lost in six matches and sit a point ahead of the Black & Gold having played one more game. This means if Columbus can get a fourth straight victory, the team will be in an even better position in the standings.

These two teams played once already this year, a 0-0 draw at Crew Stadium to open the 2021 MLS season, but that was over two months ago. In order to get a sense of where the Union is now, we reached out to Philadelphia’s SB Nation site, Brotherly Game, and assistant editor Joe Lister.

Questions for Brotherly Game

Massive Report: The Union is nine games into the 2021 MLS and is in third place in the East. What have you learned about this Philly team that you didn’t know coming into the season?

Brotherly Game: The Union has taken a slightly different attacking style than in previous seasons. In the past, they’ve fought hard to maintain possession, but haven’t been able to do much with it. This year, they’ve held the ball for less than 50% of the game, but they’ve worked on quick attacks to get their goals in. Most often you’ll see a counter-attack stopped by the Union’s own inability to drive into the box, followed by a corner kick and, with some luck, a goal.

MR: Philadelphia is on a six-match unbeaten run here early in the year. What has been the key to a fast start to the season?

BG: Defense, defense, defense. The Union has had five shutouts in its nine games, and the backline + Andre Blake has earned their pay. Jakob Glesnes has had a standout season, and Andre Blake has picked up where’s he’s left off after the last one. Leon Flach has also filled in well for the often suspended or absent Jose Martinez, and his success on the midfield and at the six has been huge for Philly. When the Union gives up goals, it’s usually to some rough mistakes (see Kacper Przybylko’s own goal on Sunday), but overall, they’ve managed to avoid those to maintain their hold on their opponents and the Eastern Conference.

MR: How big of a difference do you think it will be to have a full crowd at Subaru Park and what kind of boost could that give the Union in this game?

BG: The full crowd will but huge for the Union. Since their first two matches of the 2020 season were both away, the team hasn’t seen a full house since the 2019 playoff loss against New England. However, even with capacity, the Sons of Ben and the fans have done their job, and they’ll only get louder with all 20,000 seats filled. Crowd noise will definitely become an issue for Columbus, and it’ll be interesting to see how they respond.


To read Massive Report’s answers to Brotherly Game’s question, click here.