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Crew 2 can clinch division vs. Philadelphia Union II

The Black & Gold look to lock it up.

Courtesy of Columbus Crew 2

Columbus Crew 2 locked up a spot in the MLS NEXT Pro playoffs this week by virtue of other results, becoming the first team in the Eastern Conference to do so. On Saturday, the Black & Gold have the opportunity to clinch their division with a win against Philadelphia Union II on Saturday at Lower.com Field.

Currently, Columbus sits on 44 points after 20 games place, with second place in the Central Division being Inter Miami II on 32 points through 20 games. With four contests left in the season, as long as Crew 2 doesn't walk out in defeat, the Black & Gold will have won the division.

“Fabolous news. Now it’s just not enough, we want more,” said head coach Laurent Courtois.

Defender Daniel Strachan detailed what the team is focused on, saying the group did not celebrate clinching:“We’re focused on that No. 1 seed and just want to make sure that we have all those home games."

Crew 2 is coming off a shootout win against Orlando City B. This was the first shootout win for the Black & Gold this season in their fourth try, losing to FC Cincinnati II, TFC II, and RNY FC on shootouts earlier this season.

“It's the craziest thing, you work on something, and it shows up in the game,” said Courtois. “It's been on me for not practicing more in training, and this what we’ve done way more last week, and we felt the guys were more confident.”

Crew 2 will have the team’s hands full with Philadelphia as Union II is one of the hottest teams in the league currently. Philadelphia is currently on a six-game winning, defeating the Black & Gold recently in one of the wildest finishes in MLS NEXT Pro history. Union II scored nearly at the death on a volley to secure three points at home.

“If there is one team that you think is probably going to the same thing over and over, and I credit to them because I love teams that stick to their identity, it's Philly,” Courtouis said.

The only worry for Philadelphia is this will be the team’s third match in six days, as the schedule is grueling for the club at the moment. This can also be great for momentum and rhythm after Union II defeated New England Revolution II 5-1 and New York City FC II 2-1 this week so far.

“In the final run for the playoffs, you don't have to focus so much on training, it's about recovering and competing. It can be a good rhythm sometimes,” said Courtois as he detailed how he thinks Philadelphia will be ready for the matchup. “You're not tired when you're trying to qualify for the playoffs.”

Philadelphia is right in the thick of the playoff picture in the East. Currently, Union II sits in third place, with only four spots allowed in the playoffs. However, despite being in the playoffs at the moment, Philadelphia is only four points ahead of fifth-placed NYCFC II.

If Columbus wants the top spot in the league, and Union II is fighting for a playoff spot, neither team can afford to lose at the moment. This should be an exciting game to watch at Lower.com Field.

Crew 2 remain at home next week when they take on Chicago Fire II on Saturday, September 3rd at 8:30 pm at Historic Crew Stadium. The question will be, will they have the division clinched by then?