Fresh off of a bye week, the Philadelphia Union will welcome the red-hot Columbus Crew to town.
The ins and outs
Philadelphia Union (1-0-0) vs Columbus Crew (2-0-0)
When: Saturday, March 17th - Talen Energy Stadium
Where to watch: 6 ABC, MLS Live (free streaming)
Pro Referees: Referee: Nima Saghafi, AR1: Phil Briere, AR2: Gianni Facchini, 4th: Sorin Stoica, VAR: Geoff Gamble
Coaches: Jim Curtin (Philadelphia Union) Gregg Berhalter (Columbus Crew)
Shaking off the rust
The Philadelphia Union are coming off of a week break after taking down the New England Revolution while the Crew picked up another win versus the Impact. There's no worse time for a bye week than after a win unless it happens to be after the first week of the season. The Union have the unfortunate distinction of having both and they tried to stay fresh by scrimmaging Bethlehem Steel and NYRB II last week. It will be up to Jim Curtin to make sure that the team is focused and ready to go this week against the Crew.
Finish your chances
The Philadelphia Union rattled off 21 shots against the Revolution. However, only six of those shots found the target against a team that finished with nine men. Simply put, that isn't good enough as players who should be finishing their chances missed consistently. CJ Sapong, in particular, needs to finish better to perform to the standards of the expectations of this team. Hopefully, a new multi-year contract with the team will put Sapong on the right track to repeat the success of last season.
Trusty the Process
With Gyasi Zardes back in form, the central pairing of Jack Elliott and Austen Trusty will have to show that they're up to the challenge. Zardes is tied with Diego Rossi atop the Golden Boot standings and looks to have found new life with the Crew. Alongside him, Pedro Santos and Federico Higuaín will give the defense a bigger problem than the Revolution could. It's this week that the defense will need to show if it is, in fact, better than last year's defense. If they can handle the Crew, they can handle almost anyone.
This week, we're going to do something a little different in the oppostion's corner. Instead of updating you on the tactical nature of the Crew, I taked with Chris Bils of The Statesman. Bils offers an unbiased look at both sides of the coin and we chatted about the pending lawsuit versus Precourt Sports Ventures and some of the common misconceptions of the possible move.
Regarding the lawsuit, as of now, it isn't impacting how PSV is operating on the ground in Austin. They are still identifying sites for a possible stadium and recently released their community benefits package for McKalla Place which is owned by the city but is currently unused. This shouldn't come as a surprise as it is no sure thing that the lawsuit will go through. It could be deemed as being too vague or even as being unconstitutional so unless an injunction is granted, PSV will likely continue attempting to secure a stadium site while other things are sorted out.
We also discussed some common misconceptions surrounding the move and one that Bils touched on is that Precourt is being chased out of Austin after his proposal for a site on Parkland was turned down. Parkland holds historical significance to the city of Austin and because of that, Precourt was turned away from Parkland but the city is still truly open to working with him. Other sites are still in play but currently, PSV is honing in on McKalla as a destination as stated above.
Another thing that gets lost in translation involving the Crew's potential move is the desires of the markets. Each market has their own reasons as to why they want the Crew and this is something that as a Baltimore native, I can understand. When the Wilmington Hammerheads were possibly relocating to Baltimore, I was on the front lines of people who would be behind the move. This isn't to say that I wanted soccer fans in Wilmington to suffer, but when your city has a chance at securing a team of their own, you jump behind it because you never know if that chance will ever come again.
The Union have no new injuries to report meaning that Ilsinho is the only long-term absence. Borek Dockal is recovering well from an ankle injury but may not be ready to play a full 90 leading to another start from Anthony Fontana. That being said, here's what the lineup may look like:
This lineup should be good enough to see the Union move to 2-0 on the season in front of the Talen faithful.