By Siobhan Nolan, Contributing Writer
It’s a battle at the top of the MLS Eastern Conference, as the third place Union take on fourth place Columbus Crew, who sit just one point behind Jim Curtin’s men.
Both teams hit their stride right before the international break, collecting three consecutive wins before having three weeks off. Philadelphia have a game in hand, a dramatic 2-2 tie with Atlanta United, and will be looking to move above Orlando City in the Eastern Conference (the two teams are separated only on goal differential). Columbus, on the other hand, will be looking to break into the top three of the table.
Although they looked like they were struggling against Atlanta, the stoppage time heroics of Jakob Glesnes proved that the Boys In Blue will fight until the final whistle, no matter the scoreline. While it would be ideal for them to have that kind of drive outside of moments where it’s desperately needed, it will come in handy against a tough Columbus side.
The main matchup will be the butting of heads between the Union’s star striker Kacper Przybyłko and Columbus’ veteran forward Gyasi Zardes, as both teams boast a formidable offense, and will have their work cut out for them trying to break through the midfield.
Predicted Lineup: Andre Blake; Jack Elliott; Olivier Mbaizo; Kai Wagner; Jakob Glesnes; Leon Flach; Anthony Fontana; Alejandro Bedoya; Jamiro Monteiro; Cory Burke; Kacper Przybyłko
- Jose Martinez is still away on international duty with Venezuela, so it’s likely that Fontana will fill in the midfield while Martinez is unavailable. Curtin will also want to put his best foot forward offensively against Columbus, and with Sergio Santos coming off at halftime against Atlanta with an apparent leg injury, it’s the safer option to bring in Burke.
Score Prediction: The Union’s defense kept Columbus from finding the back of the net during the teams’ first meeting during MLS’ opening weekend, and they’ve only gotten more solid, so it wouldn’t be surprising if they did it again. However, this doesn’t mean that the Union will run away with this game. It’ll be a hard-fought 1-0 win for the Union.