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Philadelphia Union to win, Over 2 goals
Philadelphia Union vs Columbus Crew has been one of the tightly fought matches in MLS history. The two sides have been clashing since 2010, and they have met 30 times in the league. Of those meetings, only four games have ended in a draw.
Philadelphia Union are the favorites going into this game as they have been in better form this season. They sit second in the Supporters’ Shield table and will be looking to get another win and move to the top. However, they have won just 11 times against the Crew in 30 meetings.
Columbus Crew made a great start to the season but have been shaky since then. This weekend, they need a big performance to boost their confidence and move up the table. They have won half their matches against the Union and will be looking to keep their three-match unbeaten streak against the opponents going.
This fixture has not seen a lot of red cards and only five players have been sent off in the 30 meetings. Four of those players were from the Crew, while Kai Wagner became the first Union player to get sent off when the two sides met back in October 2021.
We expect this match to finish with both teams getting on the scoresheet, with the home team edging out the victory
Philadelphia Union started the season with a draw against Minnesota United thanks to Cory Burke’s equalizer after the away side took the lead via Robin Lod. The game saw them keep hold of the ball and attack, but they could not make the most of their chances and had to settle for a point.
Jim Curtin needed to change things up, and it was a red card to Julián Carranza that helped him figure out the best way to get results. After going down 1-0 at CF Montreal, the Union bounced with two quickfire goals in the second half to take the lead. But once the striker was sent off, they sat back, defended deep, and their new tactics were in full motion.
The manager tried the new tactics from the start against San Jose Earthquakes, and it was clear that Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid were the inspiration. Cory Burke scored once again before Dániel Gazdag found the back of the net from the spot in the second half. The two goals were enough for them to pick up the three points, despite having just 31% of the ball.
Curtin went on to use the same formula against New York City FC and Charlotte, and the results were the same. They won both matches 2-0, and the unbeaten start to the season remains intact.
In short, Philadelphia Union are not a side that enjoy keeping possession of the ball but manage to get the goals they need to pick up the wins.
Andre Blake, the Union’s captain and goalkeeper, has been in tremendous form this season and has three clean sheets to his name. He has delivered in all their games this season and is one of the main reasons why the Union are joint top in the table.
In attack, Dániel Gazdag has been leading the way. He has scored in all their wins so far this season and is their top scorer with 4 goals. Julián Carranza has been doing well to help him and has 2 assists to his name, along with a goal.
Despite the defensive tactics working, Curtin needs to work on his midfield and try to keep the possession a little more. The games are going to get tougher every week, and unless they start holding on to the ball, things could get very difficult in the big games.
Columbus Crew have been one of the most inconsistent teams in the league this season. They started with a 4-0 win over Vancouver Whitecaps but then drew 3-3 to 10-man San Jose Earthquakes.
They bounced back with a 2-1 win over Toronto FC but drew 1-1 to New York Red Bulls and followed it up with a loss to Nashville SC. Manager Caleb Porter will be keen on seeing some consistency from his players, who have not been able to make the most of their possession in the games.
Crew average over 56% of possession in matches and keep the ball in the opponent’s half majority of the table. The issue arises when they try one too many cheeky passes, as it has resulted in a lot of counter attacks against them. They manage to complete just 74% of their passes in the opponent’s half, compared to a 90% pass success in their own half.
However, their issue has not been in attack as Crew do still manage to get the goals. They have failed to score just once this season and have found the net 10 times – with none of those coming from the spot. Porter’s side take as many as 16 shots per game on average and have 5.2 of those on target.
Overall, the attack has been doing well, but they are getting very little support from the defense. Crew have kept just one clean sheet this season, which was in the season opener against the Whitecaps. While there have not been errors leading to goals for them yet, they tend to put a lot of pressure on their own goalkeeper, Eloy Room.
Lucas Zelarayán has been their best player on the pitch. The midfielder has scored 4 goals this season and has an assist to his name too, making him the most valuable player in the squad. However, he also tends to try a lot by himself and has the tendency to end up losing the ball.
Derrick Etienne Junior is one who needs to do better as he has missed 3 golden chances to score this season. Their forward Gyasi Zardes has matched those numbers and is another player who is yet to deliver this season.
He has scored just once this season, and that came in the 3-3 draw against San Jose. The forward tends to go missing in games and could be benched by the manager this weekend. Miguel Berry would be the ideal replacement as he can create chances and also get into the right positions to help Zelarayan and others.
Pedro Santos has been their most underrated player this season and someone who needs to be helped more. He has been putting in the long balls for his forwards and creating chances, but is yet to get an assist to his name.
Crew will need all their players to be in top form to have any chance of beating the Union this weekend. But if their pattern this season is anything to go by, they are technically due a win. Could it play out that way for them?
|Philadelphia Union vs Columbus Crew Information|
|Teams||Philadelphia Union vs Columbus Crew|
|Time||Saturday, April 9 at 6pm EST|
|How to watch||MLS LIVE on ESPN+, MLS LIVE on DAZN, PHL17, WWHO (The CW Columbus)|
Varun is a web journalist who has been writing on sports for 13 years. He took a shine for the MLS during the 2021 season and has been following it and writing about it since, alongside his work involving the English Premier League, La Liga, and the Serie A. He is deeply interested in soccer analytics and strategy and has aspirations to move into coaching at some point. Email: [email protected]More info on Varun Shetty
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