Philly Sports Network’s Union Crew Preview: Can Union find first road win of 2018 in midweek clash at Columbus?


The Philadelphia Union started their three games in eight-day stretch started off with a three-zero thrashing at the reigning MLS champions. The Union’s play didn’t exude confidence, and did little to have anyone who watched the game have confidence in this team. The starting wingers and number 10 had no touches in the 18 in the entire match. Luckily, the squad will get a chance for redemption this week; playing two matches in four days. First we look at the Union’s midweek match against Columbus. Here’s our latest installment of Philly Sports Network’s Union Crew Preview: Can Union find first road win of 2018 in midweek clash at Columbus?

Philly Sports Network’s Union Crew Preview:

Jeff Green:

The Union come into Wednesday night’s contest floundering, looking for some sort of glimmer of hope in this otherwise dismal start to the season.  They’ll be taking on a tough Columbus club, tied for 4th place in the Eastern Conference and with a +3 goal differential.  Our boys come in at 9th place, a -7 goal differential, and as usual, no road victories. Even I was surprised coach Jim Curtin said in his press conference today, that there won’t be any lineup changes, except for Fabinho returning from injury.  Why should we expect anything different?

Everything about this one says the Union should lose, but I’m going to stick to my original prediction before this road trip began.  One win, one loss and one draw.  We all know what happened Friday night. This one will be the draw.  Columbus will be without starting midfielder Pedro Santos due to a red card vs. Seattle.  Let’s see if the boys in blue can capitalize!

Prediction: Union: 2 Crew: 2
Union man of the match: David Accam

Matt McClain:

I’m afraid another Union road loss may drive some longtime Union beat reporters to their breaking points as their depressive editorializing has already hit all times high just a few months into this 2018 campaign.

That being said, Columbus Crew look to play an overwhelming style of play that demands high possession numbers. Their mentality is simple and has been the same for years: keep the ball away from the other team as much as possible. That’s what Columbus tried to do when they first faced Philadelphia in Chester. That strategy inevitably surprised Jim Curtin and his club and ultimately ended in a draw.
Look for Columbus to seek the upper hand early and often throughout the first 30 minutes of the match. They display poise as well as the ability to quickly pressure opposing teams whenever possession is lost.
If Philadelphia concede an early goal, you may want to look elsewhere for a Philadelphia sports victory tonight. Union are horrid when behind and they should aim for a more counter attack minded game plan rather than trying to match Crew’s possession based attack.
The young back line, depending on who features, will be needed tonight. Look for Andre Blake to bail them out once or twice if not several times throughout the match. In-game adjustments will be a crucial component of this match considering Curtin’s tactics during the two clubs’ first matchup ended up backfiring when Columbus decided to pressure and seek possession. But adjustments aren’t necessarily Curtin’s greatest skill.
A 0-0 scoreless draw will leave Curtin smiling and some fans contented yet still wanting more.
Prediction: Union: 0 Crew: 0
Union man of the match: Alejandro Bedoya

Tim Lovenguth

Coming off such a horrid showing where the entire team faded through their 3-0 loss to Toronto, the Union will need to buck up and ask themselves who they are. Are they a team that can take a few L’s and find a way to rebound from them, or will they be forever playing catch up with the teams ahead of them? This match against Columbus will tell us a lot about this Union squad.

As it is away at Columbus, the Union will likely sit back and defend first. They will look to their counter attack to create chances. This style of play is essential to Jim Curtin’s road strategies. Unfortunately, this rarely pays dividends. This time the Union will have to put it’s hopes on their under-performers.

This is the time David Accam needs to step up, and make the most of the advantages. Borek Dockal will have to look to find the right players on the break. CJ Sapong will have to turn and run at defenders when he has the opportunity to turn. Whether it be Fafa Picault or Ilsinho on the right-wing, they will need to find a way to get into the box to create chances. It’s time to see who the Union really are, can they follow-up a bad game with a good one? Will they be able to fight, and scrappily climb their way out of the whole they hag dug for themselves?

This is the true cross-road. Lose again on the road going into Montreal where the Union never seem to fare well, and this team will have trouble finding success from this MLS campaign. Find a way to win at Columbus, and Philadelphia may just be able to compete for the sixth spot in the east.

Prediction: Union: 2 Crew: 1

Union man of the Match: David Accam

Be sure to come back to Philly Sports Network for more Philadelphia Union, Steel FC, and other soccer content!

Follow our writers on Twitter:

Tim Lovenguth

Matt McClain

Jeff Green

Peace out Union fans!

Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports