In a match that was a normal Union-Crew match, the Union found a way to get their first win over Columbus since 2019. The Union capitalized on a first-half chance and played stellar defense on the way to a 1-0 win. They are now unbeaten in their last seven thanks to the win vs Crew SC!
Union unbeaten in last seven; win 1-0 vs Crew
Philly’s unbeaten streak now stretches back to May 8th. Since that time, they have conceded three goals, scored 11, and have five clean sheets from seven matches. This Union team is very good, and their win vs the Crew came from not overthinking an opportunity and playing stellar defense.
Union got the better of the Crew by converting a chance and not overthinking
The Union has been struggling on the offensive end this season. Against a very well-organized Crew side, the Union knew they wouldn’t have a lot of the ball. Should Philly want to win this match, they’d have to hit Columbus on the counter and be decisive when they had chances.
Columbus had 62% of the ball in this match. While it’s usually didn’t lead to any real chance for Crew SC. They made sure to keep the ball away from the Union. Philadelphia’s main opportunities were going to come from counter-attacks, set pieces, and reworked chances. When the Union had the ball that is exactly how they attacked.
Philly had a clear opportunity to exploit the outside backs of Columbus. The overlaps were on for the Union’s outside backs, especially on the right side. Columbus’ left-back Pedro Santos is more of a winger/attacker by trade. The Union loves to attack sown their right through Bedoya and Mbaizo who have developed real chemistry down the right flank. That pairing helped create the loan goal in this game.
Breaking down the Union’s goal
A ball was worked wide to Mbaizo who looked to advance down the right-wing. Bedoya showed for him for a quick option but that opened space further up the files for Burke. The striker held the play up and picked out Mbaizo’s darting run down the right-wing. Mbaizo was able to have a free run there because Bedoya made a run in the channel that drug Columbus’ Santos away from his position.
Mbaizo then had time to pick a cross; he tried to hit Przybylko but the effort was clear. However, it bounced right to Montiero. He chested the ball and didn’t give a shot a second thought. His left-footed effort beat an initial defender, the goalkeeper, and a second defender as it went through Mensah’s legs. The Union was up 1-0 after 24 minutes.
Montiero spoke after the match about how he and the Union’s offense need to think less and shoot more. This led to their goal in this match The goal came seemingly from nowhere; the defense then kept the lead for the rest of the match!
Andre Blake’s heroics and a joint defensive effort led to another clean sheet
Andre Blake had another spectacular game when called upon. And the joint defensive effort was enough to secure the three points. Columbus’ possession didn’t always amount to much, but when it did, the backline and reigning goalkeeper of the year Andre Blake sprung into action.
In the first half, Columbus had an expected goals of 0.04. They didn’t create much of anything despite having Kevin Molino make his first start for Columbus. In the second half, the expected goals jumped up to 0.71, which was because Crew SC brought Lucas Zelarayan off the bench. The Union had some issues when he was on the ball. Especially in the 82nd minute.
Zelarayan started a run toward the Union box and played what was supposed to be a 1-2 with Zardes. Hairston was also making the same run as Zelarayan. As Philly’s defense was moving to stop Columbus’ number 10, Hairston found his way in on goal. He had the jump on Andre Blake, but Blake was able to rush to make the shooting angle smaller. Hairston hit Blake’s trailing leg, and the ricochet hit the Crew player and went out for a goal kick. The effort saved three points for Philly on the night and the rest of the defense helped secure another clean sheet!
Six clean sheets from 10 games
The Union now has not conceded in six of 10 league matches. Their defense is third-best in the league behind Orlando (who have conceded 6 goals) and Seattle (who have conceded 5 goals). The six goals the Union conceded were in their early-season loss to Miami, their red-card induced loss to NYCFC, their 1-1 draw to New England, and their 2-2 draw at Atlanta. This team is set up to be a defensive powerhouse.
The Union lead MLS in clean sheets, have a goals conceded average of 0.7 which is tied for second best in the league, and are fifth in saves per game with 3.8. Through 10 games, the Union are showing on the defensive end that they will be one of the best in MLS, and possibly the best in the east.
Before the season started the Union looked to have a shaky defense as they lost supporters shield winning started Mark McKenzie and Ray Gaddis. The backline hasn’t missed a beat with Jack Elliot and Oliver Mbaizo injected into it. With almost a third of the season completed this defense has shown they can be one of the best in MLS in 2021!
Philly Unbeaten since May 8th
The Union’s unbeaten streak is now spanning seven games. While they haven’t always been the best matches, they are working on a run that should continue through the weekend. The Union travels to now last place in the league Chicago this weekend. It should hopefully be another three points extending this streak the Union needs this to happen to keep pace with the other top two teams in the east!
Curtin mentioned in his presser ahead of the Chicago match that the match will be a tough contested struggle, even though Chicago is struggling. For the Union to get three points they’ll have to continue what they’re doing so well. Defend, defend, defend, then spring on the counter-attack and set pieces!
We’ll have you covered with Union analysis as the season continues to be on this hot and heavy pace!
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Mandatory Credit: Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire