After a nine-game unbeaten run, the Union finally lost a game, a tough 1-0 pill to swallow against the bottom of the table Chicago Fire. With a combination of lack of rotation, tired legs, and some silly mistakes, the Union was clearly outplayed and struggled to get much going in the final third. With all that being said, there is good news for Union fans in the fact that we do not have to wait exceptionally long to get back into it and forget that poor result.
Union vs Crew Preview
The Union travel to Lower.com arena, the home of the Columbus Crew. The last time these two teams played, the Union won 1-0 at home on a howler by goalkeeper Eloy Room. This time around, the Union may not be so lucky to get such a goal. Let us take a look at how Columbus is doing since the teams last played, the player to watch out for, and a final score prediction for the Independence Day weekend matchup.
2022 MLS Season
Since the Union last played the crew, the teams fortunes have taken opposite turns. While the Union just came off a nine-game unbeaten streak, the crew have only won three of their last ten games but are on a four-game unbeaten streak with two wins and two draws. There have been some substantial changes to the team as well since the matchup back in April.
The biggest piece of news was that the team traded star striker Gyasi Zardes to the Colorado Rapids for a hefty sum of allocation money. The other big piece of news that has surrounded the team is their $10 million transfer fee acquisition of Watford striker Cucho Hernandez. The young striker is only 23 years old and coming off a season in the Premier League in which his team was relegated, but the player found some scoring success while up in England’s top division.
While he will not be available for this weekend’s matchup, this signing is still hanging over the team in a positive manner.
If you have watched a Columbus Crew game over the past few years, I do not think it takes too much guessing to figure out who the player to watch out for is on this team. Its none other than their star talisman number 10 attacking mid Lucas Zelarayan. Through twelve games played this season, the star player has amassed four goals and four assists. These numbers are a bit low for him considering his ability and production in past seasons but comes with a caveat. He has been a little more injured than in past seasons as well as all the offensive struggles that have plagued this team to this point in the season.
While all this might be true, this does not mean that the Union should take him lightly at all. All it takes for Zelarayan is for one moment of defensive lapse to occur and he will create an absolutely insane moment of pure futbol magic. The Union will be up for a bit of a tougher task on this occurrence as they will be without the services of Jose “El Brujo” Martinez who got two yellow cards during the midweek matchup against the Chicago Fire.
This means that the task of defending this insanely talented attacking-mid may fall to either Jack Elliot if he is forced to play the six or Leon Flach if he is moved back into that position. We shall see what the Union do to shut down Zelarayan.
Despite the mediocre performance against the fire, I fully expect the Union to bounce back and put in a better performance this upcoming weekend. While they might not have the services of Jose Martinez, I fully believe that Jim Curtin will find a way to either change up the formation or mix things up to allow his team to potentially steal three points on the road in a tough environment.
The Crew still seem to have a bit of a struggle getting quality shots on net, but they are starting to get more production and effort from their young academy players who are starting to force their way into the lineup. It will be an interesting matchup between the two midfielders to see who can stamp their mark on the game. After a tough result in Chicago, I think the Union will be able to at least get a point in Columbus. Put this writer down for a 1-0 Union win this upcoming weekend. Game time on Sunday is 7:30 pm.
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Mandatory Credit: Philadelphia Union, Andrew Zwarych