8 p.m. ET, ESPN2, PPL Park
The Eastern Conference-leading Columbus Crew make their first-ever visit to PPL Park. Currently toiling in sixth place in the East, the Union have picked up results in four of their last five matches, while Columbus come into the match having lost 3-1 to Chivas USA in their last outing.
Home team news
The Union have been playing much better recently than earlier in the season, picking up wins against Seattle and Toronto within the last month. Forward Alejandro Moreno will be playing against the team for whom he played two seasons before being left unprotected in this year’s expansion draft.
Away team news
Columbus have been the bosses of the Eastern Conference so far this season, cleaning up against the other seven teams. The loss of Eddie Gaven to a head injury will hurt the team’s width against the Union, but with Guillermo Barros Schelotto patrolling the middle of the pitch, they should do well to maintain possession.
Heroes & Villains
Peter Nowak vs. Robert Warzycha: The league’s two Polish managers are set to do battle on Thursday in a match of two gritty, hard-nosed teams. The styles of the clubs reflect the attitudes of their respective managers, and fans can expect a high work rate in front of a national audience.
Stat that makes you go, “Hmm...”
Keys to the Game
- Controlling Schelotto’s range and vision will be the top priority for Stefani Miglioranzi and Fred
- Play wide through Justin Mapp and Sebastien Le Toux to get balls into the middle
- Taking the possession from the Union will frustrate them and make it difficult for them to get going
- Pressure Union forwards Alejandro Moreno and Danny Mwanga so they can’t get into good shooting areas
OUT: MF Shea Salinas (L fibula fracture); PROBABLE: DF Jordan Harvey (L groin strain); FW Alejandro Moreno (R knee contusion); FW Danny Mwanga (R ankle sprain); MF Roger Torres (R ankle sprain)Columbus
OUT: MF Eddie Gaven (concussion); DF Gino Padula (L knee inflammation); DOUBTFUL: MF Robbie Rogers (L knee inflammation)