The Crew will face the Philadelphia Union for the first time in 2013 on Saturday. The three meetings between the two sides last season provided plenty of drama and fireworks as the Black & Gold won two of the three matches.
Last year's series began in Philadelphia in a nationally televised clash on NBC Sports Network. An unfortunate handball from Eric Gehrig in the area led to a Union penalty. Gabriel Gómez converted from the spot for the match's only tally to lift the home side to victory. Eddie Gaven, Chad Marshall and Andy Gruenebaum are the only holdovers from the starting XI in last year's tilt expected to be in the lineup on Saturday.
In a return to PPL Park, defender Carlos Valdes put the Union ahead in the first half when his free kick took a deflection off the Crew wall to beat Matt Lampson in goal. Josh Williams equalized with his first career goal just before halftime. Later in the second half, the defender was sent off after an altercation with Union forward Antoine Hoppenot to leave the Black & Gold with 10 men for the final 22 minutes of the match. After fending off a flurry of Philadelphia attempts on goal in the late moments of the game, newcomer Federico Higuaín orchestrated an attack that ended with Eddie Gaven burying Justin Meram's final pass into an empty net in the 95th minute to earn the Crew three points on the road.
A month following Gaven's stoppage time heroics, the two clubs met at Crew Stadium in a late September goal fest. Jairo Arrieta netted a brace to give the Black & Gold a 2-0 cushion after 50 minutes. The Union battled back, as Hoppenot drew a penalty in the 65th minute that Danny Cruz converted to cut the deficit in half. Later in the 86th minute, Jack McInerney equalized on a one-touch tally from a Roger Torres cross. Just a minute later, Milovan Mirosevic netted the late winner to keep the Crew's playoff hopes alive heading into October. The winning tally was shrouded in controversy as Mirosevic appeared to be offside, but the linesman's flag remained down.