Columbus Crew SC (2-0-1, 7pts.) is coming off of its first home victory for the season and are back on the road as they take on the Philadelphia Union (0-2-1. 1pt.) on Saturday, March 23.
The Crew is currently on a two-game winning streak, including one away win at New England. The last time the Club has had back-to-back road wins was in 2015, and currently tied at the top of the Eastern Conference with seven points, the Crew plans to continue this momentum into Saturday.
“We never take games off. We try to win every game. Every point matters. Every game matters. Game one is the same as game 34. They are three-point opportunities,” said head coach Caleb Porter. “If you don’t earn points early, then now you start to chase it and then it’s a numbers game and that’s not a good feeling. And it’s not the way that you want to do it. You want to be up at the table fighting for the top, fighting for seeding, so we are going to take it one at a time. It’s nice to have a home and away win. It’s nice to have some points, but more than that, we need to keep improving.”
The Black & Gold are heading into the match without four of their players due to international duties. Midfielder Wil Trapp (USA), forward Gyasi Zardes (USA), defender Waylon Francis (Costa Rica), midfielder Justin Meram (Iraq) are all scheduled to be out for Saturday's match. Along with missing the four, the Crew will also be without goalkeeper Zack Steffen, who is also sitting out as a precautionary measure.
“We know we are going to miss guys every international call,” said defender Gaston Sauro, who scored the game-winner against FC Dallas. “I think that’s why every guy here in training is working hard to have this chance and I think they are ready to do it. I hope we can do a good game against Philadelphia at their stadium.”
The Philadelphia Union are without four of their players as well, including goalkeeper Andre Blake (Jamaica), forward Cory Burke (Jamaica), Warren Creavalle (Guyana), and midfielder Derrick Jones (USA U-23).
Defense continues to be a stronghold for the Black & Gold, as they have not conceded a goal in 264 consecutive minutes of play and plan to continue their high-pressure defense come Saturday.
“The number one thing I look for is not giving the opponents chances,” Porter said. “I believe we are up there with the top of the league with expected goals. When you look at the actual chances that the opponents created, in the three games, not many.”
As for the opponent, the Philadelphia Union are coming off of a 1-1 road tie against the defending MLS Cup Champions, Atlanta United. The Union was without Marco Fabián, who had to sit out of the match due to receiving two yellow cards in their loss to Sporting Kansas City in the week before. Fabián leads "the U" with 11 shots, 4 on target, resulting in 1 goal so far this season.
Against Atlanta, the Union called upon Brenden Aaronson to replace Fabián, who gave the visitors the lead in 47th minute when he hit the ball into the bottom right corner, but the Union was unable to hang on as Atlanta’s Ezequiel Barco tallied the equalizer in the 67th minute.
Last season, the Crew went 1-0-1 against the Philadelphia Union, including a 1-0 victory at Talen Energy Stadium in May.
Kickoff against Philadelphia is set for 7:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, March 23 at Talen Energy Stadium. The match will be broadcast on FOX Sports Ohio and 97.1 FM The Fan. Followers can also tune into the live Spanish audio stream at www.ColumbusCrewSC.com.