It's a top of the table clash Wednesday night at MAPFRE Stadium when Columbus Crew SC (5-1-2, 17 pts.) host the Philadelphia Union (4-1-3, 15 pts.) [7:30 p.m. ET / FOX Sports Ohio / 97.1 FM The Fan], as two points separate the teams who occupy the second and third positions in the East.
Crew SC is coming off a 0-0 "Hell is Real" derby draw at FC Cincinnati, while the Union blasted D.C. United, 4-1, at Subaru Park Saturday night.
Columbus has won nine of the 13 all-time meetings at MAPFRE Stadium, including a 2-0 victory in the penultimate week of the 2019 regular season, courtesy of second-half goals by Youness Mokhtar and Pedro Santos.
At MAPFRE Stadium, the Crew is 9-2-2 all-time against Philly with a +11 goal differential (23 GF, 12 GA).
In Columbus's last match, FC Cincinnati dropped numbers deep defensively, bunkered against a frustrated Crew SC side. Considering that, Caleb Porter had a positive mindset after the match.
"The positive for me is I don’t care who you’re playing, you take a point on the road. The clean sheet, I’m very proud of that, and the back four and in general defensively, we didn’t give them anything," Porter said. "So I thought we executed extremely well. We had a lot of the ball, and that’s our game, and we need to do better at finding at least one goal."
Crew SC also welcomed back goalkeeper Eloy Room, Lucas Zelarayan and Mokhtar from injuries, with Room making it look like he never left thanks to saves like this diving stop, as well as this instinctual redirection.
The Union, meanwhile, continued their dominance of D.C. United, scoring three times in the opening 21 minutes en route to a 4-1 rout Saturday night at Subaru Park. Kacper Przybylko struck twice in the first 16 minutes and Sergio Santos made it 3-0 in the 21st minute. Brenden Aaronson tacked onto the lead in the 61st minute as the Union extended an unbeaten streak to seven games in emphatic fashion.
"He played a great game, he dominated tonight and that's what top strikers do in this league," Union coach Jim Curtin said of Przybylko. "We were a little proactive. There was a thought to leave him out there to chase a hat trick, but we also recognize we have a big game against Columbus and wanted to save some legs because he does work so hard on both sides of the ball for us."
In previewing the mid-week match, midfielder Darlington Nagbe predicted Wednesday's showdown to be more free-flowing, with a top tier defense in Columbus pitted against a red-hot Philly offense.
"It’ll be more of an open game, an attacking game. Like I said, they’ve been good in the attack this season, have some creative guys [up front], some good energy. Our defense has been good, so it will be a good game.
"I think our guys that haven’t scored in the last two games, I think will be hungry for it, trying to get a win at home, especially. I’m looking forward to this game."