Union Look to End Season With a Win

Philadelphia head to Columbus looking for first-ever winning streak

The Basics

Philadelphia Union (8-14-7, 31 points, 7th in the Eastern
Conference) vs. Columbus Crew (13-8-8, 47 points, 2nd in the Eastern
Conference) at Crew Stadium in Columbus, Ohio.

All-time record: Columbus lead 1-0.

TV Info

4 p.m. ET, Live Well HD Network/MyNetwork TV WQMY

Game Intro

The final game of the regular season has no playoff ramifications –
Philadelphia are a non-qualifier and the Crew were assured of finishing
second in the East after New York defeated New England on Thursday. But
Philadelphia will be playing for pride and the chance to end the season
on the uptick following their 2-1 victory over the Red Bulls on Oct. 16
before their adoring fans in PPL Park.

“We feel that if we end on a positive note, we’ll come back in the
preseason and feel good about what we’ve done here,” Union Coach John Hackworth said.

Columbus seek momentum heading into the playoffs and got a lift with a
4-1 away victory against Trinidadian side Joe Public on Thursday in the
final Group B match of the CONCACAF Champions League. The Crew became
the first team to qualify for the quarterfinals, reach the finals of the
Lamar Hunt US Open Cup and make the MLS postseason in the same year.

In a quirky coincidence, Sunday’s game almost featured a ‘keeper who was
nominated for goal of the week – William Hesmer’s strike
off a corner kick in stoppage time brought the Crew a 2-2 tie at Toronto FC
on Oct. 16 – and a midfielder who won the save of the week award.

Fred not only scored against New York but had a
goal-line clearance of a Juan Agudelo header in added time to preserve
the Union win. The Union midfielder will miss the match, however, due to yellow card accumulation.

Columbus Crew

The visiting Crew defeated the Union 2-1 on Aug. 5 behind a pair of
goals by Steven Lenhart, who
subbed early for Jason Garey when the forward
became ill with a stomach virus. Lenhart is suspended for the rematch
after his red card following an altercation with Toronto goalkeeper Jon Conway.

Coach Robert Warzycha has options to replace Lenhart with Emilio
Rentería scoring twice against Joe Public, Andrés Mendoza also tallying
in the match and Garey having a strong game as the partner for both.

“We’ll try to play with as much of the lineup that we think will play
in the playoffs but by some of the performances by the guys [Thursday]
they may see more of the field,” Warzycha said.

Whoever gets the call, the Crew will be looking to end a team-record
280-minute scoreless streak in Crew Stadium where they are 9-3-2. The
last goal was by Lenhart in the 80th minute of a 3-1 win over Colorado
on Aug. 21. Since then, the Crew have had scoreless games with FC Dallas
and San Jose and a 4-0 loss to Seattle.

Columbus could finish with 50 points, one more than last year when
they won their second straight Supporters’ Shield but seven fewer than
the MLS championship team of 2008.

Philadelphia Union

The Union are 6-7-6 (24 points) after a 2-7-1 start for the expansion
team. That’s comparable to the Crew’s 7-7-5 (28 points) mark over the
past 19 games.

“We’re a team now,” Hackworth said. “Back then, we were a bunch of
individuals.”

Sebastien Le Toux is
an MVP candidate with 13 goals and 11 assists. His penalty conversion in
the 45th minute vs. the Crew tied the match before Lenhart’s winner
five minutes later. Rookie forward Danny Mwanga has seven goals and four assists
in his bid for Rookie of the Year honors.

Forward Alejandro Moreno has
six assists heading into his return to Columbus after being taken by the
Union in the expansion draft. He had 20 goals in three seasons with the
Crew and scored the first goal in the 2008 MLS Cup.

Midfielder Stefani Miglioranzi
was also part of the championship squad before being traded to Los
Angeles prior to the 2009 season then acquired in the expansion draft by
Philly. He has been forced out of his last two games vs. the Crew due
to injuries but he’s started 24 games for the Union.

Heroes & villains

Sebastien Le Toux vs. Chad Marshall: The Philly forward has
been a phenom since his arrival from Seattle this season and is lethal
shooting or passing, but Marshall, a two-time MLS Defender of the Year,
is no slouch.

“There are a lot of good defenders [in MLS],” Le Toux said. “The next
one I’m going to face is Chad Marshall, and he’s very good.”

Stat that makes you go “Hmm...”

MLS' most recent two expansion teams won in their first visits to
Crew Stadium: San Jose (2-0) in 2008 and Seattle (1-0) last year.

Related:

WATCH: Columbus Crew Preview