Major League Soccer’s opening week concludes with a huge Eastern Conference clash as the 2020 Supporters’ Shield winners Philadelphia Union take on defending MLS Cup Champions Columbus Crew SC. Kick off from Historic Crew Stadium is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. ET and will be broadcast nationally on FS1 and Fox Deportes.
Both sides are coming off comfortable wins in the Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League Round of 16 but the Boys in Blue enjoy an extra day of rest having gotten past Deportivo Saprissa by a 5-0 aggregate margin on Wednesday night. Meanwhile Columbus too won by a the same margin against Nicaraguan side Real Esteli F.C. but played Thursday evening.
On the Union’s side, forward Kacper Przybylko and Jamiro Monteiro are off to flying starts with two goals each that should carry over well into the start of a busy slate of matches as the Union will play nine matches in a single month. With so many games in a short span, the Union’s depth will once again be tested but Head Coach Jim Curtin said he sees it as an advantage with so many young players available to be called upon.
On the other side of the pitch, the defending champions added to their group this offseason bringing in forward Bradley Wright-Phillips but Crew SC won’t be at their full potential for the MLS opener. Offseason signing Kevin Molino has a hamstring issue, Darlington Nagbe is doubtful and starting right back Harrison Afful missed the CCL opener and played on the first half on Thursday. Also missing is new midfielder Alexandru Matan.
Head Coach Caleb Porter adjusted his lineup on Thursday night giving some time off to workhorses Lucas Zelarayan and Gyasi Zardes ahead of the MLS opener against the Union.