Two second half goals pushed the Columbus Crew to victory over Philadelphia Union in Columbus, Ohio on Sunday evening in a match that saw a weather delay extend halftime.
Columbus came out without a creative player in the center, opting instead to play Wil Trapp, Artur, and David Guzman together. This jammed up the middle but meant that the Crew’s counterattacks — their main method of progressing — only went up the wings.
With both sides struggling to create, the Union were the first to threaten when a turnover in midfield allowed Jamiro Monteiro to break free up. The midfielder was outnumbered so he took the shot from distance on himself, pulling it wide of the far post.
The Crew countered in the fifteenth minute, driving up the left and sending in a teasing cross that split Andre Blake and Mark McKenzie, however Luis Diaz’s far post run was late and he could only fire a cutback shot directly at Blake.
Pedro Santos was moving in off the left wing then slipping behind Ray Gaddis when he pushed upfield. McKenzie and Jack Elliott remained strong in the center, though, and Gyasi Zardes was unable to latch onto anything coming in from the flanks.
Then, in the 37th, Columbus sent midfielders forward and a front post ball led to a free header at Blake’s goal. The Union shot stopper held his ground and snagged the shot out of the air.
After a weather delay extended halftime, Philly came out with renewed purpose. Haris Medunjanin was the instigator of everything, presenting Kacper Przybylko with a good look in the 51st.
Ilsinho entered for Brenden Aaronson and began driving at Connor Maloney. In the 64th, he centered for Monteiro, but the midfielder slid in and popped the ball over the net.
That miss proved costly when Columbus countered in the 69th minute and Youness Mokhtar cut inside of Gaddis and Elliott and tucked the ball under Blake for a 1-0 lead.
Pedro Santos soon doubled the lead. Blake punched a corner out of the box but Pedro Santos put a dribbler on frame before the Union goalkeeper could recover his positioning.
Jim Curtin turned to Marco Fabian as the match wound down, but the Union couldn’t find free looks against a Crew side content to flood their own box with bodies.
No breakthrough was coming, so the Union move on to the final match of the season with a chance to finish in second place in the Eastern Conference if the results go their way on MLS Decision Day.
Head out to Talen Energy Stadium at 4:00 p.m. ET on October 6 as the season comes to an end and the Union prepare for an Audi MLS Cup home match.