September comes to an end with an important Eastern Conference showdown as Philadelphia Union travel to the Columbus Crew on Saturday night. Don’t miss the action on MLS Season on Apple TV!
The Union’s match in Ohio will be game six for September, with the Boys in Blue having yet to suffer a defeat. After starting off the month with a resounding 4-1 win against rivals New York Red Bulls, the Union have racked up four-straight draws with the latest coming Wednesday night against FC Dallas in a makeup match due to the Union’s deep run in Leagues Cup. Homegrown Quinn Sullivan opened the scoring on a counterattack orchestrated by Andre Blake and Kai Wagner to bag his second goal of the month. Dallas responded 11 minutes later with a laser shot from Alan Velasco to knot the match up.
Saturday’s contest might mark the conclusion of a very busy month but sees the start of vital conference clashes in the East. While the Union have already secured their sixth-straight trip to the 2023 Audi MLS Cup Playoffs, their positioning is far from locked and will fluctuate potentially to Decision Day. Philly finds itself embroiled in a battle for the No. 2 spot in the table, sitting a single point behind current occupiers Orlando City SC. On the other side the Union are being chased too with the Crew, Atlanta United and New England all a point back. Nashville SC remains in the fight too despite being at the No. 7 slot with 44 points due to a game in hand along with the Revs. Philly’s season-ending schedule features matchups against all but Orlando.
The playoff-like stretch begins Saturday night where the Union and the Crew will meet for the second time in 2023 with their first clash coming back at the start of the season where the Boys in Blue picked up a resounding 4-1 victory in front of the Union faithful. Columbus jumped out to an early lead via an own goal but Daniel Gazdag converted from the penalty spot in first-half stoppage time to push the momentum toward the hosts. Philly rode that over the final 45 minutes as Julian Carranza bagged a brace and Gazdag netted his second penalty kick to see out the victory.
Columbus is quite a different side than that one that came to Subaru Park on February 25th with Head Coach Wilfred Nancy having totally installed his tactics into the team. Leading playmaker Lucas Zelarayan was transferred to Al Fateh of the Saudi Pro League and was replaced by former LAFC playmaker Diego Rossi. The 25-year-old Uruguayan hasn’t missed a beat since his return to MLS with two goals and two assists in seven matches for the Black and Gold. Communication in the back will be key as Rossi is far from the only weapon for the Crew with leading goalscorer Cucho Hernandez thriving off the home crowd to the tune of 13 goals. Christian Ramirez leads the team with eight assists and midfield veteran Darlington Nagbe and his team will be fully rested for the matchup having last played over the weekend to a 1-1 draw in Dallas.