Columbus got off to a winning start in the Disney Pro Soccer Classic, downing Toronto F.C. 1-0 in the opening game of the tournament.
Philadelphia, coming off a 1-1 draw with Orlando S.C., will square off against the Crew on Wednesday at 1 p.m.
You can watch a live stream of the match right here at www.philadelphiaunion.com/live.
For Robert Warzycha's team, this offseason was all about retooling an aging defense, while rounding out an offense and midfield that looked solid down the stretch in 2012. Columbus finished with a record of 15-12-7 and missed out on the playoffs by just a single point.
For starters, Columbus parted ways with five defenders this Winter: Julius James, Sebastian Miranda, Nemanja Vukovic, Rich Balchan, and Carlos Mendes. Warzycha brought in Brazilian center half Glauber from the Romanian league, and added experienced American left back Tyson Wahl.
Those moves allow Josh Williams to shift over to right fullback, with captain Chad Marshall anchoring the defense. Eric Gehrig is an experienced backup in the middle, while youngsters Chad Barson, Drew Beckie, Reed Matte, and Jordan Gafa are also in camp.
The Crew also parted ways with midfielders Dilly Duka, Milovan Mirosevic, and Chris Birchall. The club brought in South Americans Matias Sanchez and Augustin Viana to fill those gaps.
Offensively, Columbus found great success with the midseason acquisitions of Federico Higuain and Jairo Arrieta. This year, they went out and brought in Dominic Oduro to add some speed to the frontline, while second year man Aaron Schoenfeld and draft pick Ryan Finley bring depth and youth to strike corps.
Longtime goalkeeper William Hesmer, who won the 2008 MLS Cup with the Crew, also moved on this Winter.
F - Tommy Heinemann (Vancouver Whitecaps)
F - Olman Vargas (Herediano)
M - Chris Birchall (Port Vale)
M – Milovan Mirosevic (Universidad Catolica)
M - Dilly Duka (Chicago Fire)
M - Cole Grossman (Real Salt Lake)
D - Nemanja Vukovic (unattached)
D - Rich Balchan (on trial with Chicago Fire)
D - Julius James (unattached)
D - Sebastián Miranda (Everton de Viña del Mar)
D - Carlos Mendes (NY Cosmos)
GK - William Hesmer (unattached)
Glauber, D – A big Brazilian center back who joins the Crew from Romania's Rapid Bucuresti. The six foot three defender scored the lone goal in the win against Toronto, and had prior stints with Nuremburg, Palmeiras, and Atletico Mineiro. He's 29 years old.
Matias Sanchez, M – An Argentine playmaker, Sanchez was picked up from Estudiantes in his home country. The 25 year old began his career with Racing Club and played on the Argentine squad that won the 2007 U-20 World Cup. He's likely to be a direct replacement for Mirosevic behind the Columbus forwards.
Augustin Viana, D – Viana is a holding midfielder who can also play on the backline. He's an American-born Uruguayan and last played for Montevideo side Bella Vista. Viana started in the holding role in last Saturday's preseason game.
Dominic Oduro, F – MLS fans should be familiar with the speedy forward, who spent the last two years with Chicago. After the Fire brought in Chris Rolfe and Sherjill MacDonald, Oduro lost his starting spot and came to Columbus in the trade that sent Dilly Duka in the opposite direction.
Tyson Wahl, D – Wahl was one of the few left back prospects in the re-entry draft. He was not selected in either round, but signed with the Crew a short time later.
Chad Marshall, D – Columbus' talismanic captain is closing in on 225 appearances for the club. The former American international is excellent inside the box, and rarely loses aerial challenges. He's spent his entire career with the Crew.
Federico Higuain, M/F – The brother of Real Madrid striker Gonzalo Higuain, the Argentine made an immediate impact after joining last Summer. Pairing with advanced striker Jairo Arrieta, he provided 5 goals and 7 assists in just 13 appearances.
Eddie Gaven, M – He's the Crew's midfield engine, patrolling the right side of the pitch with a motor that's second to none. Gaven scored 9 goals last season and was Columbus' co-leader in that department. It's hard to believe that Gaven, who has been in the league since 2003, is only 26 years old. He's pushing 200 appearances for the Crew.
Andy Gruenebaum, GK – A lot of media types considered Gruenebaum to be an All-Star snub last year. He lead the league with 124 saves and came in second in games played, minutes played, and shots faced. His save percentage was among the top 3 for goalkeepers who played at least 25 games.
Contact Union writer Kevin Kinkead at firstname.lastname@example.org