Philadelphia Union vs. Columbus Crew SC
2017 MLS Match Preview
Talen Energy Stadium – Chester, Pennsylvania
Wednesday, July 26 – 7:30 pm ET
WATCH: MLS LIVE
Could Columbus Crew SC be heading into the sort of summer run that helped propel them to the 2015 MLS Cup Final? That's starting to look like a possibility.
Two years ago, Columbus went 6-2-2 in July and August. This time around, they're 2-1-0 in July, with back-to-back victories after last weekend's 1-0 home win over Philadelphia, and have won three of their last four to climb above the playoff line in the Eastern Conference.
You know who'd love some payback, though? That same Union side, who host Crew SC on Wednesday. Philadelphia are in serious need of a three-point take at home; they've lost their two most recent outings and are on a three-match winless streak that has seen them drop to ninth in the Eastern Conference table.
Even on their home pitch, the Union could be in for another rough night if Fafa Picault (left hamstring strain) and C.J. Sapong (right ankle sprain) -- both of whom missed the weekend match – are out again on Wednesday.
Over the last eight matches, Philadelphia have scored just seven times. Picault has three of those goals. Sapong has scored once from the penalty spot and created another successful penalty opportunity.
At least they'll get Roland Alberg back for this one, after Alberg sat out over the weekend on a one-match suspension handed down by the MLS Disciplinary Committee.
- Suspended: None
- Int’l Duty: M Chris Pontius (USA), GK Andre Blake (Jamaica)
- Injury Report: OUT: M Maurice Edu (left ankle/left tibia surgery recovery), F Fabian Herbers (sports hernia surgery recovery), M Derrick Jones (concussion); QUESIONABLE: M Fafa Picault (left hamstring strain), F CJ Sapong (right ankle sprain)
Projected Starting XI (4-2-3-1, left to right): GK: John McCarty — Giliano Wijnaldum, Jack Elliott, Joshua Yaro, Raymon Gaddis – Alejandro Bedoya, Haris Medunjanin — Ilsinho, Adam Najem, Fafa Picault — CJ Sapong
Notes: Philadelphia have now lost two games in a row. If they lose against Columbus on Wednesday night, it will be their third losing streak of at least three games in the 2017 season ... The Union have won five of their last six MLS home games (1L) with four clean sheets (outscoring the opposition 11-3 over the six games).
Columbus Crew SC
Much has been made of Justin Meram's snub from the MLS All-Star Game despite nine goals and six assists so far this season, and his shrugging off the event as a "celebrity match." But while Meram has driven a lot of Crew SC's success this season, Kekuta Manneh might wind up being the story of the summer.
When Manneh arrived in Columbus on a trade from Vancouver in late March but couldn't crack the lineup, fans wondered what was going on. Then he started getting minutes. Then he hurt his foot, raising (unfounded, as it turned out) fears that he might be out with a second straight season-ending injury.
It turned out to be a bone bruise, however, and Manneh is starting to find himself with Crew SC, scoring twice in their last four matches. If he can get hot, that would go a long way toward bolstering Columbus' chances of regaining the postseason.
- Suspended: None
- Int’l Duty: None
- Injury Report: OUT: D Gaston Sauro (left PCL surgery), M Ben Swanson (right ankle surgery), M Federico Higuain (right knee sprain); QUESTIONABLE: M Niko Hansen (hernia surgery)
Projected Starting XI (3-4-2-1, left to right): GK: Zack Steffen – Lalas Abubakar, Alex Crognale, Jonathan Mensah – Jukka Raitala, Wil Trapp, Mohammed Abu, Hector Jimenez – Justin Meram, Kekuta Manneh – Ola Kamara
Notes: Columbus' 1-0 win over Philadelphia at the weekend gives them two consecutive wins, only the second time all year they have won multiple games in a row (March 18-April 1, 3 games). ... Both wins were 1-0 score lines, the first time all year that Crew SC have had back-to-back clean sheets.
- Overall: Columbus 11 wins (31 goals) …Philadelphia 7 wins (28 goals) … Ties 1
- At Columbus: Columbus 6 wins (19 goals)) … Philadelphia 2 wins (12 goals) … Ties 1