Columbus Crew SC look to wrap up a strong month of September with a clash against fellow Eastern Conference playoff contender, Philadelphia Union. Here are three things to watch for.
Columbus Crew (13-8-9) are sitting in fourth place in the Eastern Conference heading into their final four matches.
September has been a strong month for the club; they have been able to take seven points going 1-1-1 in matches against three opponents currently in playoff positions in NYCFC, FC Dallas and the Portland Timbers.
This past Saturday at Mapfre Stadium, a pair of goals from Gyasi Zardes and Federico Higuain were able to give Columbus the result as the game finished with a 2-1 victory for Columbus over Colorado Rapids. The team was clinical on the day in creating attacking opportunities with 10 shots on target and 10 corners.
Philadelphia Union, meanwhile, had a sluggish start to the month with a draw against a struggling Orlando City SC side, followed by a 4-1 loss to Montreal Impact at Talen Energy Stadium. Despite the slow start to the month, the Union picked up their performances last week. earning all six possible points.
The Union played in the U.S. Open Cup Final this past Wednesday losing 3-0 to the Houston Dynamo. The team came out in a full strength side with many of their key players getting the full 90 minutes. The third US Open Cup final loss for the club will certainly serve as a motivator for the players, but the midweek game fatigue could be something Crew SC look to capitalize on.
Looking ahead to Saturday’s match, here are the things three things Crew fans should look out for.
3. Battle between the posts
Both Crew SC and Philadelphia Union boast top MLS goalkeepers. Andre Blake is fourth in the league in saves with 105 while only allowing 45 goals in 29 matches. Zack Steffen is no slouch himself, the young goalkeeper has solidified his spot in the US Men’s National Team this season. Between the posts for Columbus, Steffen has posted nine clean sheets in 25 matches for the club.
Despite their success this season, neither team has been particularly successful in putting the ball into the back of the net themselves. Crew SC has only scored 39 goals, while the Philadelphia Union have scored 43 of their own.
With scoring opportunities potentially being rare for both teams on Saturday, it will be interesting to see which goalkeeper steps up when called upon. Goals have been at a premium and these two shot-stoppers will only make it more difficult.