Coming off a gutty 1-1 draw against league-leading Colorado to extend their unbeaten streak to seven games, the Philadelphia Union (5-3-5, 1st place Eastern Conference) once again play their third game in nine days or less and the last of six games in 22 days and welcome in the Columbus Crew (3-4-5, 9th place), who eked out a 4-3 win over Real Salt Lake on Saturday. The Union beat the Crew in Columbus 2-1 back on March 12th with new signing Chris Pontius scoring both goals.
Union will have to pay attention to striker Ola Kamara (3), who scored a hat trick in the above-mentioned win. He would be their leading scorer but for the player he replaced, the unrelated Kei Kamara (5), who was traded away earlier this month. Of Ola, Crew SC Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter said “Watching Ola in training and watching his movements, we felt very comfortable. It’s difficult as a striker when that pressure is put on you, but Ola has been handling it extremely well.”
Andre Blake will miss this match as he is in camp with the Jamaican national team training for Copa America Centenario. The Union coaching staff will make a decision between Matt Jones and John McCarthy for the start. Jones is higher up on the official depth chart and the more experienced as a back-up goalie; he is on loan from Portuguese first division club Belenenses, where he played in 10 games, allowing 12 goals while keeping one clean sheet. McCarthy has had the more recent action, starting for Bethlehem Steel FC with a record of 2-3-3, a save percentage of .733 and GAA 1.50, with one clean sheet. It will not be an easy choice for Jim Curtin and the Union’s goalkeeping coach, Oka Nikolov. Editor’s note: Matt Jones will start per Jim Curtin.
On the injury front, Vincent Nogueira is a hundred percent now and available. Joshua Yaro however will not be as he was receiving an MRI on his shoulder today. We may see Ilsinho put in another thirty minutes or so on the right as he works his way back into full match fitness.
Possible starting XI: Jones; Fabinho, Marquez, Tribbett, Rosenberry; Carroll, Nogueira; Pontius, Barnetta, Le Toux; Sapong
Prediction: On paper since the U lead the Crew in goals scored (18-15) as well as goals conceded (14-18), and both teams having played on Saturday, this game should be tilted towards Philadelphia. Even without Blake in goal I will go with 4-2 Philadelphia as the Union’s leading scorer CJ Sapong (5) gets a late goal to ice it.
Editor’s note: this preview has been updated with information provided by Jim Curtin during his press conference on Tuesday.