In a match neither team seemed particularly bent on winning, the Philadelphia Union and the Columbus Crew split the points on Saturday night in Columbus.
Union first XI: Andre Blake; Fabinho, Mark McKenzie, Auston Trusty, Keegan Rosenberry; Haris Medunjanin, Warren Creavalle (Jones 74′); Fafa Picault, Alejandro Bedoya, C.J. Sapong (Dockal 82′); Cory Burke (Simpson 90′)
Columbus first XI: Steffen; Afful, Jonathan, Abubakar (Williams 55′), Valenzuela; Artur, Trapp; Santos (Hansen 67′), Higuain (Sosa 72′), Meram; Zardes
The Union and Crew traded possession and pressure early, with the Crew exploiting the space left open by Keegan Rosenberry playing up on the left side over and over again. Justin Meram and Federico Higuain combined time after time in this space, but to little avail. The best chance in the half came in the 37th minute from a Cory Burke attempt from the side of the goal which went off of a Crew player in front of the goal and trickled in. However, after over a minute of listening to the Crew complain to him, the referee went to VAR and ruled that Burke had fouled to gain possession of the ball, and waved the goal off.
The second half saw physical play increase. Zack Steffen came out to get a ball that Cory Burke was going for and ended up undercutting Burke, but the foul was called on Burke. The referee for his part did not seem interested in calling much of anything the Union’s way on this night, as it seemed most of the fifty-fifty chances that resulted in fouls went against the U. The Crew ended up making all of their subs before the Union, replacing a defender in the 55th minute for their first. The Union didn’t sub until the 74th minute, and it was a defensive sub as well, as both gaffers seemed more intent on not losing than winning. Sure, Borek Dockal came on for C.J. Sapong… in the 81st minute. Blake was called on to make one diving save. Overall, it was a rather lackluster match, as both teams combined for a total of two shots on goal.
It’s hard to quantify what it was about this match, but it seemed like both teams lacked the necessary urgency to take all three points. This may have been with good reason; a draw put each team closer to a playoff bid. A Union win would have put the Crew two points behind the Union and into the fifth playoff slot, meaning they’d have to travel to Philadelphia if the standings held for a playoff match. Meanwhile, a Crew win would have put the Union four points back of the Crew and given teams like Montreal and D.C. a chance to gain significant ground on the U.
Jack Elliot missed this match due to his two game suspension for yellow card accumulation and the red card that followed it. He’ll be available for selection next Saturday at home against Minnesota.