After taking all three points at home in a 4-3 win over Real Salt Lake, Columbus Crew SC will be on the road for a mid-week clash with the Philadelphia Union on Wednesday.
After the Union came to MAPFRE Stadium and defeated the Black & Gold 2-1 in their first meeting on March 12th, Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter is aware of the challenge Philly presents.
“Every game is going to be a difficult game, and this is no exception,” he says. “They are certainly doing a good job, so it’s going to be hard.”
The Union currently sit atop the Eastern Conference standings, unbeaten in their last seven matches (2-0-5) since April 16th. Philly is one of the hottest teams in MLS right now, but Crew SC defender Michael Parkhurst says after the win over Real Salt Lake, the Black & Gold have the confidence to end the Union’s hot streak.
“We know they’re a team that battles hard. They play physical, they have that will and that desire, and we feel like if we can match that and let soccer take over the game, then we have a good chance of winning the game,” he says.
“So it’s going to be important that right from the start we show that we’re there for the fight, and I think that coming off that win, we’ve got the confidence to do that.”
Similarly to the match against Real Salt Lake, the depth of Crew SC will be tested again against the Union. A number of players will not be available for the match due to injury and international duty, meaning that Parkhurst will possibly be playing alongside a different center back for the fourth straight game.
For any other team this may be a challenge, but the Black & Gold veteran defender has complete faith in whomever he plays with.
“We look at a lot of things on film as a group, and so even if Ola was to play next to me he should know what a center back’s responsibilities are; whoever it is, we have to keep it as clean as possible,” Parkhurst says.
“Philadelphia’s a team that plays very direct. It’s not too much one-on-one up top, it’s not too much in behind; it’s getting a lot of balls in the box, playing for second balls. So we have to be ready to compete, and whoever is next to me will be ready to do that.”
Despite a quick turnaround, midfielder Justin Meram says that the Black & Gold will be prepared to face the leaders of the East.
“They are going to come out strong at home. They are at the top of the table so they’re going to be ready to fight,” he says. “We just have to be tuned in for 90 minutes because its going to be a battle for us.”
Crew SC and Philly kicks off at 7:30 p.m. at Talen Energy Stadium. Catch the match on CW Columbus, Time Warner Cable SportsChannel or BCSN2.