Franchises with slightly different objectives lock horns on Sunday, as the Columbus Crew entertain Philadelphia Union at Lower .com Field (7.30pm ET). While the visitors look to return to the summit of the Eastern Conference, the hosts will be trying to break into the coveted top seven.
Columbus Crew are in pleasing form, there can be no denying that. When their defeat at home to LAFC signalled two losses on the spin, it looked as though Caleb Porter’s men just weren’t going to get going this term, but they’ve turned things around in the weeks that have followed and are now unbeaten in four.
We’ve finally started to see the Crew of old, as they went away to Atlanta and returned with all three points, before holding off both Charlotte and RSL. Last time out, the men in yellow emerged victorious from another traveling fixture, thanks to first half strikes from Sean Zawadski and the ever-present Darlington Nagbe, so they really ought to approach this game full of confidence.
In contrast, Philly may be feeling a bit down ahead of this one. Sure, they’re in a great position, as they sit level on points with both Montreal and the New York Red Bulls at the top of the Eastern Conference, but they arrive here off the back of tasting defeat last time out. Not only did they lose, whilst failing to score in Chicago, but Sunday’s visitors have now won just one of their last four fixtures. Such form isn’t exactly becoming of a team looking to dominate the division, that’s for sure.
Blighted by inconsistency at home
On their day, the Crew have been typically tough to get the better of at home. The trouble is their day hasn’t come often enough, with them losing three, tying one and winning three out of seven in front of what is a reasonably expectant home crowd. In terms of goals scored, the hosts have struggled to be consistent too. On three occasions, they’ve scored two or more, notching four against Vancouver and three against D.C., though they have also failed to score on three occasions at home. They arrive at this junction having notched just four goals in their last five at Lower .com Field.
One area where they have kept things the same on a regular basis is at the back. At no point have Porter’s men shipped more than two goals at home this season, while they’ve conceded one or less in five out of seven, keeping two clean sheets. Only three teams have shipped fewer home goals in the Eastern Conference, while the Crew happen to be the second-best in the division when it comes to expected goals against.
Philly traveling wins have been rare
Just like the hosts haven’t been prolific in terms of positive results at home, Philly have struggled to always be at their best on the road, winning only three out of eight, winning just one of their last six on the road. In those six, they’ve failed to score just once, but have only scored twice in two out of six, which isn’t outstanding. Another similarity they share with the hosts is relative defensive solidity. The visitors have conceded just two goals in their last three on the road, while they have conceded more than twice at no point, conceding more than one in just two out of eight. The Union are currently the proud owners of the best traveling defensive record in the east.
Crew slacking in this fixture
It’s fair to say that this fixture has been utterly dominated by the Philadelphia Union in recent times. Sunday’s visitors have won each of the last three renewals and they’re now unbeaten in four against the Columbus Crew, who’ve now failed to score in each of their last four games against Philly.
Such a record doesn’t exactly bode well for the hosts. However, each of the last three renewals have all come in Philadelphia. On home soil, the Crew are unbeaten in four against the Union, which tells us that home advantage has been massive in this fixture in recent times. In fact, an away team hasn’t emerged victorious from this one since 2016.
If you’re interested in trends, here’s something interesting: Both teams have scored in just one of the last 13 meetings between the Crew and Union. Three or more goals have been scored in just four of those 13, including in just one of the last four.
This will be the second time that the pair have faced off this season. Back in April, Philly won by a goal to nil in front of a home crowd. Overall, in terms of clear-cut scoring opportunities, they just about warranted the narrow victory, leaving the field with a +0.80 expected goals supremacy.
Lack of goals on cards
In the betting with the best USA-friendly sports betting firms, going with a lack of goals appeals. For starters, although the Crew have been up and down at home, they’ve done a more than reasonable job defensively, conceding an average of just 1.00 goal per 90 minutes at home, while they only surrender an average of 1.08 xG.
The Union have surrendered an average of just a single goal per away game too, while both have made something of a habit of being involved in relatively low-scoring games in their respective home and away fixtures in recent times. Four of the last five Columbus home games have contained less than three goals. Similarly, less than three goals have been scored in only one of Philly’s last five on the road. On this basis, it would be little surprise if the game failed to produce a glut of goals on Sunday. So to conclude our betting predictions and picks for this Columbus Crew vs Philadelphia Union preview, this is the solitary selection against the bookies:
- Go under 2.5 goals @ -136 with Bovada.