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Match preview: Philadelphia Union vs. Columbus Crew SC

The return leg of the home-and-home may not technically be a must win game, but it still feels like one.

MLS: Philadelphia Union at Columbus Crew SC
The last match, summed up in one photo.
Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

Game: Philadelphia Union vs. Columbus Crew SC

Date: Wednesday, July 25th

Time: 7:30 p.m. Eastern, 6:30 p.m. Central, 4:30 p.m. Pacific, 11:30 p.m. UTC

Venue: Talen Energy Stadium (Chester, Pa.)

Referees: Not available at time of publish

Television: The Comcast Network (Philadelphia area)

Streaming: MLS Live

All-time record:

The Union have won seven, lost eleven, and drawn just one match against Columbus. In their last meeting, the Union lost 1-0 off of a Justin Meram goal.

What Philadelphia will look like

The Union will still be without Chris Pontius and Andre Blake, as the teammates are set to face off against one another as the United States and Jamaica play for the Gold Cup. John McCarthy has been solid in net for the Union in Blake’s absence and will all but certainly get the nod against the Crew.

As for Pontius’ replacement, that’s up in the air. Marcus Epps started on the right side and did fairly well, but the Union may play Ilsinho on the right with Adam Najem at central attacking midfielder and Fafa Picault on the left provided Picault has recovered from the hamstring injury that sidelined him against the Crew on Saturday. Roland Alberg could see another start if the midfield shuffle needs to happen, however Alberg hasn’t shown much more than Najem, and Najem has the bonus of definitely being with the Union next season.

With any luck, Picault and CJ Sapong will return from their injuries. Jay Simpson was ineffectual against Columbus’ defense. At times Simpson looked like he was trying to do too much, and at other times he looked completely lost.

What Columbus will look like

Columbus used a 3-4-3 against the Union fairly well, limiting Philadelphia to just three shots on the evening. Gregg Berhalter isn’t a very imaginative manager, so he will most likely stick with the same formation and lineup as last time.

What to expect

The Union still need to get things figured out in terms of their offense. Jim Curtin isn’t one to tinker too much with the lineup, but something has to change from Saturday. A 1-0 loss with just three shots from a team that was in the top ten in goals scored is inexcusable. The attacking four players have to step up and perform like the season depends on it - because it very well may.