While it’s not surprising that the Philadelphia Union and Columbus Crew played to another scoreless draw in Columbus on Sunday, it was a point the Union can fully credit to their most valuable player.
Andre Blake saved a penalty and was his usual brick wall in a match where the Union finished with a 0.3 xG to the Crew’s 1.5. The lack of generating anything going forward was in part a credit to the Crew’s defensive play but was also what one might expect from a team trying a new formation (3-5-2) and not getting much by way of service to the front line.
Chris Donovan earned his first MLS start, pairing with Cory Burke and while Donovan showed his ability to win aerial duels and create half chances off them, the Union struggled to get numbers in the box and combine. The formation had the opposite effect on the defensive end as inserting Stuart Findlay into the back line made the wall in front of Blake even more formidable.
Olivier Mbaizo earned the start and the addition of Findlay served as cover for Jose Martinez, who was serving a red card suspension. Julian Carranza had the biggest chance of the day (and one of only two shots on target) after coming off the bench but Eloy Room — whose early own goal was the only goal in the team’s last two meeting in Chester — came up with a big save of his own to keep the zero for the hosts.
While the numbers don’t show a team in great goal-scoring form — they’re at 22 goals in 18 games — the Union still has conceded the fewest amount of goals in the league this season at 13 in 18 games. Columbus has the second fewest goals conceded at 18 goals in 17 games.
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