Crew-Union Preview


Eager to put last weekend's embarrassing loss behind them, a match against the winless Philadelphia Union might be just what the Columbus Crew need.

The Crew try to get back on track when they visit the Union on Saturday.

Columbus (2-2-0) entered last Saturday's home match against New York off a pair of shutout victories over Montreal and Toronto FC. Any chance of extending its scoreless streak quickly disappeared, though, as Red Bulls forward Kenny Cooper scored three minutes in.

Cooper scored again 11 minutes later and the Crew went into halftime trailing 3-0. Columbus played much more aggressively in the second half and captain Chad Marshall scored in the 89th minute on a header off a corner kick, but the Crew fell 4-1.

"Second half, we came out and went after (New York)," midfielder Kirk Urso told the Crew's official website. "We put on the pressure and I think we're going to have to win some balls, win some tackles, then look to possess and get forward like we did against New York in Philadelphia."

Columbus will try to take advantage of a Union team that is off to a shaky start.

Philadelphia (0-3-1) is one of two winless teams in the league and its problems were magnified last month when tension arose between coach Peter Nowak and captain Danny Califf. The two have reconciled, but the team has been shut out in its last two matches and has only two goals.

"Philly's kind of down and out and we want to take advantage of where they are," Crew forward Ethan Finlay said. "I think we're going to have plenty of momentum. We're upset about the 4-1 loss at home and we want to get back on a winning streak."

The Union are hoping a week off can help them fix their problems.

Philadelphia hasn't played since a scoreless draw with Vancouver on March 31. Califf played the entire game after being held out of the previous two because Nowak felt he wasn't 100 percent after undergoing offseason knee surgery, which upset the star defender.

Califf put together a strong showing in his return and anchored a defense that did not allow a shot on goal.

"I think he played a tremendous game," Nowak told the official MLS website. "I take my hat off to him. You have to be prepared physically and mentally and it was a very good game from Danny."

Califf's play made things easy for goalkeeper Zac MacMath, who is showing some improvement. After surrendering five goals in the first two matches, MacMath has yielded one in the last two.

"I think Zac came out and really took control of his box," Califf said of MacMath's play against the Whitecaps. "He came out well on crosses and so that was big for him. As a group in general it was a big confidence booster."

An even bigger one would be a victory. The Union are off to the worst start in their three-year history and are 0-6-2 dating to last season.

Philadelphia defeated Columbus 1-0 on Sept. 17 after being outscored 7-3 in losing the first three meetings.