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Union aim to continue strong play vs. Crew

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The Philadelphia Union have an opportunity at home Sunday to go unbeaten against Columbus this season and possibly deal the Crew a blow in their bid to defend last year’s MLS CUp title.

Philadelphia (10-7-9, 39 points) has taken four points from the Crew (9-11-7, 34 points), a scoreless draw at Columbus in the April 18 season opener and a 1-0 victory at home on June 23.

Columbus entered play Saturday in ninth place in the Eastern Conference, five points back of the seventh and final postseason spot. The Crew have seven matches left.

Philadelphia is one of four teams with 39 points, one shy of third-place D.C. United.

“We want to take as many points as possible,” Union coach Jim Curtin said. “The end goal is to host a playoff game, not just get in.”

Columbus has two wins and a draw in its past three MLS games. The Crew also defeated Cruz Azul 2-0 on Wednesday in a matchup of the reigning MLS and Mexican league champions for their first international trophy.

It was a confidence boost for the Crew, but coach Caleb Porter knows Philadelphia presents another challenge.

“They, in a few games, have adjusted their shape, mostly based on the personnel they’ve had,” he said. “You know what you get with Philly. They’re very good at executing their philosophy and their system that they play – their game model.”

The Union also are 2-0-1 in the past three matches. Their most recent game resulted in a 1-1 draw with a desperate New York Red Bulls team.

“We said it with Red Bull and we’ll say it again with Columbus, these are great teams that are now fighting for every point,” Curtin said. “There’s not many games left and one of the hardest things to do is play your best in a big pressure game against a good opponent that has a little bit of desperation to get three points.”

— Field Level Media

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