COLUMBUS, Ohio — In a tight Eastern Conference race for playoff seeding, the Union came into Columbus facing a struggling Crew team that hadn’t secured a home victory since July 20. Although the Union needed the win more than the mathematically eliminated Crew, it was the home side that came out with a 2-0 victory.
The first half was listless, as both teams struggled to create anything offensively. Weather conditions deteriorated as a rainstorm arrived and affected the play on the field. Neither team produced many dangerous chances. The Union had zero shots on target, and Columbus only had two. The only notable first-half event for Philadelphia was a noncontact injury to team captain Alejandro Bedoya in the 44th minute. After playing a pass, Bedoya went down grabbing his right quad. After being attended to by trainers, the midfielder was subbed out for Warren Creavalle. An update on his status was not immediately available.
After a half-hour severe-weather delay during halftime, the Union came out of the locker room with a renewed sense of purpose. The New England Revolution’s victory over New York City FC meant that the Union was now in control of their own destiny for the top spot in the conference.
However, it was Columbus that played as if its season was still on the line. Youness Mokhtar scored his first goal of the season in the 69th minute, and Pedro Santos added a goal just four minutes later. Philadelphia was unable to recover.
“Obviously disappointed not to come away with points," Union manager Jim Curtin said. "Finishing up a three-game road trip, a couple of results went our way tonight, but we weren’t able to capitalize. We got a little too greedy and aggressive and left ourselves a little bit exposed at the back.”
The Union stand third heading into the final week of the season. Tied with Atlanta United on points, the first tiebreaker of total wins is not in their favor. The only way to get the second seed is to beat NYCFC and have Atlanta tie or lose against the Revolution.
“The games went in our favor so we want to go back out and get a win. Obviously that didn’t happen,” said winger Fafa Picault, “We need to regroup for next week, not just for the points, but for the confidence and morale.”
Despite the fact that Columbus hadn’t held a clean sheet in an MLS game since April 6, the Union were unable to find the back of the net. Picault credited that more to missed opportunities than to the Crew’s performance.