The Major League Soccer returns on Saturday and the Philadelphia Union, also known as the Eastern Conference reigning champions, will play host to Columbus Crew, a team that’s thirsty for revenge after missing the 2022 playoffs by two points.
As expected, the Union dominate the MLS lines, but last season no team lost fewer games away from home than the Crew.
Union: Everyone is Back
Last season, the Philadelphia Union finished atop the standings in the Eastern Conference with 67 points, same as Los Angeles FC, the team that won the Western Conference. Overall, no other team scored more goals than the Union with 72. As if that wasn’t enough, the Boys in Blue also finished with the best defensive record after only conceding 26 goals.
In the postseason, the Union defeated FC Cincinnati and New York City FC to qualify for the MLS Cup final, in which they drew 3-3 to LAFC. The Boys from Hollywood ended up getting the title after winning the penalty shootout 3-0.
After such a successful season, it’s incredible that the team managed to retain all its starters, which is one of the main reasons for them to come in as the betting online favorites at -145. The other one is that they’ve won a club-record 11 straight home games.
Individually, Daniel Gazdag is Philly’s top guy. Last season, he scored 22 goals. Only Hany Mukhtar from Nashville SC scored more with 23. Gazdag has his sights set on the Golden Boot. Scoring on Matchday 1 would be a very strong message for all other contenders.
Crew: Redemption Season?
After winning the MLS Cup in 2020, the Columbus Crew failed to qualify for the playoffs in the last two seasons. In 2021, they finished ninth in the Eastern Conference. Last season, they finished eighth.
The talent is there, no doubt about it. Last season, only the Union conceded fewer goals than the Crew. Plus, the Boys in Gold tied an MLS record by drawing 10 of their 17 away matches. No team lost fewer games away from home than Columbus. Finally, last Saturday, they defeated Hartford Athletic 2-1 in their last preseason game. Yes, the game was on the road.
Regarding the attacking unit, you should keep an eye on Cucho Hernandez. Last season, he scored five goals and had three assists when playing on the road. There’s also Lucas Zelarayan, who scored 10 goals last season.
All of the above should be enough to consider the visitors a tempting underdog, but there’s more. They’re offering a +400 price in the sportsbook to win straight up, meaning a $100 wager could turn into a $500 payout.
Philadelphia vs Columbus Head-to-Head
- Previous Matches: 32
- Philadelphia Union Victories: 12 (40 goals)
- Columbus Crew Victories: 15 (37 goals)
- Draws: 5
Last season, these two met twice. First, the Union won 1-0 at Subaru Park thanks to an own goal scored by Eloy Room. Later, they drew 0-0 in a very physical game. The referee ended up showing seven yellow cards.
The Union are unbeaten in five straight matches against the Crew, finishing with a clean sheet in all five games. Another clean sheet on Saturday would tie the record for most consecutive clean sheets against a single rival. That’s just an extra dose of motivation.
Philadelphia vs Columbus Match Information
- Match: Philadelphia vs Columbus
- Date/Time: Saturday, Feb. 25, 7:30 p.m. ET
- Location: Subaru Park, Chester, PA
- Philadelphia vs Columbus Live Stream: fubo.tv
Philadelphia vs Columbus Betting Lines
Philadelphia vs Columbus Picks and Prediction
Again, it’s a miracle that the Philadelphia Union managed to retain all their starters, including Gazdag and goalkeeper Andre Blake, who last season won the award for Best Goalkeeper for the third time. In other words, we’re talking about a well-balanced team. As head coach Jim Curtin said: “We know how to hide each other’s weaknesses.” Go ahead and include the home side winning by two goals in your MLS picks.
The Union is listed at -145 in our Vegas MLS lines. This means that if you wager $100 on Union, you have a chance to win $69. Crew is +400, offering a chance to win $400 on a $100 wager.
The implied probability attached to the betting lines gives Union a 59.18% chance to win, with Crew at 20%.