The Columbus Crew are competing for the top spot in the Eastern Conference, while the Philadelphia Union are simply trying to end their playoff drought.
Columbus looks to tie a franchise record with a third straight road victory Saturday night when it faces Philadelphia.
The Crew (11-9-8) appear to be in satisfactory shape for a second straight postseason appearance. They're in third place in the East & in striking distance of New York & D.C. as they seek their first first-place complete since 2009. The Red Bulls may have a slight edge with three matches in hand on both, though New England is only a point behind Columbus while Toronto trails by four.
p>"We're chasing the top teams – D.C. & the Red Bulls. We're right in there," midfielder Wil Trapp told the club's official website. "… So any game we can obtain closer & even become level with D.C. is huge… Yeah, the playoff push is there. It's in our own destiny, so we're taking advantage of it."
Columbus hopes to take advantage of a Philadelphia team which is winless in its last three home matches. The Crew won at Colorado & New York City in their last two road games & have never won more than three straight, most recently doing so in 2007.
They need to bounce back from a rough 3-0 loss to FC Dallas on Sunday after scoring at least two goals in each of its previous seven matches. The Crew played without MLS leading scorer Kei Kamara, however, & he's expected to be back after representing Sierra Leone in an African Cup of Nations qualifier. He has a goal & four assists in his last five meetings with Philadelphia.
The Union (8-14-6) are one point behind sixth-place Montreal for the conference's final playoff spot, showing signs of life lately with wins in two of three – matching its victory total from the previous 10 matches.
Conor Casey came on in the 60th minute & scored twice on headers in a 2-1 win at San Jose last Saturday. He had three goals in his previous 21 matches.
The key for Philadelphia will be sustaining its momentum. The Union have won consecutive matches only once this season, & the only time they've reached the playoffs was 2011.
"People remember how you complete a season & that's the one thing we can still control right now is how we finish," coach Jim Curtin told the team's official website. "… So the guys took the first step & received a satisfactory win on the road. We recognize, though, that will mean nothing if we don't do the same thing against Columbus."
The Crew have won three of four away from home after going winless in their first nine road matches. That slump included a 3-0 loss at Philadelphia on June 3 as Sebastien Le Toux had a goal & an assist.
The Crew are 3-4-0 there all-time yet own a 9-4-1 series edge overall, winning 4-1 at home on April 25. The Union are trying to win the season series for the first time.
Le Toux has five assists in his last six against the Crew.
Philadelphia's Cristian Maidana is out while completing a two-game suspension after receiving a red card for spitting at New England's Lee Nguyen in a 1-0 loss Aug. 29.
Sports & RecreationColumbus CrewPhiladelphia Union