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Columbus Crew vs Philadelphia Union Odds & Prediction – MLS Week 1

Paul Attfield

by Paul Attfield in Soccer

Apr 17, 2021 · 2:05 PM PDT

Gyasi Zardes, Forward, Columbus Crew
Columbus Crew forward Gyasi Zardes (11) attempts a shot during an MLS soccer match against FC Cincinnati, Saturday, July 11, 2020, in Kissimmee, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)
  • MLS Cup-champion Columbus Crew kick off their title defense by hosting Philadelphia Union on Sunday, April 18
  • Both teams are coming off impressive 5-0 aggregate CONCACAF Champions League victories this week 
  • Read on for a full preview, odds, and the best bet for Sunday’s MLS season opener

The last time the Columbus Crew played an MLS game, they were busy putting the finishing touches on arguably the most dominant MLS Cup win of all-time, with their 3-0 victory over the defending-champion Seattle Sounders the most one-sided scoreline in the title game’s history.

Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Union had designs on being in that championship match after winning the Supporters’ Shield as the best regular-season team, but were unexpectedly upended in the first round proper of the playoffs. Now the two powerhouse Eastern Conference teams prepare to kick off their 2021 campaigns on Sunday, April 18, in what looks to be one of the most tightly contested, high-quality matches of Major League Soccer’s opening weekend.

Crew vs Union Odds

Matchup Spread Moneyline at Fox Bet Total
Columbus Crew vs
Philadelphia Union
COL -1.0 (+225) | PHI +1.0  (-110) COL -118 | PHI +290
DRAW +245
Ov 2.5 (-118) | Un 2.5 (-118)

All odds as of April 16

Crew Rolling Into New Season

With a largely unchanged roster, bolstered by the addition of veteran attackers Kevin Molino and Bradley Wright-Phillips, Columbus is looking like one of the early favorites to challenge for another MLS Cup, although Molino will miss the early going with an injury.

And if the team already looked formidable on paper, it proved to be pretty formidable in actuality, too, with their two-legged CONCACAF Champions League win over CD Real Esteli of Nicaragua. The Crew took a stranglehold on the tie with a 4-0 road win, before advancing with a 1-0 home victory on Thursday. Last season’s leading scorer, Zyasi Gardes, warmed up for this game with a brace in Nicaragua, while Wright-Phillips got off the mark for his new club in the return.

Philly Off To A Flier

Whatever Columbus can do, Philadelphia was only too happy to match this week, winning 4-0 at home to accompany its 1-0 away victory in Costa Rica against Deportivo Saprissa – in the Union’s first ever competitive international fixture.

And last season’s leading scorer, Kacper Przybylko, got his 2021 season off to a flier too, with a goal in each leg.

Columbus Safe At Home

As far as the head-to-head rivalry goes, the Crew are on top, especially at home in Ohio. Caleb Porter’s team is undefeated in the past six games between the two sides at Historic Crew Stadium, a run that features five wins.

Columbus also won the only two matches between the sides last year – which were both played in Ohio – with a single goal separating the teams on each occasion. In fact, Jamiro’s second-half penalty in the second fixture last year ended a run of 521-minute goalless run for the Union in Columbus.

Conversely though, the Union are undefeated in their last four meetings with Columbus back in Philadelphia.

Columbus Crew vs Philadelphia Union Stats

Columbus Crew
Philadelphia Union
12-6-5 2021 MLS Record (W-L-D) 14-5-4
36 Goals Scored 44
21 Goals Against 20
30.8 xGoals 35.5
29.9 xGoals Against 25.5

Union Slow Out Of The Gate

Philadelphia has developed something of a reputation as a slow starter throughout its 11-year history, . The team has a record of two wins, six losses and three draws in its 11 season openers so far – all of which have been on the road. Philly last won a season opener back in 2018.

The same can hardly be said for Columbus. Although the Crew are hovering around .500, with a record of just 10-9-6 in season openers, at home they’ve been nothing but dominant, going 13-3-9 there. If that record doesn’t present enough of an obstacle for Philadelphia, it might want to consider that Columbus is also undefeated in its last four season openers.

Philadelphia Exodus

The Union will also have to deal with the loss of a pair of influential players this season. Midfielder Brenden Aaronson left for RB Salzburg in Austria, while key defender Mark McKenzie headed to Belgium with Genk. The team will also have to replace the franchise’s all-time leader in minutes played when Ray Geddis retired in the off-season.

However, that transition will be helped by having reigning MLS Goalkeeper of the Year, Andre Blake, backstopping the Union defense.

Best bet: Columbus Crew -1.0 (+225)

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