Columbus Crew vs. Philadelphia Union – MLS, April 18, 2021

| April 17, 2021 5:49 am PDT

The 2021 Major League Soccer schedule dishes up a heavyweight clash on the opening weekend, with defending MLS Cup champion Columbus hosting 2020 Supporters’ Shield winner Philadelphia on Sunday, April 18.

The Union finished six points ahead of the Crew in the Eastern Conference last season, although Caleb Porter’s men went on to clinch the top prize. Let’s not forget that Columbus also sealed back-to-back wins over Philly last year.

You can find my Columbus Crew vs. Philadelphia Union prediction and betting pick below.

Columbus Crew vs. Philadelphia Union Odds

Columbus Crew to Win1.83
The Draw3.50
Philadelphia Union to Wi3.85

The Union (3.85) may have claimed the Supporters’ Shield last season, yet the bookmakers expect the reigning MLS Cup champs to win this one.

As you can see, Columbus (1.83) is the bookmakers’ favorite heading into Sunday’s showdown – and it is difficult to argue with that viewpoint.

Before we get to my Columbus vs. Philadelphia pick, let’s take a closer look at both sides.

Previewing the Match

After losing just one of their opening 13 regular-season matches last term, the Crew looked set to challenge for the Supporters’ Shield. Five losses in their last ten games ended that dream, although Porter’s side went on to seal MLS Cup glory.

Center-back Jonathan Mensah was the only Columbus player named in the 2020 MLS Best XI. But in all honesty, guys like Gyasi Zardes and Lucas Zelarayan were unfortunate to miss out.

Zardes bagged 15 goals and five assists in 26 appearances last year, while Zelarayan (eight goals, three assists) enjoyed a stellar debut campaign in America.

The Crew crushed Real Esteli 4-0 in the CONCACAF Champions League last week, with Zardes scoring twice. Granted, the Nicaraguan champions are nowhere near as strong as the top teams in MLS. But Columbus will be more than happy to head into the new season on the back of a result like that.

Looking at the 2021 Columbus Crew roster, the Ohio outfit is destined for another successful year.

Following a dominant campaign, there is absolutely no denying that Philadelphia deserved to win the Supporters’ Shield last year.

Netting a whopping 44 goals, Jim Curtin’s men were the highest scorers in the Eastern Conference. On top of that, they also boasted the best defensive record in the division – conceding just 20 goals during the regular season.

Andre Blake – the 2020 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year – played a key role in the club’s Supporters’ Shield triumph, while Sergio Santos (11 goals, three assists) and Kacper Przybylko (eight goals, six assists) did the damage at the other end of the pitch.

The 2021 Philadelphia Union roster is without Mark McKenzie and Brenden Aaronson after the pair’s European departure. Still, the Union has plenty of exciting options.

It is important to remember that Philly was the only side to finish the previous campaign with a +2.00 points per game average.

Betting Pick for Columbus vs. Philadelphia

Pick
  • Columbus Crew to Win
    1.83

Ultimately, I expect Sunday’s match to be a closely fought encounter between two top teams. After all, both clubs claimed silverware last season, and both clubs will be eager to add to their trophy cabinets this year.

Having said that, I can see the Crew edging out the U on Sunday. Porter’s men got the better of Philadelphia on two occasions last term, so they clearly know what it takes to overcome their opening-day opponent.

Ben Morris
Ben Morris

Ben is a sportswriter and tipster who specializes in soccer. Currently based in the UK, he has traveled all around the world watching – and betting on – his beloved sport.

Alongside his regular soccer content, Ben publishes blogs and picks for cricket, Formula 1, Aussie rules, darts, and various other sports.

Ben is a diehard fan of Nottingham Forest and England, so he hasn’t had much to cheer about in recent years!

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