Backed by the contributions of young players, the resurrected Columbus Crew is hosting the Philadelphia Union on Sunday to extend their undefeated run to five games.
Crew (5-5-6, 21 points) won 2-1 in Toronto FC on Wednesday, with 19-year-old Jasen Russelllow assisting both goals at the first MLS start. One of them is Sean Zawajuki (22 years old) who participated in the second league match. Zawadzki and Aidan Morris, 20, started in the midfield with veteran Darlington Nagbe, who scored a second goal.
"Aidan, I haven't lost since he joined the team (3-0-4 in 7 starts). I'm proud of these two guys. "I think Jasen did a great job. It's good to have young people with old people like me."
Philadelphia ( 7-2-8, 29 points) will fall 1-0 in Chicago on Wednesday and will be missed after midfielder Jose Martinez is sent off with a yellow card vs. fire.
"It will change the way we play," said Union coach Jim Curtin. "Jose is one of the few guys in our league, he can play diamonds himself and work with a few guys, but we strongly believe in our depth."
This includes contributions from young players such as Chris Donovan, who have played in two games since the convocation from the Reserve Team (Union II).
"Chris was a great story. He came and he really helped us," Curtin said. "Unfortunately it was down on the guy (Wednesday) and had to play a slightly different role we wanted, but at the same time he gives you a really good aerial battle."
The crew has been 2-0-2 in the last four games and Curtin knows what to expect from his Eastern Conference rivals.
"It's a really well-trained team, a team that's hard to collapse, and very good at the ball," he said.
– Field-level media