If you feel like you’re having déjà vu as a Union fan at the moment, it’s probably because you are. The Union (9-10-12) sit just four points out of the fifth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with just three games to go. The team in fifth place? The Columbus Crew (11-10-10) who play the Union twice down the stretch, including the last game of the season.
A season ago, the Union failed to make the playoffs by just three points, dropping a must-win game at home to Sporting Kansas City 2-1. They’re hoping not to face a similar fate this season, but they have to beat the Crew on Saturday.
“The two Columbus games coming up are huge,” said Union manager Jim Curtin. “We’re probably going to have to take six points from them, that seems pretty clear, and you’ll need a little help. If you look at Toronto’s schedule, it’s not easy. Everybody has some tough games. We know we let things slip away against Chicago, and we’re disappointed about it, but we’re going to have to put all of the results behind us and focus on one soccer game.”
From July 16 until September 6, the Union compiled a 5-1-2 record. Since then, they’ve gone a winless 0-1-3. Against Chicago this past Saturday, the Union held a 1-0 lead in the 88th minute off of a strike from Amobi Okogu, only to see the lead slip away in stoppage time. It’s been that type of season for the Union who have seemed to come up just short in the biggest moments.
“All of the good performances, all of the bad performances, they kind of mean nothing at this stage of the game,” said Curtin. “It’s down to us versus Columbus on our home field.”
The Crew won the first meeting between the two teams 2-1 back in March, but they’ll be facing a different Union team this time around. Jack McInerney, now with the Montreal Impact, was the central piece of the Union’s offensive attack. They’ll face a much more balanced attack on Saturday.
The game will air on Saturday at 7 p.m. on the Comcast Network.