MATCH PREVIEW: Columbus Crew SC Face Philadelphia Union in Group Stage of IMG Suncoast Pro Classic

Columbus Crew SC face Major League Soccer side Philadeplhia Union on Wednesday in their third and final Group Stage match of the IMG Suncoast Pro Classic.

Columbus Crew SC face Major League Soccer side Philadelphia Union in the IMG Suncoast Pro Classic, and look to improve to 3-0-0 in the Group Stage of the tournament. The contest will be the final match in group play for Crew SC.

The Black and Gold previously defeated London United 7-0 and the Costa Rica Under-23 National Team 2-0 in their first two Group Stage matches, and hope to finish out the group undefeated.

The match, played at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., will take place at 5 p.m. ET and will be streamed live on the Crew SC website.

After finishing in third place of the ATX Pro Challenge in Austin, Texas, Crew SC have found better success in Bradenton. With their performance so far in the Group Stage, the Black and Gold have positioned themselves to be in the tournament championship match with a win over Philadephia Union.

But the Union have also looked dominant in the Group Stage, defeating the Costa Rica U-23 team 3-0 and London United 6-0. Like Crew SC, they will be eager to bring home tournament hardware.

The Union squad is also eager to improve from a disappointing 2014 campaign that saw Philadelphia finish in sixth place in the Eastern Conference and miss out on the playoffs.

However, rather than gut the roster and start over from scratch, the Union opted to instead keep their core intact, led by U.S. National Team midfielder and World Cup veteran Maurice Edu, and add pieces to fill remaining holes in the roster. The biggest acquisition made by the Union this offseason was FC Nantes striker Fernando Aristeguieta, who will be called upon to make an immediate impact and lead the Union attack this season at 22 years old.

After playing a cupcake and a young squad so far in the tournament, the Black and Gold face their first real test in Philadelphia. Crew SC didn’t fare well against FC Dallas, the other MLS club they faced this preseason, losing 3-1 in the ATX Pro Challenge. However, Crew SC have improved since Austin, and should come away with a victory in this contest.

If the Black and Gold are able to win, they will play in the championship match on Feb. 28. For what it’s worth, the third-place match is the same day.

Make sure to follow along with Four Four Crew during the contest, and check back later for our recap with match observations.