MATCH RECAP: Columbus Crew SC Fall to Philadelphia Union in Penalty Kicks

Columbus Crew SC falls to Philadelphia Union in the IMG Suncoast Pro Classic, losing 1-1 (5-3) in a penalty shootout to decide the group winner.

Ninety minutes wasn’t enough to decide the match between Columbus Crew SC and Philadelphia Union in Wednesday’s Group Stage finale of the IMG Suncoast Pro Classic.

At the end of regulation, the two Major League Soccer sides were knotted at a goal apiece, sending the match into a decisive penalty shootout. In the shootout, the Union defeated Crew SC 5-3 to win the group and advance to the tournament championship round on Feb. 28. Following the defeat, Crew SC will play in the third-place match.

After Union forward Fernando Aristeguieta put Philadelphia on the board in the 27th minute, Crew SC midfielder Justin Meram was able to tie things up in the second half. In the 68th minute, Meram took the ball away from Philadelphia’s Michael Lahoud and chipped a shot into the back of the net on a breakaway.

Shortly thereafter, Crew SC goalkeeper Matt Lampson came up with a huge save in the 72nd minute to stop Union forward Connor Casey’s penalty kick and ensure that the match remained level.

In the shootout, Tyson Wahl, Aaron Schoenfeld, and Ben Speas all converted their penalty kicks, but Philadelphia was able to net all five of their attempts to come away with the victory.

The Black and Gold will play MLS rivals Toronto FC in the third-place match of the IMG Suncoast Pro Classic on Saturday, Feb. 28 at 5 p.m. ET. Toronto fell to New York Red Bulls 2-0 in the finale of the other group. ***CORRECTION: Crew SC will play OKC Energy FC, NOT Toronto FC, in the third-place match. Toronto FC will play in the fifth-place match versus the Costa Rica U-23 Team.

Match Observations

  • With defender Hernan Grana still on parental leave, Hector Jimenez started at right back for the second consecutive match. Headed into the season opener, it appears that Grana has the starting spot locked up, with Jimenez being the backup. That leaves Chris Klute to backup Waylon Francis on the left side, which he has done for the last two contests. However, moving forward I expect Klute to push for a starting spot as he becomes more acclimated to head coach Gregg Berhalter’s system.
  • It appears that Meram and newcomer Kristinn Steindorsson are still battling for a starting spot. After starting Meram in the first two matches of the Group Stage, Berhalter elected to go with Steindorsson in Wednesday’s group finale. However, Meram came on as a sub in the second half and knotted things up with his goal. So far this preseason, both players have made the most of the opportunities, scoring goals and making positive impacts with their playing time.