Plenty at stake in Union, Crew clash

It is highly unlikely that the Philadelphia Union will make the playoffs this year, but there is still plenty to play for when the club heads to Crew Stadium to face the Columbus Crew on Saturday.

The Union still can spoil the postseason hopes of the Crew, who are within a point of a playoff position.

In addition, Philadelphia's squad is playing for a spot on next season's roster, and the coaching staff is looking to evaluate talent that has seen limited time on the field over the course of the season.

That was evident in Philadelphia's last outing, an emphatic 3-1 win over the Houston Dynamo.

Josue Martinez has found opportunities hard to come by this season, but he played the full match against Houston on Sunday and chipped in with the insurance goal late on.

"Really what it was is that Josue, along with a lot of our young attacking players, really need opportunities," Union head coach John Hackworth said. "[Josue] did a really good job of doing what he asked him to do in training and in our preparation. And that made a big difference for us."

Raymond Gaddis made his first start for the Union since August 24 and earned praise from Hackworth in the victory.

"Ray was excellent," Hackworth said. "The way he got forward in the first half, the energy that he brought, his defensive responsibility - I can't say enough about the kid and what he brings every single day.

"Right now he's playing behind Sheanon Williams and that's tough. But he shows his qualities every time he���s on the field."

While Hackworth may deploy another inexperienced side with such little on the line at this point in the season, Columbus will be looking to take advantage.

The Crew appeared to be in a strong position to nail down a postseason berth a month ago, but they have stumbled of late, losing three of their last four games. They are coming off of a 2-1 loss to the Chicago Fire last Saturday, their third straight loss on the road.

"It's still depending on us," said midfielder Milosan Mirosevic. "I think if we play like [Saturday], we will be closer to playoffs, even if we didn't win [Saturday].

"For sure it isn't a good result. This isn't a good sensation but I think [Saturday] we proved we can play against a really good team."

According to head coach Robert Warzycha, Columbus needs to tighten up at the back if the club hopes to advance beyond the regular season.

"The big thing is we're allowing the other team to score two or three goals," Warzycha said. "If we continue to do that, we're not going to be in the playoffs."