Columbus, OH (SportsNetwork.com) - Columbus Crew SC will aim to extend their run of positive form on Saturday when the club welcomes the Philadelphia Union to Mapfre Stadium.
Columbus entered the 2015 season as many pundits' pick to reach MLS Cup final out of the Eastern Conference, but the team struggled through the first month of the season with a win and two losses in March.
But the club has yet to lose in April, entering Saturday on a three-match unbeaten streak following draws against Vancouver and New England and a comfortable 3-0 rout of Orlando City last time out.
It was a day to forget for Orlando City defender Rafael Ramos, who gifted the hosts the lead after 32 minutes when his atrocious attempt at a clearance fell to Ethan Finlay. The Crew midfielder settled the ball and sent a low cross in front of goal that was met by Federico Higuain, who flicked the ball behind his back, through the legs of Ramos and into the back of the net.
Ramos made matters worse just two minutes later by committing a horrific sliding challenge on Columbus' Waylon Francis, earning himself a straight red card and reducing Orlando to 10 men.
Columbus took advantage, doubling its lead in the 55th minute when Justin Meram took a layoff from Kei Kamara and roofed a shot past Orlando goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts.
Kamara turned scorer five minutes later by latching onto a bouncing ball and sending a looping shot past the on-rushing Ricketts.
"I think that the idea was to have a really high tempo to the match. We really wanted to push the tempo and I think we did that," said Crew SC head coach Gregg Berhalter. "In the first half I was really pleased with that. Like I said, after the red card - less so in that first half - but the first thirty minutes we really were pushing the tempo, really attacking aggressively and putting them under pressure. That was good to see."
Saturday's match also marks Kamara's 200th Major League Soccer game. Kamara made his professional debut with the club back in 2006 and has seen his career take him from Columbus to San Jose, Houston. Kansas City, Norwich and Middlesborough in the English Championship and back to Columbus prior to this season.
"That's amazing, to be honest," said Kamara. "Coming back here and being able to play for this club that made me a professional. If I am going to have my 200th game and it���s going to be at home, it's going to be a special moment."
Philadelphia, meanwhile, will look to rebound from a poor second-half performance in a 2-1 defeat to the New England Revolution last time out.
The Union asked most of the questions in the first half and took a 1-0 lead into the break courtesy of a brilliant free kick from Cristian Maidana in the 42nd minute.
But New England dominated the second half, with substitute Teal Bunbury providing a huge offensive spark.
He helped the Revs level the match in the 64th minute by beating a defender on the right wing and driving a ball into the six-yard box for Davies, who applied the finishing touch.
Diego Fagundez was the architect of the winning goal when he delivered a pinpoint cross to the front of goal for Bunbury, who got a step on his defender and beat Union goalkeeper John McCarthy with a first-time effort.
"Obviously a very disappointing result, we let a huge opportunity slip through our fingers tonight," Union head coach Jim Curtin said. "I don't think we played particularly well in the first half but Chaco scored a very good goal on the free kick. They're a good team and given time on the ball they started to pass well and broke us down for two goals."