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Philadelphia Union, Columbus Crew play to scoreless draw

Mar 17, 2018; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Union midfielder Alejandro Bedoya (11) collides with Columbus Crew midfielder Artur (7) after his shot attempt during the first half at Talen Energy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

CHESTER, Pa. — The Philadelphia Union (1-0-1, 4 points) and Columbus Crew (2-0-1, 7 points) played to the first scoreless draw in 21 regular-season meetings Saturday afternoon at Talen Energy Stadium.

It was the second tie ever between the two Eastern Conference foes, and the match featured just six combined shots on goal in front of an announced crowd of 15,323. Neither side created much inside the final third, as both defenses played stout, organized contests.

The Union center back pairing of Jack Elliott and Auston Trusty dealt with the threat of Gyasi Zardes well, as they held the U.S. Men’s National Team forward to a pair of shots on goal.

“Overall, not our sharpest day,” Union coach Jim Curtin said. “Obviously, we look at it as two points dropped at Talen Energy Stadium, so that part is difficult. Some positives, you’d say that the back four did a very good job.” 

Elliott and Trusty helped Philly earn its second clean sheet of the season. The first came against a nine-man New England in Week 1.

“We played New England with 11 men for 20 minutes, so it was a little bit different,” Elliott said. “Even with them, Agudelo is a good player and Zardes is a good player who has good movement. The wingers are looking to find him earlier than New England did. You have to be aware of him all the time.”

Philadelphia struggled to find an offensive rhythm with Czech international Borek Dockal making his debut in the No. 10 role.

Although chemistry will evolve in the coming weeks, the Union shifted too far to the right for most of the 90 minutes, leaving that part of the field congested with Fabian Herbers, Alejandro Bedoya and Dockal in the same region.

The adjustment to Dockal’s style of play will come in time, as he receives more first-team minutes.

“I think Alejandro played on the right before and likes to drift on that side and is now learning a little bit about Borek’s playing style, but it’s difficult because we’ve only had those couple weeks together,” Philadelphia right back Keegan Rosenberry said. “We’ll try and learn from each other and see if we can continue to get better as a team. At times it causes teams problems when you have so many people on one side and trying to offset that, but again it’s a work in progress, it’s still pretty early and we’ve got another two weeks to build on it.”

The Union have a week off before visiting the Colorado Rapids on March 31, while the Crew take on D.C. next Saturday.

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