While the Philadelphia Union know where their offense will come from, the Columbus Crew will be short-handed in their attack heading into what shapes up as a key matchup.
League top scorer Jack McInerney looks to extend his goal-scoring streak to four games Wednesday night against a visiting Crew team that will be missing two vital players.
McInerney was the hero again in Saturday's 1-1 draw at Toronto FC. He scored his MLS-leading 10th goal in second-half stoppage time as the Union (5-5-4) salvaged a point.
"I feel good, confidence is high, obviously," McInerney told the Union's official website. "It's just good that I'm playing well."
The 20-year-old forward has been clutch, with half of his goals coming in the 75th minute or later. He's scored more than half of Philadelphia's goals (19) overall.
"He just continues to score and it's fantastic," coach John Hackworth said. "Any time a young player does that, especially after the notoriety that he has gotten, I hope he gets the attention of the national team and he certainly has."
Columbus (4-4-5), meanwhile, lost Eddie Gaven for the season when the midfielder tore his left ACL in Wednesday's 2-1 win over Dayton in the U.S. Open Cup. Gaven led the team with four assists in MLS play.
"Eddie Gaven is a very good player," coach Robert Warzycha told the Crew's official website. "He started every single game for us (and only) didn't start when he was injured in the beginning. That's a position up for grabs now because obviously Eddie is not going to be ready this year."
The Crew will also be without forward Jairo Arrieta, third on the team with 25 total shots. Arrieta is with the Costa Rica national team.
Forward Justin Meram will likely make his fourth straight start for Columbus as he searches for his first goal. Philadelphia expects other players to step up and fill the void left by Gaven.
"It's just an opportunity for that guy who's working so hard in training to be on the field," Hackworth said. "Meram has done a good job taking that chance in the last couple weeks for Columbus, I think (Wednesday) you may see somebody else, maybe it's a Ben Speas."
These teams drew 1-1 at Columbus on April 6. McInerney scored in the first half and the Crew answered after the break as Dominic Oduro had one of his team-high six goals.
The Eastern Conference standings are tight with New England and Philadelphia tied for the fifth and final playoff spot. The Revolution have 19 points from 13 games, the Union have 19 from 14 and the Crew 17 from 13.
"It's a huge game for us," Hackworth said. "When you talk about going on the road and a point is a good result, you talk about being at home with a conference rival that is right on your heels, you really need to get the three points.
"It's a six-point swing."
The Crew are 5-2-1 against the Union, with each team winning twice in Philadelphia.