However, the home side sit just eight points adrift of their high-flying opponents with a game in hand, leaving their upcoming fixture as an opportunity to catapult themselves back into the mix.
Having started the campaign with five wins from six games, there was every suggestion that Philadelphia could run away with this season's Eastern Conference.
However, just two victories have been posted in the following 11 matches, the most recent of their nine winless fixtures being a defeat to Chicago Fire earlier this week.
Such was their form at the beginning of the season that the Union still sit joint-top of the standings alongside CF Montreal and New York Red Bulls.
Nevertheless, head coach Jim Curtin is aware that his side will only remain in that position if they can rediscover some consistency over the coming weeks.
On a more positive note, the two triumphs mentioned have come in the last five games, while just two defeats have been recorded all season.
As far as Columbus Crew are concerned, they head into this contest sitting outside of the MLS playoff places and eight points adrift of the top three.
However, having put together a four-match undefeated streak, they are one of the form teams in the Eastern Conference and will fancy their chances of maximum points at the weekend.
Head coach Caleb Porter witnessed his team post an important 2-1 win at Toronto FC earlier this week, the visitors benefitting from netting twice in the opening half-hour.
The Union prevailed in the reverse fixture back on April 9, Eloy Room's second-minute own goal proving to be the difference at Subaru Park.
Barring any injury issues, Porter could stick with the Columbus XI from their fine win in Canada.
Their moments came before a wave of substitutions during the second half, and the likes of Lucas Zelarayan may keep his spot in attack.
However, that is not to say that Porter does not have options with Derrick Etienne an obvious alternative if the Crew head coach wants to freshen up his side.
Philadelphia will have to make do without midfielder Jose Martinez after he was dismissed for two yellow cards at Chicago Fire.
Columbus Crew possible starting lineup:
Room; Mensah, Williams, Degenek; Moreira, Nagbe, Morris, Zawadzki, Santos; Zelarayan, Russell-Rowe
Philadelphia Union possible starting lineup:
Blake; Harriel, Glesnes, Findlay, Real; Bedoya, Elliott, Flach; Gazdag; Uhre, Carranza
We say: Columbus Crew 1-2 Philadelphia Union
Given the recent form of Columbus, there is an argument that this game should be regarded as a straight 50-50. However, we cannot ignore that Philadelphia have lost just twice in the MLS this season, leaving us to predict a narrow win for the visitors.
For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.
body check tags ::
Previews by email