Philadelphia coach Jim Curtin likes the idea of the 2020 MLS Cup champion and Supporters' Shield winner meeting in the 2021 season opener.
He would have liked it better if it were an intra-squad match because the Union had the best regular-season record (14-4-5) in Major League Soccer last year but was eliminated by New England in the first round of the playoffs.
Meanwhile, the Columbus Crew claimed its second MLS Cup with a 3-0 victory against the Seattle Sounders in December.
The Crew (12-6-5 last season) will host the Union on Sunday in the last season opener at Historic Crew Stadium, formerly Mapfre Stadium.
Columbus will debut its new $313.9 million stadium July 3 against New England. While it is daunting facing the champions in the league opener, Curtin can think of an even bigger challenge.
"I am very thankful we're not christening that new stadium," he said. "That's always a coach's nightmare."
COVID-19 restrictions will limit the crowd Sunday to 5,180.
"The supporters are the life blood of any club," Crew coach Caleb Porter said. "For our club, they are certainly the soul and beating heart and the big reason we even have a club."
Each team has played twice in the past 10 days in the CONCACAF Champions League to advance to the quarterfinals.
The Philadelphia Union won 5-0 on aggregate in the two-game set against Deportivo Saprissa, including 4-0 at home Wednesday as Jamiro Monteiro scored twice and had two assists.
"When Jamiro is at his max, he's not defendable," Curtin said. "You can't stop him."
Columbus defeated Real Esteli 5-0 on total goals.
"We're ready to file this away and face Philadelphia on Sunday," Porter said after a 1-0 home win Thursday.
The Crew has been dealing with injuries, including losing midfielder Aidan Morris to a season-ending knee injury, but still has Lucas Zelarayan, who in his first year in MLS had two goals and five assists in four playoff games.
--Field Level Media