Well, here we are once again. Coming off a win last week against Portland, Orlando City now faces off against the "Black and Gold" a.k.a. the Columbus Crew. Orlando is expected to have all their usual suspects available for the game, so the lineup for the Lions was made accordingly.
Orlando's starting 11 for the game:
G: Donovan Ricketts; D- Rafael Ramos, Aurelien Collin, Seb Hines, Brek Shea; M- Amobi Okugo, Cristian Higuita, Darwin Céren, Kaká, Kevin Molino; F- Cyle Larin
The game started off a bit back and forth, and early on things got bad for Columbus. Just after four minutes, Crew defender Hernán Grana intercepted a pass intended for Brek Shea and took a turn with the ball. Shea then came in with a hard challenge and caused the Argentinian defender to flip up in the air and come down hard. No foul was called and Orlando continued with the attack.
After some great passing just outside of the box, Orlando got its first chance at scoring. At the top of the 18-yard box, the Lions combined passing from Higuita to Céren to Kaká to Molino, who, after a nifty turn with the ball, fired a shot on the right side of the box, scraping the post and flying into the net, giving the Lions an early 1-0 lead.
Columbus came right back and had a chance of their own. After drawing Orlando's defense, Ethan Finlay was able to muscle past Higuita and chip a ball into the box. It was a bit too far and Tony Tchani was only able to head it back into play, where Ramos was waiting to clear the ball.
After a failed counter attack by Orlando, Grana was finally subbed off for Columbus, making way for Chad Barson.
The Lions continued to keep pressure on the Crew. After a string of eight straight passes, Okugo found a wide open Kaká on the left wing. The Brazilian struck the ball first time, but Steve Clark made a fantastic save to deny the goal. The ensuing corner found a wide open Molino on the far post, but he put his header wide.
There were chances for both teams throughout the half, but none better for Columbus than right before halftime when, off a Federico Higuain corner, Kei Kamara headed the ball off the crossbar.
The half ended with Orlando holding a commanding 57% possession and a 92% passing accuracy. The Lions also had four shots on goal, with three of them on target.
The second half began with Columbus coming out attacking. They were able to maintain possession for the first 10 minutes, but were never able to get a shot off. Eventually, both teams made a move to the bench as Adrian Heath went to Bryan Róchez to replace Larin and Gregg Berhalter brought in Mohammed Saeid for Wil Trapp.
Columbus continued to look dangerous as the game progressed in the second half. Off of a counter attack in the 63rd minute, Higuain was able to find a wide open Justin Meram on the left wing. Meram hit the ball off the post and Orlando was able to keep their clean sheet. Another opportunity for the Crew came just 10 minutes later, after Saeid chipped a beautiful ball into the box, finding Higuain. The Argentinian took a strike and Ricketts was able to make a fine save and Hines was able to clear the ball.
After some more back and forth play, Orlando subbed in Sean St. Ledger for Ramos in the 85th minute, for some defensive insurance. Just three minutes later, off of another counter attack, Orlando combined another few good passes together and found Kaká on the wing. After taking a touch on his left foot, he put the ball to his right then back to his left and smashed the ball into the back of the net, making it 2-0 for Orlando.
With the game pretty much sealed, Orlando was able to hold off the pressure and finished the game, winning 2-0. The Lions won the possession battle, holding 54% of the ball and had 91% passing accuracy.
With the history of this series, it has been wrong every time.
OC vs NYCFC Prediction: 4-1 (Actual 1-1)
OC vs Montreal Impact Prediction: 0-0 (Actual 2-2)
We hope this latest prediction by our machine overlords comes to fruition.