Twice this season, Orlando City has faced off opposite Columbus Crew SC in MLS action, first taking a 3-0 defeat on the back of Rafael Ramos' early ejection on April 18, before getting a possession-dominant 2-2 draw on May 30.
What did Orlando City learn from these previous matches, and how can the Lions capitalize on this intelligence?
Columbus is Lethal Attacking on Either Wing
In the first match, Ethan Finlay, Federico Higuain, Justin Meram and Kei Kamara exhibited a killer instinct in attacking up both wings following Rafa's red card, admittedly favoring Finlay and the right side following the dismissal.
Building up the right 37% of the time, the quartet combined for 15 shots (nine on target) en route to all three goals and three assists. Higuain was especially impressive, orchestrating the wing runs with six key passes on 100 touches.
In May, the attack was altered ever so slightly, with fullbacks Hector Jimenez and Waylon Francis pressing forward to influence the attack markedly more than in the opening salvo. Building up the wings a combined 68%, the fullbacks completed three of six crosses and were credited with assists on each goal.
Any Chance is a Good Chance
The Crew spent the better part of 180 minutes peppering shots at net in the two meetings. In April, Meram and Kamara worked over Donovan Ricketts to the tune of 88% shot accuracy on nine shots, scoring two of Columbus' three goals.
In May, while Orlando City did a much better job controlling possession and thus limiting Columbus' opportunities, the men in yellow still shot at net at a 67% clip, managing to pull even with an Orlando City team that attempted 24 shots but managed to get just 37% on target. In fact, the Crew led that game late, despite being down a man.
Kei Kamara is Insanely Talented
While names like Kaká, Lampard, Gerrard and Giovinco dominate headlines, Kei Kamara has been in Ohio setting the league on fire. With 15 goals, he's a clean three clear at the top of the league, serving up four assists when he finds a free moment from scorching nets.
We've seen what he can do in a pinch, flashing elite athleticism and skill with Ricketts closing down on him in the April meeting to score the best looking chip we've seen this side of Jack McInerney.
He's proven to be one of the stronger aerial forwards in MLS as well, sneaking directly in front of the net in May to power one low and beyond the grasp of Tally Hall.
Orlando has struggled to contain the star power and efficiency of the Columbus attack in two MLS matches thus far. Can they do enough for the boys in purple to finally claim three points over these budding rivals from the north?