Welcome to your open thread for Orlando City's fourth (!) match-up against the Columbus Crew in 2015. The Lions are 1-1-1 in the first three meetings, go the winner here gets bragging rights for the season unless the teams meet again in the postseason.
City (6-9-6, 24 points) lost the first meeting, 3-0, in Columbus on April 18, playing the majority of the match with 10 men after Rafael Ramos was sent off for a rash challenge. The teams drew 2-2 at the Citrus Bowl on May 30, with the Crew playing a man down this time for a handball on the line by Michael Parkhurst. Despite the numerical disadvantage, Columbus (8-7-7, 31 points) held a late lead until Pedro Ribeiro smashed in the equalizer from the top of the box in the 89th minute.
Orlando took the third meeting, 2-0, in U.S. Open Cup play at the Citrus Bowl on June 30, getting goals from Kaká (21') and Carlos Rivas (25') four minutes apart and knocking Columbus out of the competition.
Just a few weeks ago, the Lions were second in the Eastern Conference and the Crew were outside the playoff zone, looking in. Now, Columbus sits second in points in the Eastern Conference and it's City looking up at the pack. Things changed significantly in July, with the Lions failing to win a game and drawing only once. City was 0-3-1 in MLS action and 0-4-1 in all competitive matches in the month, tasting victory only in a 3-1 friendly match against West Bromwich Albion on July 15.
Orlando City may be without right back Rafael Ramos who picked up a knock against Chicago Fire on July 22. If he can't go, watch for Tyler Turner to fill in after playing in the MLS Homegrown Game on Wednesday in Colorado. Cristian Higuita is eligible to return from his one-game yellow card suspension, but the latest Lion on the hot seat is Carlos Rivas, who sits on four yellow cards. The two players City signed this week are not yet available, as they go through the tedious work visa process.
Sean St. Ledger was waived for a 'severe breach of club policy' yesterday, and his starting spot likely goes to Seb Hines. Conor Donovan was recalled from Pittsburgh of the USL to provide depth at the position.
Here's your mandatory content for today's game:
- Austin Siegel's match preview and prediction
- This week's PawedCast includes an extensive preview with Pat Murphy from Massive Report and predictions from me, Brent Petkus and Kyle Foley.
- Scott Crumbly's piece on why Adrian Heath says this is the most important match of the season.
- Wade Williams' solid analysis on what we've learned from two prior MLS meetings with Columbus.
Orlando City (4-3-3)
Goalkeeper: Tally Hall
Defenders: Corey Ashe, Seb Hines, Aurelien Collin, Tyler Turner
Defensive Midfielders: Cristian Higuita, Darwin Ceren, Servando Carrasco
Forwards: Luke Boden, Cyle Larin, Kaká
Bench: Earl Edwards Jr., Conor Donovan, Eric Avila, Pedro Ribeiro, Estrela, Danny Mwanga, Bryan Rochez
Columbus Crew (4-2-3-1, often operating as a 4-4-1-1)
Goalkeeper: Steve Clark
Defenders: Waylon Francis, Tyson Wahl, Michael Parkhurst, Chad Barson
Defensive Midfielders: Wil Trapp, Tony Tchani
Attacking Midfielders: Justin Meram, Federico Higuain, Ethan Finlay
Forwards: Kei Kamara
Bench: Brad Stuver, Chris Klute, Emanuel Pogatetz, Cedrick Mabwati, Hector Jimenez, Mohammed Saeid, Aaron Schoenfeld
REF: Ricardo Salazar
AR1: Chris Strickland
AR2: Kevin Klinger
4TH: Marcos De Oliveira
How to Watch:
Match time: 7:30 p.m. (ET)
Venue: Citrus Bowl - Orlando, FL
TV: FOX 35 (locally) and Sun Sports (regionally)
Radio: 104.1 FM Real Radio (English), La Grande 1030 (Spanish)
Streaming: FOX Sports Go app
Twitter: For rapid reaction and live updates, follow along at @TheManeLand, as well as Orlando City's official Twitter feed (@OrlandoCitySC).
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