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How Orlando City Can Influence Columbus Crew’s Playoff Plans

The Lions are out of the postseason but they have the power to define their rivals’ fate on Sunday.

MLS: Columbus Crew SC at Orlando City SC Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Orlando City SC will not compete in the 2017 MLS Cup playoffs but the team has an opportunity to make its presence felt in the postseason tomorrow, when the Lions host Columbus Crew SC at Orlando City Stadium.

Crew SC has already qualified for the playoffs and currently sits fifth in the Eastern Conference with 50 points. The Ohio team is trying to improve its seeding for the postseason and this afternoon’s game can mean a huge step in that direction.

Columbus is just two points behind the Chicago Fire and could jump to fourth place with only one more match to be played in the regular season if it defeats Orlando tomorrow and the Fire loses or ties with the Philadelphia Union. A setback at the hands of the Lions, though, combined with a Chicago win, would make things a lot harder for Crew SC.

Finishing fourth or fifth can make a huge difference to Columbus in the postseason. If the team climbs one spot, it would probably host the Fire in Ohio, where the Crew have won 12 of 17 matches this season in the club’s best-ever home record in MLS.

Remaining at the fifth position, on the other hand, would make Crew SC go on the road to face the Fire, Atlanta United, or New York City FC — teams that combine for only seven setbacks in 48 home matches in 2017.

Columbus Crew was the first team to beat Orlando City in the 2017 season with a 2-0 win back in April. The team has been a tough rival for the Lions, who won only one of the seven past matches against the Ohioans. The teams tied 1-1 the last time they met in August, at Orlando City Stadium.

“This is a game I think there could be a little extra motivation because we haven’t beaten them this season,” Head Coach Jason Kreis acknowledged after Monday’s training session.

It would not be a bad idea making things harder for them, would it?