Orlando City SC will be on the road for the first time this season, going up against the Columbus Crew on Saturday. What is sure to be an exciting match-up for both clubs will be enhanced even more with some great individual battles that will take place on the pitch. One of the most important battles will be the fervent match-up between Columbus striker Ola Kamara and Lions center back Jonathan Spector.
Spector is the new guy in Orlando, and he has already become the staple of the defense. Along with being a key player across the back line, Spector has proven to be quite a good leader and a very welcoming, calming presence.
Even with his calming demeanor, Spector has still been quite the stifling player for the Lions. The defense has only been scored on once in two games played at home, and while a lot of that has to do with Spector, another big portion has to be credited to goalkeeper Joe Bendik.
Spector’s best ability from a physical standpoint would have to be his contributions to defensive clearances. As of now, Spector has garnered 23 total clearances according to WhoScored.com. Given that he is doing such an amazing job on clearing the danger, it should be obvious that Spector can read the game at a very high level. His ability to read the game and, even more specifically, the movement of the forwards, is going to be crucial in facing Kamara.
Kamara has proven to be a major threat in the scoring department. In only 25 games played in 2016, Kamara managed to find the back of the net 16 times. This season, Kamara is on a similar course of destruction, as he has scored three times in four games for the Crew.
Kamara and the Crew are coming off an exciting game against the previously undefeated Portland Timbers. The Crew gave the Timbers their first loss of the season as they scored three goals — one of them on a beautiful chip of the keeper by Kamara.
Needless to say, the form of the Crew and Kamara are on an upswing. Kamara has become a problematic threat for opposing defenses and that will be no different for Spector and company.
While a lot of the battle will be of mental willingness, a part of the skirmish will take place in the air. Kamara has won six of 14 aerial duels through four games. His challenger, Spector, has already won seven of nine challenges and will look to have the advantage in this department.
In the Crew’s efforts against the Timbers, they proved that they can score from a variety of angles. One goal came from a set-piece corner, the next from a slotted ball down the middle to Kamara that he finished off brilliantly, and finally the third goal came from wide play to cap off the win.
The Orlando City defense will surely be well prepared for the Crew as it has had yet another week off after its last competition. That can come with good and bad, though. The good is that preparation should be top level, but the bad is that the Crew played and are in good form heading into the game week.
Spector has acclimated to MLS well in his first two matches against the likes of David Villa and C.J. Sarong, but Kamara will present a different set of problems as he is both an excellent finisher and a physically gifted individual.
Where Spector will win this battle is by shutting down crosses both high and low. It will be important for Spector to read the runs of Kamara as he tries to manage his way through the defense. If Spector gives 90 minutes of commitment to reading the game and sniffing out crosses left and right, then the Orlando defense should be able to maintain its steady pace of improvement.