Welcome to your match thread for a Saturday night match-up between Orlando City (7-11-1, 22 points) and the Columbus Crew (8-7-6, 30 points). This is the first of two scheduled meetings between the Eastern Conference rivals in 2018 with the Crew making the return trip to Orlando on Oct. 21.
The Lions snapped their nine-game league losing streak last Saturday and, after a bump in the road in the U.S. Open Cup on Wednesday, City will look to make it two consecutive MLS wins Saturday night at Mapfre Stadium. That’s a place the Lions have never won and have taken any points from only once.
The Lions are 1-4-3 in the all-time series (0-2-1 on the road), putting the Crew right up there with Toronto FC as one of the teams in the Eastern Conference that have given Orlando City the most problems. Orlando does have a U.S. Open Cup victory over Columbus back in 2015, however.
The teams last met on Oct. 15, 2017 in Kaká’s final game in purple, with Columbus winning 1-0 on Ola Kamara’s second-half goal. The teams drew 1-1 in Orlando back on Aug. 19. Lalas Abubakar scored to put Columbus ahead in the 35th minute, but Giles Barnes equalized in the 67th. In the first meeting of 2017, Justin Meram scored both goals for the Crew in a 2-0 Columbus win. Meram is now in purple, but since he didn’t go with the team to Philadelphia earlier in the week, is he really?
The Lions were 0-1-1 against Columbus in 2016. The last meeting in Camping World Stadium saw the Crew beat down the Lions, 4-1. Ethan Finlay and Kamara (with a brace) powered the Crew, who also got a Seb Hines own goal, to more than offset Cyle Larin’s goal. The teams drew 2-2 in Ohio on July 23. Tony Tchani and Kamara (penalty kick in the sixth minute of first-half stoppage) put the Crew up, 2-0, while Kevin Molino and Larin led Orlando back for interim coach Bobby Murphy.
The first ever meeting in 2015 was marred by a Rafael Ramos red card as the Crew won in Columbus, 3-0. The teams drew 2-2 in May of that year and Orlando got its only league win against the Crew in a 5-2 demolition of Columbus that August.
Orlando City has lost six straight MLS games on the road but is coming off its first league win since May 6. The Lions will be playing their third game in eight days and are just 2-7-0 on the road in 2018. The Crew have won just once in their last eight matches but at least they had a full week off between games. Columbus has lost its last two games without scoring a goal but did win its last home game over Real Salt Lake, 2-1, on June 30. Columbus is 6-2-3 at home this season.
Gregg Berhalter’s team will do what it always does — pass well, defend well, probably out-possess Orlando, and look to make quick, decisive attacks off turnovers. Federico Higuain is still one of the league’s most influential players and he’ll look to set up Gyasi Zardes, Niko Hansen, and Pedro Santos. Wil Trapp will Hoover up anything in the midfield as the shield for a strong Crew back line.
It’s very difficult to know who will be available for Orlando City tonight. Meram didn’t travel to Philadelphia and as of this writing I’m not sure if he flew to Columbus. He’s either getting some unexpected time off or perhaps being shopped around unless he picked up a knock that the club isn’t reporting. There was some talk that Yoshimar Yotún picked up an illness between Saturday’s win and the time the team left for Philadelphia. As for the MLS injury report, it was last updated on Tuesday and the only Lions on it are Lamine Sane (quad ) and Jonathan Spector (hamstring) — both listed as out. Neither Scott Sutter nor Cristian Higuita are on the list but they were, and neither was in the 18 on Wednesday. The Lions could sure use Yoshi, Sutter, and Cristian to provide some fresh legs.
The Crew’s report shows only Mohammed Abu (thigh) and Adam Jahn (knee), who are both questionable.
Mandatory Match #Content
Here's your mandatory match content to prepare you for the game:
- Our Intelligence Report provides more info about Columbus with the help from Patrick Murphy of SB Nation’s Crew SC blog, Massive Report.
- This week's PawedCast includes our key match-ups and score predictions, plus we chatted with Pat Murphy about the game, Justin Meram’s struggles, #SaveTheCrew, and more.
- Our Ben Miller wrote about how going all-in on the U.S. Open Cup in the midweek will make a win in Columbus even more difficult than usual.
Orlando City (4-2-3-1)
I’ve got no idea what we’ll see, but let’s give it an optimistic projection and go back to mostly the same lineup from last Saturday’s win.
Goalkeeper: Earl Edwards Jr.
Defenders: Tony Rocha, Chris Schuler, Shane O’Neill, RJ Allen.
Defensive Midfielders: Uri Rosell, Cristian Higuita.
Attacking Midfielders: Yoshimar Yotun, Sacha Kljestan, Chris Mueller.
Forward: Stefano Pinho.
Bench: Joe Bendik, Mohamed El-Munir, Scott Sutter, Amro Tarek, Will Johnson, Josué Colmán, Dom Dwyer.
Columbus Crew (4-2-3-1)
Goalkeeper: Zack Steffen.
Defenders: Milton Valenzuela, Josh Williams, Jonathan Mensah, Harrison Afful.
Defensive Midfielders: Artur, Wil Trapp.
Attacking Midfielders: Pedro Santos, Luis Argudo, Niko Hansen.
Forward: Gyasi Zardes.
Bench: Jon Kempin, Lalas Abubakar, Hector Jimenez, Ricardo Clark, Mike Grella, Patrick Mullins, Edward Opoku.
Ref: Silviu Petrescu.
AR1: Gianni Facchini.
AR2: Apolinar Mariscal.
4th: Dave Gantar.
VAR: Jon Freemon.
How to Watch
Match Time: 7:30 p.m. (ET).
Venue: Mapfre Stadium — Columbus, OH.
TV: WRDQ TV 27 (local only).
Radio: FM 96.9 The Game (English), La Nueva 990 (Spanish).
Streaming: ESPN+, YouTube TV.
Twitter: For rapid reaction and live updates, follow along at @TheManeLand, as well as Orlando City's official Twitter feed (@OrlandoCitySC).
Match Thread Rules
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Enjoy the match! Go City!