Orlando City hosted the Columbus Crew as the Lions stepped back into MLS action Saturday night. Following what was certainly one of the great moments in Orlando City history against NYCFC, the Lions had to rebound mentally, emotionally, and physically to take on a Crew team that had Gyasi Zardes and Wil Trapp back from the USMNT. It wasn’t a very exciting match, at least until the end. What did we learn from the Lions’ latest victory?
No Nani, No Problem
We found out before the match that Nani wouldn’t be available due to food poisoning. This was not great news as Orlando City plays better with Nani on the field. He creates chances, provides assists, and scores goals. Despite Nani not being available for selection, James O’Connor had a game plan, and it didn’t require Nani in the starting XI. That being said, let’s make sure someone with the club is paying better attention to what the man is eating.
A Stout Defense
On a night when the offense was practically nonexistent, the defense was stout. The Crew had 10 corners, 11 shots, and 57% of the possession. Though most of those shots were in the first half, and only one was on target. Orlando only had one corner, four shots, and 43% of the possession, giving you a sense of what the game was like offensively for the Lions. Fortunately, Orlando City did play solid defense — particularly the central defense pairing of Lamine Sané and Robin Jansson — and in the 88th minute, Brian Rowe came up with a match winning save.
A Tired Club
This match was the fourth in 11 days for Orlando City, and despite more squad rotation, this still looked like a team just hoping to manage a game rather than attack. Coming into the match the Crew had lost seven road matches in a row. Basically, it was anyone’s game, and the home team was content to play defense, and look for counter attack opportunities. It was a good strategy for a tired team, and ultimately O’Connor’s plan paid off.
Let’s get this out of the way first. The red card on Dom Dwyer was unfortunate, but I don’t have a problem with that call. I do have a problem with the rest of the refereeing. Orlando City was called for one red card, four yellow cards, two offside infractions, and 17 total fouls. The Crew had zero red cards, zero yellow cards, zero offsides, and only eight total fouls. Referee Dave Gantar has given out six yellow cards, and one red card to Orlando in the last two matches he’s presided over the Lions, and zero cards to the opponents (Seattle and Columbus). That seems a bit off to me.
Just days after Orlando City gave up a goal in the 90th minute, the Lions got their own late winner in the 84th minute. Like the Crew, the Lions only had one shot on target. Unlike the Crew, Benji Michel’s went into the back of the net. This type of win is exactly the type Orlando City needs during this busy stretch of matches. It’s also the type of home win that has been hard to come by for Orlando City this season. Congratulations to Benji for his first MLS goal.
Let me know what you saw in the comments below. Go Lions!