Orlando City’s home match which was supposed to take place yesterday was postponed after two staff members of the Columbus Crew tested positive for the coronavirus. An Orlando player tested positive earlier that day as well, although that result was not part of the decision to postpone, and Major League Soccer confirmed that the Sunday fixture was to be postponed to a later date.
It must be acknowledged that the right and safe decision was made in delaying the match, however it is impossible for supporters not to think about how it will impact the Lions. The game being pushed to a later date could provide some positives and negatives for Oscar Pareja’s men and also the Crew as well. So on that note, let’s get right into what the good and bad news is for each side.
To get the negatives out of the way, Orlando City could see the put-off as an affliction of sorts, which of course, would make it an advantage for the opposition. The Crew are without key players Lucas Zelarayan and Darlington Nagbe at the moment.
If the Lions faced a Crew side without the midfield general, Nagbe, the team would have a better shot at dominating the middle of the park and playing the preferred possession-based game far more easily. As for Zelarayan, the Argentine has shown impressive skill, scoring three goals and adding one assist in eight matches. The absence of the potent 28-year-old would have been advantageous for the Lions. Given the fact that the aforementioned pair are both close to being fit currently, it is likely they will both play against the Lions whenever the deferred match takes place.
However, to provide an immediate caveat to the positives for the Crew and negatives for Orlando City, there is a long list of Lions who will likely be able to play in the match now. Pedro Gallese and Sebas Mendez will probably be back and ready to go from their international duties and that will help the Lions tremendously. Furthermore, Uri Rosell, Joao Moutinho, and Mauricio Pereyra are all approaching return from injury. Tesho Akindele may also be back in time to provide depth for the attack.
The six players would have missed out on the game against Columbus had it been held yesterday. So, while the currently third-placed side in the Eastern Conference will see its side strengthen with the returns of Nagbe and Zelarayan, Pareja will see his options expand greatly with the comebacks of the previously listed five.
Pereyra has been an especially crucial cog in the most creative trio in the side this season alongside Nani and Chris Mueller. While the other returning players will be warmly welcomed by supporters as well, the Uruguayan coming back is a great positive on the attacking front given the fact that the Crew have conceded the fewest goals in all of MLS so far this season.
In addition, the Lions may have access to new striker Matheus Aias by the time the game is played. Oscar Pareja said during today’s press conference that the team expects him to be medically cleared any day. And there’s an additional attacking winger on the way as well.
All in all, if one chooses to watch the match from a neutral perspective, it is fair to say that the overall quality on display will improve. Of course, Pareja would have preferred to take on Columbus without its commander in the middle of the park. However, the fact that the side will likely be close to full strength when the match occurs is arguably a good thing that outweighs the bad.
If there are no further postponements, the Lions will face New York City FC at home this Wednesday. It will be interesting to see what happens this hump day and, beyond that, what the situation will be when the Lions host the Crew in the future.