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Intelligence Report: Orlando City vs. Columbus Crew

Get all the info you need on the Crew from our friends at Massive Report.

MLS: Columbus Crew SC at Orlando City SC Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

We’re once again on the cusp of another Orlando City match day, and another vastly important match it is. The Lions have just a three-point cushion between themselves in fourth, and New York City FC in fifth, and really need to win tomorrow’s match against the Columbus Crew.

To get caught up on how the Crew have been doing, I once again spoke to Orri Benatar, one of the contributors at SBNation’s Massive Report. As usual, Orri did a great job of bringing us up to speed on Columbus.

The MLS season is coming to a close and at the time of writing this, Columbus is in 11th place and five points out of the playoff places. The Crew only play one team below them the rest of the way, so there are some chances to make up the ground they need to. Do you think they’ll make the playoffs?

Orri Benatar: No, I do not. FiveThirtyEight puts the Crew’s playoff chances at 2% after the loss on Saturday at home to the Red Bulls. Going into this final stretch of games this season, coaches and players have said they need to win every home game to keep themselves alive. Saturday’s loss means the Crew need a miracle to get into the top seven, thus marking this season as a disappointment for the 2020 champions.

Right back Steven Moreira was signed towards the end of the August window. What has he brought to the team since his arrival?

OB: Moreira has been the best signing the team has made this season. The Crew is trying to get younger and a position that needs youth is right back with Harrison Afful deep into his 30s after a remarkable MLS career with Columbus. Moreira brings experience of Ligue 1 to MLS and has shown he has good defensive instincts along with skill going forward. He will be the starter in 2022.

Who should Orlando fans have their eye on during this one? Is there a player that you anticipate being the X factor in this match?

OB: I think Pedro Santos is the X factor. Fall is always the time Santos gets hot and the Crew knows this game is as must-win as it gets to have any shred of a chance to make the playoffs. Santos has four goal contributions in the last three games and no doubt will be going forward all game long to try and beat Orlando.

Are there any injuries, suspensions, or call-ups that will keep players unavailable for selection? What is your projected starting lineup and score prediction?

OB: The biggest new absences to the team are Gyasi Zardes and head coach Caleb Porter. Zardes picked up a knee injury last week, which leaves him out for likely the rest of the season. As of this writing, Porter is still recovering from COVID-19 and has missed the last two games.

Projected XI: Eloy Room; Steven Moreira, Jonathan Mensah, Vito Wormgoor, Milton Valenzuela; Liam Fraser, Darlington Nagbe, Pedro Santos, Lucas Zelarayan, Derrick Etienne; Miguel Berry.

Score Prediction: I think Columbus’ mentality will be stronger in this game to get themselves a win over Orlando. I’ll say 2-1 Crew.

Thank you to Orri for getting us caught up on Columbus.