Welcome to your match thread for a midweek match-up between Orlando City (12-8-11, 47 points) and the Columbus Crew (10-13-8, 38 points) at Lower.com Field (7:30 p.m., FOX 35 Plus). This is the second of two scheduled meetings between the two Eastern Conference rivals in 2021 and the only match-up in Ohio.
Here’s what you need to know about the match.
The Lions are 6-5-3 in the all-time league series but just 1-3-1 on the road. Orlando City also has a home U.S. Open Cup win back in 2015 against the Crew for a 7-5-3 mark in all competitions.
Orlando City is on a five-game winning streak in the series. The last meeting between the teams took place at Exploria Stadium on Sept. 4, when the Lions won, 3-2. Orlando was cruising and built a 2-0 lead on goals by Daryl Dike and Silvester van der Water, but a bizarre own goal by Antonio Carlos threw the Crew a lifeline and a Miguel Berry equalizer turned the game around. Junior Urso provided the winner in the 69th minute.
City won the only meeting of 2020 when the 10-man Lions got a late Benji Michel goal to defeat the Crew 2-1 last season on Nov. 4. Chris Mueller gave Orlando the lead in that game but Harrison Afful was able to equalize just moments after referee Ramy Touchan had sent off Nani on a ludicrous call that was overturned by the MLS independent panel a few days later. Thanks to Michel’s goal, the officiating error didn’t end up costing the Lions, who clinched their first-ever MLS playoff spot with the win.
The Lions swept the season series in 2019, defeating the Crew 1-0 on a Michel goal on July 13, 2019, and two weeks previously getting their first road win in the series, 2-0. Nani assisted on goals by Mueller and Tesho Akindele in that one.
Orlando won 2-1 on Oct. 21, 2018 to start its successful five-game streak against the Crew on a pair of penalty kick goals. Yoshimar Yotún and Sacha Kljestan provided the spot kicks to offset Federico Higuain’s opening goal.
The last Crew win in the series was assisted by a horror call by Silviu Petrescu in the 88th minute on July 21, 2018, giving Columbus an equalizer from the penalty spot. Wil Trapp then scored the kind of goal in stoppage time that he’ll probably never score again to lift the Crew to a 3-2 victory in a game the Lions had stolen away on a call that Petrescu’s own organization said was an error.
In Kaká’s final game in purple, the teams met at the end of the 2017 season with Columbus winning 1-0 on Ola Kamara’s second-half goal. The teams drew 1-1 in Orlando on Aug. 19, 2017. 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.
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 first league win against the Crew in a 5-2 demolition of Columbus that August.
Orlando City is on a five-match unbeaten streak (2-0-3) but hasn’t won in its last two outings (0-0-2) after throwing away second-half leads at home against both Montreal and New England in the past week. The Lions last played Sunday and put in an excellent 80 minutes before conceding twice late in a 2-2 draw that propelled Revs forward Adam Buksa to MLS Player of the Week, despite only having touched the ball eight times in more than 45 minutes of action. The Lions are 4-6-5 in road games in 2021, with one of those “road” wins coming against Toronto at Exploria Stadium.
The Crew are 8-4-3 at home in 2021 but are coming off a 2-1 home loss to the New York Red Bulls on Saturday. Yes, that’s right, the Crew have an extra day of rest over the team that traveled. This is MLS and no one should be surprised that this kind of scheduling decision continues to happen. Columbus had won its previous four home games prior to the loss to New York, dating back to a late 2-1 collapse against Seattle on Aug. 21 that was oddly reminiscent of how Orlando blew its lead this past Sunday.
Last year’s MLS Cup winners have struggled at times in 2021 due in large part to sustaining even more injuries than Orlando City has endured. Still, the teams’ performances haven’t been that far apart. Columbus has conceded two fewer goals than Orlando but has scored seven fewer. That turns out to be a difference of nine points in the standings.
One player who is healthy is midfielder Darlington Nagbe, who gobbles up the ball all over the midfield and is difficult to dispossess. He and attacking midfielder Lucas Zelarayan are the Crew’s most critical players and Orlando will need to win battles in the midfield to have success. The Lions will also need to deal with Pedro Santos, who typically comes to life in the fall and has four direct goal contributions in the last three games.
“We’re all in the same mode of trying to add points and trying to fight for results and I think Columbus has its own too,” Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja said after Sunday night’s draw with the Revs. “We have to go one game at a time and address this past game [against New England], put our shoes back on and try to refresh ourselves. Try to understand what just happened and how we can get better and prepare for the Columbus game while trying to recover our energy too, because we have to prepare ourselves. All of those things have to be done and that’s the difficulty of our job, but we’ll do it. We’re professionals. We’re ready to prepare for the game against Columbus and go fight for those points.”
Orlando City will be without Uri Rosell (concussion protocol) and Alexander Alvarado (international duty). In addition, several players are questionable with various injuries of the lower body variety, including Raul Aguilera, Adam Grinwis, Rio Hope-Gund, and João Moutinho.
Meanwhile, Columbus has an extensive list of players out: Artur (hip), Perry Kitchen (knee), Kevin Molino (knee), Aidan Morris (knee), and Gyasi Zardes (knee) are all unavailable due to injuries, while defender Josh Williams (low back tightness) and Luis Diaz (MLS health and safety protocols) are questionable. Even the participation of Crew Head Coach Caleb Porter (COVID-19) is in doubt. Porter has missed the last two games.
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 Orri Benatar of SBNation’s Crew SC blog, Massive Report.
- This week's PawedCast includes our key match-ups and score predictions.
- Our Topher Adams says the Lions must start to play a more complete game than we’ve seen in recent weeks to get into the playoffs and do well while there.
Orlando City (4-2-3-1)
Goalkeeper: Pedro Gallese.
Defenders: Kyle Smith, Robin Jansson, Antonio Carlos, Ruan.
Defensive Midfielders: Andres Perea, Sebas Mendez.
Attacking Midfielders: Nani, Mauricio Pereyra, Chris Mueller.
Forward: Daryl Dike.
Bench: Mason Stajduhar, Emmanuel Mas, Rodrigo Schlegel, Joey DeZart, Junior Urso, Benji Michel, Silvester van der Water, Tesho Akindele, Alexandre Pato.
Columbus Crew (4-2-3-1)
Goalkeeper: Eloy Room.
Defenders: Milton Valenzuela, Vito Wormgoor, Jonathan Mensah, Steven Moreira.
Defensive Midfielders: Marlon Hairston, Darlington Nagbe.
Midfielders: Pedro Santos, Lucas Zelarayan, Derrick Etienne.
Forward: Miguel Berry.
Bench: Evan Bush, Saad Abdul-Salaam, Harrison Afful, Josh Williams, Aboubacar Keita, Alexandru Matan, Liam Fraser, Erik Hurtado, Bradley Wright-Phillips.
Ref: Joseph Dickerson.
AR1: Andrew Bigelow.
AR2: Diego Blas.
4th: Matthew Thompson.
VAR: Geoff Gamble.
AVAR: Eric Weisbrod.
How to Watch
Match Time: 7:30 p.m. (ET).
Venue: Lower.com Stadium — Columbus, OH.
TV: FOX 35 Plus (local only).
Streaming: The match can be streamed on ESPN+ (out of market only) or on the LionNation app.
Radio: FM 96.9 The Game (English), Acción 97.9 FM, 810 AM (Spanish).
Enjoy the match. Go City!
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