After a disappointing 4-1 road loss to Inter Miami on Wednesday, Orlando City will face the Columbus Crew in a Decision Day match on Sunday at Exploria Stadium at 2:30 p.m. with massive playoff implications for both sides. The Crew are currently one point and one position ahead of Orlando in the Eastern Conference standings, sitting in seventh with 46 points and a record of 10-7-16. Let’s take a closer look into the numbers behind the Lions’ upcoming opponent in this crucial match, the Columbus Crew.
The Crew are very good at creating scoring chances on offense. With just one game left in the regular season, they are tied for seventh in total scoring attempts (434), stand eighth in shot-creating actions (677), and are tied for 10th in assists (50). Despite consistently pressuring defenses with a bombardment of scoring opportunities, Columbus only ranks tied for 18th in goals (45). This is mostly due to the fact that the Crew are wildly inaccurate, and just because they are getting chances consistently, it does not mean that these chances are optimal. Columbus is all the way down in 20th in on-target scoring attempts (138) and tied for 25th in accurate shooting percentage (31.8%). It is also worth noting that, although the Crew rank eighth in shot-creating actions, they are in 17th in goal-creating actions (71), meaning they have not been very efficient at turning these shot attempts into goals scored.
The Columbus defense has largely overachieved this season, much of which can be attributed to the noteworthy goalkeeping play of Eloy Room. The Crew have allowed the fourth-fewest goals against (39) on the 12th-fewest shots against (144) in MLS. Columbus only ranks inside the top 15 in two defensive categories this year, sitting second in duel percentage (52.8%) and 11th in successful pressure percentage (29.2%). Everywhere else on the defensive side the Crew have not been near the top half of the teams in MLS, sitting 17th in tackles (517), 18th in interceptions (307), tied for 18th in blocks (434), tied for 22nd in clearances (545), and tied for 24th in pressures (4,079).
Players to Watch
Midfielder Lucas Zelarayán has all of the tools for success on the offensive end. Zelarayán leads the team in goals (10), is tied for first in total scoring attempts (81), and is first in on-target scoring attempts (31). His offensive abilities though, extend far beyond the reach of scoring, as he has been great at feeding the ball to other attacking Crew players. Zelarayán is first among Columbus players in both crosses (60) and assists (11). Forward Cucho Hernández, who was signed by Columbus earlier this season from English Championship side Watford, has got off to a quick start for the Crew. Even though he has only played 15 games for Columbus this year, Hernández is still second in goals (9) and he is tied for first in total scoring attempts (81). Another consistent piece for the Columbus offense has been midfielder Derrick Etienne, who is third in goals (8) on the third-most total scoring attempts (48). Etienne has been much more accurate than Zelarayán and Hernández, ranking second in accurate shooting percentage (41.7%) among players with at least 20 total scoring attempts, while Zelarayán is third (38.3%) and Hernández is fourth (33.3%) in this category.
Midfielder Pedro Santos has been a very important piece of the Columbus defense. Santos leads the team in interceptions (40) and tackles (90), while he is also tied for the lead in blocks (61). The Columbus defense has also received a lot of help from defender Steven Moreira, who has provided well-rounded play this season. Moreira is second in blocks (61) and pressures (391), third in tackles (44), tied for fourth in clearances (52), and sixth in interceptions (26). Room has been one of the league’s best goalkeepers and a great asset for Columbus this season. He has conceded 39 goals and made 103 saves, and he has the league’s second-best save percentage (72.5%) among goalies with at least 25 starts.
That is what I found on the Columbus Crew. Let me know how you are feeling about the match and Decision Day in the comments and, as always, go Orlando!