Orlando City will take on the Columbus Crew in a Saturday night road match-up starting at 7:30 p.m. at Lower.com Field. The Lions will be looking to stay undefeated on the road this season, as the team has two draws and a win thus far when not playing in the friendly confines of Exploria Stadium. Let’s take a look at the club Orlando needs to beat or draw if they are to keep the undefeated road record alive, the Columbus Crew.
Columbus has one of the more proficient offenses in MLS. The Crew are tied for fourth in the league in goals scored, with 10 so far on the season. However, it is not the amount of goals that Columbus has scored that is the interesting part about the team’s offense — it is where the goals are coming from. The Crew have scored four goals from outside the box this year, far and away better than Orlando, which has not yet been able to put the ball in the net from this range.
Columbus has also been able to attack with a surge of total scoring attempts (101), a category where the Crew rank first in the league. It is worth noting that this barrage style of offense does not always work out for the Crew, who rank 23rd in accurate shooting percentage (29.7%). Columbus is able to get a lot of shots off throughout the game but these shots may not always warrant the opposing goalkeeper’s attention. The Crew only have eight assists so far on the season, which puts them behind the Lions (12). However, they do get the ball moving more to generate their attack.
The Crew are not as menacing on defense as the last opponent the Lions faced, the Chicago Fire. However, Columbus should not be taken lightly as the team is still an above average defensive squad. The Crew have been proficient in one-on-one situations this year, where they rank ninth in the league, winning 52.4% of their duels. This may be a crucial part of Saturday’s match-up as Orlando currently has a slightly better duel percentage (54.9%). Columbus defenders have the ability to disrupt the opponent’s passing game as well, with 57 total interceptions. The Crew do not allow opponents to get many accurate shots, only having to defend against 23 accurate shot attempts. When opponents have been able to get shots against Columbus, they have been able to do some damage, however. Columbus currently ranks 15th in save percentage, only stopping 69.6% of the opposition’s on-target chances.
Players to Watch
One of the reasons why Columbus has been so effective from outside the box this season is because of the play of its attacking midfielders. One such player is Lucas Zelarayán, who leads the club in goals with four — three of which have come from outside the box. Zelarayán also leads Columbus in crosses (19) and shots attempted (19), however, he has only been able to put 26.3% of his scoring attempts on target thus far. Another attacking midfielder who has played well is Derrick Etienne, who has scored two goals on 14 total shots. Etienne has been much more accurate with his chances compared to Zelarayán, as Etienne has an accurate shooting percentage of 64.3% on the year.
Midfielder-turned-left-back Pedro Santos and central midfielder Darlington Nagbe are two players who have been causing trouble for opposing offenses. Santos is someone who thrives at disrupting opponents on the attack, and he leads the Crew in both interceptions (10) and duels won (87). This makes Santos one of the Lions’ top priorities in limiting his influence on the game. Nagbe leads his club in duel percentage, winning 62.8% of his one-on-one battles. Orlando is going to need to provide help to players matched up with Nagbe so he cannot take advantage of any one-on-one opportunities presented to him. The starting goalkeeper for the Crew is Eloy Room, who has given up seven goals in six games played this year. Room has saved 16 shots this season and he has a save percentage of 69.6%.
Let me know what you think about the Lions’ next opponent in the comments below and as always, go Orlando!