Columbus Shows Orlando City What Lions Can Become



To say Orlando City had a bad run Saturday could be a bit of an understatement. Columbus, which plays a very similar style to the Lions, was able to show Orlando what a capable Major League Soccer team is able to do. It did help, of course, that Orlando was down a man for the majority of the game, so the sample size of a full 11-on-11 game is only about 34 minutes long.

However, in those 34 minutes, the game seemed to be in the complete control of the home team. Just like Orlando usually does, Columbus runs a 4-2-3-1 formation and plays a very high-pressuring style. Much like Orlando, they have an experienced MLS player in Michael Parkhurst to man their back line, a strong defensive presence in the midfield in Tony Tchani and a Designated Player in midfield who can control the game for his team in Federico Higuain.

However, the X factor for Columbus that has helped them through their first few games this year has been MLS veteran Kei Kamara. After beginning his career with Columbus in 2006, he bounced around to three different teams before breaking out with Sporting Kansas City in 2013. Kamara has spent the last two years over in England with Norwich City and Middlesbrough, and is now bringing all that experience back to Columbus this year.

This veteran target striker is one thing that Orlando is missing so far this year. Kamara already has four goals in six games and seems to work really well in the system that Gregg Berhalter employs for the Crew. He looked dangerous all night on Saturday, and will be a big factor for Columbus going forward this year.

Now, in terms of Orlando's situation compared to the Crew's: Columbus' roster is filled with veterans of either MLS or other various leagues. No starter is younger than 23 or older than 31, so there's a good balance of experience within the roster. With Orlando's current roster, there's a lot of young potential but not a lot of experience. Currently, there are three 19-year-olds within the Lions' starting 11, and their inexperience was on display in the form of Rafael Ramos' and Cristian Higuita's giveaways inside the 18-yard box, which both led to goals.

Orlando’s young talent will come along this year, but having those experienced veterans on a team, no matter how good or bad they are, can come in handy. The Lions’ strike force will hopefully become more dependable when Martin Paterson comes back from injury, but at this point, trying to force players like Cyle Larin, Carlos Rivas and Bryan Róchez to play against unfamiliar opponents and be the player that is depended upon every game to score isn’t the best idea for the long run.

With the way Paterson played in the preseason, fans can be hopeful that he can be a dependable and reliable scorer just like Kamara is for Columbus.

In the meantime, Orlando City Head Coach Adrian Heath and his boys will take their 3-0 loss and turn it into a valuable lesson going forward in this young MLS season.


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