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Orlando City vs. New York City FC: Final Score 1-1 as Lions Improbably Advance on Penalties

Things looked dire when Pedro Gallese got a second yellow during spot kicks but Rodrigo Schlegel’s save (really!) and Benji Michel’s goal see Orlando through to Round 2.

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Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Only a madman would try to sort through what just happened in a first-round MLS playoff match between Orlando City and New York City FC at Exploria Stadium. So here goes…

The Lions advanced to the second round after an improbable shootout victory following a 1-1 draw against the Pigeons, which included:

  • Ruan getting sent off in the 87th minute.
  • Tesho Akindele missing a sitter in the 10th minute of stoppage time that would have seen Orlando City win, 2-1.
  • Maxi Moralez hitting the crossbar with the first shot of the penalty shootout.
  • Starting Orlando City goalkeeper Pedro Gallese getting sent off with a second yellow card after making a save in penalty kicks that appeared to win the game — video review showed he came off his line a little early.
  • Orlando City being allowed to sub on goalkeeper Brian Rowe, who was then sent back to the bench after a lengthy delay, then brought back on, then sent back off, because there were no subs allowed during spot kicks.
  • Center back Rodrigo Schlegel replacing Gallese in goal and allowing Valentin Castellanos to tie the shootout at 4-4 with one Orlando shooter remaining.
  • Nani, the fifth OCSC shooter, having his penalty saved by Sean Johnson to force sudden death penalties.
  • Schlegel saving a shot by Gudmundur Thórarinsson, knocking it off the left post.
  • Benji Michel making the ensuing penalty to send Orlando through to the second round of the MLS playoffs.

The game was utter madness. A movie about it would be seen as too unbelievable. And yet, somehow Orlando City survived all of the insanity to advance past its fellow 2015 expansion side into the second round of the MLS playoffs.

Nani made an early penalty and New York City FC nearly immediately canceled it out with a Maxime Chanot set piece goal off a corner, and then neither team could find the net for 122 minutes of normal, stoppage, and extra time.

“I think we need more time to calm down and reflect [on] what happened tonight,” Head Coach Oscar Pareja said after the match. “The analysis of the game may wait for tomorrow when we can analyze the soccer side. What just happened at the end, I never saw it before. And this is the beauty of this game…but today the ball bounced our way. We are proud to win and beat one of the best teams in Major League Soccer with 10 men on the field,”

“I think we deserve it, after a difficult game with a lot of emotional moments during the game.” Nani said. “I think our team did great. We wanted to win from the first minute. We worked so hard during this week to prepare ourselves to be able to perform well. And our fans were amazing.”

Pareja’s lineup included Pedro Gallese in goal behind a back line of Kyle Smith, Robin Jansson, Antonio Carlos, and Ruan. Uri Rosell returned to the starting XI after missing 13 games with an undisclosed injury. Joining him in the midfield were Junior Urso, Mauricio Pereyra, and Chris Mueller, with Nani and Daryl Dike leading the attacking line.

The Lions started brightly, with some early passing sequences into the attacking third. Those paid off when a penalty was awarded four minutes into the match. Mueller sent in a cross for Nani at the back post and the captain’s header deflected off the outstretched arm of Anton Tinnerholm for an obvious handball. Nani stepped up coolly and had an agonizingly slow run-up before sending Johnson the wrong way and scoring inside the right post to make it 1-0 just under five minutes in.

New York City answered immediately. Off the ensuing restart, the Pigeons worked the ball into the box and forced Gallese to make a big stop but the ball skipped out for a corner. Chanot scored on the set piece, freeing himself with a two-handed push on Urso while Jesus Medina’s delivery was in flight, and sending his header in to make it 1-1 in the eighth minute.

Urso’s complaints went unheeded and it was simply the way the game was called all day. Allen Chapman was consistently inconsistent, and you never knew what was or wasn’t going to be called.

Dike tried to restore the lead in the 15th minute with some nice moves to free himself in the box before sending a spinning shot toward the near post. Johnson was there to scoop it up and the rookie may have been better served trying the far side, where there was more traffic, but also no goalkeeper.

New York City FC then started to get most of the good chances for the rest of the half. A deflected cross fell perfectly for an onrushing Medina, who fired but had his shot well saved by Gallese in the 24th minute. Two minutes later, El Pulpo denied Keaton Parks after a collision with no whistle set up a NYCFC transition opportunity.

The game got sloppy on both sides for about the next 15 minutes. NYCFC struggled to connect down the wings, while Orlando City wasted numerous good forays into the attacking third by dribbling straight into the visitors’ traps while ignoring runners to either side.

The Pigeons nearly took the lead in the 43rd minute but Gallese made two incredible saves to keep the game at 1-1. Castellanos fired a rocket from the top of the area that Gallese stopped but the Peruvian couldn’t control the rebound. Parks came in from the right to tuck it home and Gallese stuck up one of his eight arms at the last second to deny the shot.

Orlando’s last good look came at the beginning of first-half stoppage time when Dike set up Mueller at the top of the area. Unfortunately, Mueller got way under his shot and skied it into the roof over the north end of the stadium.

New York City dominated in chance creation in the first half, outshooting the Lions 11-6 (5-2 on target), and winning more corners (6-2). Orlando held more possession (53%-47%) and passed better (83%-75%) or the game could have gotten away from the Lions quickly.

The Lions tried to come out of the locker room quickly, with Rosell firing over the bar two minutes after the restart and Dike getting a shot blocked at the top of the area in the 50th minute. Four minutes later, Ruan toe poked the ball through the box, perhaps expecting Urso to continue his run, but the Bear had checked up and it was an easy collection for Johnson.

Orlando started to make sloppy passes that resulted in turnovers and it nearly was costly in the 64th minute when Gallese bailed out his teammates with a save on a rocket by Medina.

Nani nearly scored in the 71st minute with a deflected shot that was dipping under the bar when Johnson pushed it up and over at the last second.

Ruan was sent off as full time approached. Already on a yellow card for running over Anton Tinnerholm 10 minutes earlier, Ruan was taken down by Gary Mackay-Steven on the sideline. Mackay-Steven then pushed both of his hands into the Brazilian’s abdomen and used Ruan to push himself up off the ground. Ruan took exception to the dirty play by kicking out at Mackay-Steven. Chapman showed a yellow to the NYCFC winger and a red to Ruan. The kick was an obvious and automatic straight red, so the earlier yellow was irrelevant.

Due to numerous stoppages for injuries and slow restarts after fouls, there were 10 minutes of stoppage time added to the end. Ismael Tajouri-Shradi fired wide in the seventh minute of stoppage time but it was Orlando with the best look of injury time. Nani was sent down the left and sent in a deflected cross to Akindele at the back post. The entire net was available with Johnson stuck at his post but the Canadian hit his shot over the bar with just a few seconds remaining in stoppage time and the game went to extra time.

New York City led in shots (20-13), shots on goal (6-3), corners (9-3) and possession (50.9%-49.1%), while Orlando was slightly more accurate in passing (80%-78%).

Tajouri-Shradi had a couple of chances early in extra time, having a shot deflect into the outside netting and then firing wide of the far post from the right side in the opening minutes of the first extra period. Castellanos blasted a volley over the bar in the 99th minute.

Orlando got the last decent chance of the first half of extra time when Akindele got the ball wide on the left side and tried to pick out Urso between two defenders, but the midfielder couldn’t get a clean touch on the ball in traffic.

In the second half of extra time the Lions generated a good chance when second-half sub Kamal Miller dribbled down the left, passed to Nani, then continued his run. The captain gave him the ball back and the defender brought it down with his back to goal. Miller turned and fired a shot just wide of the far post in the 107th minute.

That was the last good look for either side in the second 15 minutes of extra time. The teams were largely spent and there were several stoppages for cramping on both sides.

After the extra 30 minutes with the extra man, New York City dominated the stat sheet, leading in shots (26-16), shots on goal (7-3), corners (11-3), passing accuracy (82%-80%), and possession (55.7%-44.3%). But the game was still tied.

All that was left at that point was spot kicks. Moralez banged the first one off the crossbar to hand Orlando City the advantage. From there, four straight Lions scored — Akindele, Andres Perea, Carlos, and Urso. Meanwhile, Medina, former Lion Tony Rocha, and Ismael Tajouri-Shradi scored for NYCFC. When Gallese stopped Castellanos with a diving save, the team celebrated, but the play was reviewed for El Pulpo coming off his line early.

A lengthy delay ensued, in which Gallese was booked for a second time in the game, and backup goalkeeper Rowe came on, was sent off, came back on, and then was sent back to the sideline a second time. Schlegel came on.

Pareja said that in addition to Schlegel — who had played goalkeeper at the academy level — that Perea volunteered to go in goal. Gallese suggested to the coach that Schlegel get the nod and he did.

Castellanos buried his second chance to put the pressure on Orlando City.

Nani tried to go to the same side that he had earlier with a slow run-up, but this time Johnson got his hand to it and things looked dire for the Lions with a center back in goal and new life for New York City.

“I knew that was the important penalty,” Nani said. “But you know, it’s always harder to take the second penalty on the game. You need to take a side and you need to think and play with the goalkeeper’s mind, because you already took one penalty, so it looks more easy for the goalkeeper. I tried to delay the most I can to try to see if he [made] a move and beat him on one side. He did great. I went for the same side and the top of the goal but he did a great save.”

Nicolas Acevedo scored on the next penalty to put the pressure on Orlando City but Jansson buried the team’s next kick, which brought up Thórarinsson. Schlegel got his hand on the Icelandic defender’s shot to send it off the left post and the Lions celebrated again, but the match wasn’t yet over.

The officials cleared the field and Michel stepped up to take the next kick. He made no mistake with his chance and his goal pushed Orlando into the second round. The third celebration was the one that counted.

“I mean that’s that’s football,” Schlegel said through an interpreter after the match. “One minute you think that you’ve won and the next you don’t. What matters is the end result.”

“Well deserved,” Pareja said of the penalty kick shootout win. “The boys showed today the heart of this franchise. They showed all that intensity and sacrifice after we lost Ruan. What happened today, that will keep in my memory forever.”

The Lions have been incredible in shootouts — or incredibly lucky, depending on your point of view. Orlando City is now 5-0 in penalty shootouts in the MLS era and 2-0 against New York City FC. The Lions won via shootout in U.S. Open Cup action in 2015 at Charleston, in 2018 at D.C. United, and last season at home against NYCFC. Orlando knocked LAFC out of the MLS is Back Tournament on penalties July 31.

The upshot of all the insanity is that Orlando City is through to the second round and now must wait for an opponent.


The Lions will next play in the Eastern Conference semifinals, which start Nov. 29, against an opponent to be determined.

Orlando City

Orlando City vs. Columbus Crew: Five Takeaways

What did we learn from Orlando City’s frustrating home loss to the Columbus Crew?

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Orlando City hosted the Columbus Crew in an Eastern Conference showdown Saturday as the Lions looked to extend a three-match unbeaten streak. Unfortunately, questionable calls and a continued lack of quality in front of the goal doomed Orlando City to yet another home loss. What follows are my immediate takeaways from an deeply disappointing and frustrating defeat in Saturday’s 2-0 loss.

A Controversial Penalty

In the 41st minute, Cesar Araujo slightly tugged on Aidan Morris’ shirt from behind, but Morris fell forward in the box. Referee Jair Marrufo did not call a foul. This is important. Orlando City eventually cleared and took the ball back all the way up at midfield. The Lions worked the ball into the box, where Steven Moreira knocked down Luis Muriel from behind for an obvious foul. Marrufo called the penalty, but the video assistant referee got in his ear, and he went to look at the monitor. This was all over a minute since the not called “foul” on the other end. After looking at it, he reversed his call on the field and awarded the penalty to Columbus for the soft Araujo foul, which Diego Rossi buried to give Columbus the lead. This included the willingness to overlook a foul on Rossi in the phase of attack prior to Araujo’s infraction.

We have said many times on The Mane Land PawedCast that when given the opportunity, PRO referees will go to look at the video review when it goes against Orlando City, but not when it is a call that benefits Orlando City. This is just another example of that paradigm.

The Problem with the 3-5-2 Formation

With Robin Jansson sidelined due to injury, Oscar Pareja has employed a 3-5-2 formation with David Brekalo, Wilder Cartagena, and Rodrigo Schlegel on the back line. It has been mostly effective, and Cartagena in particular has done better than one could hope for in this new role.

Though Orlando City has had success with this formation, it does present some challenges. In this match, it moved Facundo Torres into the left winger position, and Dagur Dan Thorhallsson to the left wingback position. Thorhallsson has not been as effective going forward into the attack as he is when playing fullback, and Torres doesn’t look as free flowing as he usually is. It also means that Orlando City is unable to have the double pivot of Araujo and Cartagena in the defensive midfield. That pairing has been extremely effective for the Lions over the last few seasons.

Finishing Quality Still Lacking

Is someone messing with magnets? Is Professor Quirrel in the stands using his wand to redirect the ball? I’m just wondering, because Orlando City can’t seem to put the ball in the net for any amount of money at home. Orlando City generated 12 shots with five on target against Columbus and scored exactly zero goals. Several players, including Luis Muriel, Torres, Jack Lynn, and Nico Lodeiro all shot just wide of the target. Orlando City doesn’t have any trouble getting the ball into dangerous areas and creating chances, but the Lions have had trouble finishing those chances, and it’s getting to be ridiculous. Someone contact Professor Dumbledore.

Missing Players are Missed

It’s never ideal when starters are missing. Jansson returned to the 18 on Saturday but did not see any playing time against Columbus. Not having the captain on the pitch is not great, but when you combine that with not having Jansson’s quality on the back line, it makes things even tougher.

Meanwhile, Duncan McGuire’s scoring prowess is deeply missed. McGuire is Orlando City’s leading scorer with five goals. Orlando City doesn’t have another striker like him. Muriel generally plays lower than McGuire, often generating his own chances, but isn’t the target striker that McGuire can be. Jack Lynn is a target striker, but simply does not have the same level of quality as McGuire. Ramiro Enrique returned from injury in this match, but his size does not allow him to do what McGuire can do, and his rust was evident when presented a couple of golden opportunities in front of goal. Basically, the Lions really miss McGuire.

Designated Players Must Step Up

There are exceptions, but typically MLS Designated Players are attackers and are supposed to be contributing goals. Two of Orlando City’s DPs have scored. Muriel has two goals, and Torres has one. Martin Ojeda has yet to score. That means McGuire has more goals than all three DPs combined. Let’s be generous and look at goal contributions. Both Muriel and Torres have an assist on the season, and Ojeda has three assists. McGuire also has an assist. That means McGuire has six goal contributions, and all three DPs have combined for eight goal contributions. That isn’t good enough. Ojeda has mostly played a substitute role for Orlando City. That isn’t something a DP should be doing. Obviously, none of the three contributed to a goal in this match either. Something needs to change.


Those are the things I observed in the 2-0 loss to the Crew, let us know in the comments below what stood out to you. As always, vamos Orlando!

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Orlando City vs. Columbus Crew: Final Score 2-0 as Lions Get Blanked at Home Again

Orlando’s three-game unbeaten run is over, but the club’s awful poor home results continue.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC

Diego Rossi scored twice as the Columbus Crew handed Orlando City a 2-0 loss at Inter&Co Stadium. The Lions (4-6-4, 16 points) continue to struggle at home, falling to an abysmal1-4-3 on their home patch, but this one was a controversial one, as so many meetings with the Crew (6-2-6, 24 points) are.

Referee Jair Marrufo awarded an Orlando penalty late in the first half, then went to the monitor and reviewed a play at the other end. Instead of the Lions having a spot kick, Marrufo handed the Crew a highly questionable penalty late in the first half, turning the game in the visitors’ favor. What made matters worse is that there was a seemingly obvious foul on Columbus prior to the overturned no-call on Orlando, but the penalty went the Crew’s way.

Ultimately, so did the match. The Lions saw a modest three-game unbeaten run come to an end and Orlando City hasn’t scored at home since the 37th minute against Toronto back on April 27, a span of 323 minutes.

“I thought we had the chances to define (the game) and we couldn’t score,” Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja said after the match. “But the effort was there. The first half we were very organized and conceded to them the space, and tried to use it, but we were not precise enough.”

Pareja stuck with the 3-5-2 formation, starting Pedro Gallese in goal behind a back line of Rodrigo Schlegel, Wilder Cartagena, and David Brekalo, although Robin Jansson returned to the matchday lineup on the bench. Facundo Torres and Dagur Dan Thorhallsson played wingback outside a midfield of Ivan Angulo, Cesar Araujo, and Nico Lodeiro, with Jack Lynn and Luis Muriel up top.

Orlando looked to keep its defensive shape against the Crew from the jump, looking for chances to win the ball and counter. It was a tactic that worked well for much of the first half but Orlando couldn’t find a breakthrough and the Crew defenders did a good job of blocking shots when the Lions did get a sight of goal.

The Lions fashioned a chance two minutes in when Angulo cut inside from the left and fed Muriel, who fired a shot that deflected wide for the game’s first corner. The Lions couldn’t pay off the short corner, however.

Araujo sent a terrific pass to send Angulo down the right in the 11th minute but he lost control of it trying to cut back in front of goal from the right and it was touched out for a corner. The Lions again went short, and this time Muriel took it, working a give-and-go, but the flag came up for offside.

Muriel won another corner in the 15th minute with a shot that was deflected wide. Lodeiro’s cross on the set piece found a wide-open Cartagena lurking at the back post but the Peruvian drove his header into the ground too far in front of goal and it bounced over.

Shortly after the water break, Lodeiro smashed a shot that sliced just wide of the left post in the 39th minute.

The Crew took the lead just when everyone thought Orlando City would be doing the same at the other end. Lodeiro sent Muriel in behind the defense and he was bundled over from behind by Steven Moreira. Marrufo pointed to the spot and then went to the monitor to check for a possible foul at the other end. There were actually two, but Marrufo only was interested in one of them. In the buildup to the foul he gave, Rossi committed a foul as the Lions cleared the ball to the left side of their box. The Crew recycled it and Araujo grabbed Adian Morris’ shirt from behind. The Crew midfielder fell forward, when a tug back would ordinarily cause a person to fall backward, but Marrufo gave that foul, wiping out an Orlando penalty and overturning his own initial call.

Rossi scored the penalty to a chorus of boos from an angry Inter&Co Stadium crowd and the Crew led 1-0 in first-half stoppage time. The goal came on the Crew’s first shot attempt of the match.

To summarize, the original person who should have committed the foul that negated any Orlando foul in the box seconds later was the one who scored the eventual penalty.

When asked about why the Rossi foul wasn’t given in the buildup to the Araujo no-call that he overturned, Marrufo passed the buck to video assistant referee (VAR) Jorge Gonzalez.

“The VAR reviewed and cleared the attacking phase of play before sending the referee to the referee review area,” Marrufo wrote in response to the question submitted by the pool reporter. Marrufo then said that the attacking phase of play w”was checked prior to the penalty kick being confirmed.”

The problem with that answer is that the penalty wasn’t confirmed, it was an overturned Marrufo no-call, which is supposed to have a higher standard of “clear and obvious” to overturn. There’s no doubt Araujo grabbed the shirt momentarily, but it was minimal and a soft penalty, but it was still an unnecessary grab and it was a costly one.

“We couldn’t understand it,” Pareja said of the decision.

“It totally changed the plan that we had going into the game, ” Muriel said. “We wanted to be more patient, choose our moments to press, so that way we could remain organized. And after that penalty, after that goal against, it totally changed the plan, because we felt that urgency. We had to press more and press immediately. And against a team like Columbus that’s so precise in taking advantage in that disorder on our part, it’s tough. I don’t think it changed the mentality as much as it did the plan.”

Neither side fashioned much after that aside from an Orlando corner kick that went nowhere, and Columbus took its lead into the break.

The Crew held the halftime advantage in possession (62.5%-37.5%) and passing accuracy (92.3%-90.5%). The Lions attempted more shots (4-1) and won more corners (4-1), while each team put one shot on target.

Chasing the game, Orlando got stretched at times in the second half and it eventually turned out to be costly. The first warning sign came in the 48th minute, when Torres was left alone to defend against Max Arfsten, who beat him badly to get inside of him and shot. Schlegel arrived just in time to make a sliding block.

Angulo got to the end line in the 55th minute down the left channel, but his cross was straight at the goalkeeper, wasting a promising counterattack. A minute later, Muriel did well to play a ball to himself behind Rudy Camacho, who pulled back the Colombian and earned a booking.

Pareja made a triple substitution in the 59th minute, sending on Ramiro Enrique, Felipe, and Rafael Santos on for Lynn, Araujo (who was on a yellow card for the penalty foul), and Thorhallsson. However, before the trio of new players could settle in, the Crew doubled their lead.

The counterattack came in the 61st minute, with Yaw Yeboah streaking down the left side. As Angulo caught up defensively, Rossi broke in between the two defenders and chipped the cross in to make it 2-0.

“We felt that urgency to go and look for the game, and there is a trade,” Pareja said. “You do that and then you have spaces (in behind the defense).”

Orlando had a flurry of half chances after the second goal. Lodeiro forced Patrick Schulte into a save in the 65th minute at the near post, while a back-post placement may have yielded a better result. Seconds later, off the ensuing corner, the ball popped out to Cartagena at the top of the area. The Peruvian didn’t get much on his shot, trying to pass the ball inside the left post. The lack of pace on the ball made for an easy save for Schulte.

Christian Ramirez should have made it 3-0 in the 68th minute, beating Gallese on the counter but sending his shot trickling just wide of the left post.

Enrique got into some good spots late but did not look sharp after his long injury layoff and was unable to beat Schulte. Torres found him with an excellent pass in the 73rd minute but a defender stuck a foot around the Argentine and knocked the ball off of his own goalkeeper. The ball died in front of the line and Schulte smothered it.

Three minutes later, sub Martin Ojeda sent Enrique a pass on the right but he took too long to get his shot away and the defense blocked it.

Muriel won a corner in the 77th minute when his shot was blocked behind by Darlington Nagbe. The cross in on the set piece found Torres on the left. The Uruguayan headed the ball into the middle of the six-yard box but no Lions could get around the Crew defense to the loose ball and the visitors cleared.

Another Crew counter could have added to the misery but Marino Hinestroza sent a left-footed effort wide of Gallese’s goal in the 88th minute. Gallese then saved a shot right at him from Yeboah in the 91st minute on a Crew set piece.

Ojeda took a shot in the 92nd minute that missed the net wide, but Schulte appeared to have it covered anyway.

Enrique had a chance to at least spoil the shutout late. Schlegel headed a corner cross into the path of the Argentine who headed the ball hard but straight at the goalkeeper from point-blank range. Just a foot or two on either side and it’s an easy goal, but the final ball was once again lacking.

That was the last action of the match as the Lions again failed to find the net.

Columbus finished with the advantage in possession (56.6%-43.4%) and passing accuracy (91.9%-88%). Orlando finished with more shots (12-8), shots on target (5-3), and corners (8-2).

Ultimately, the referee’s decision to give the Crew a penalty and a lack of precision in the final third (again) doomed City to yet another home loss.

“It’s difficult to comment on a game like that, because at one point we thought we were about to be up with a penalty, and then in the next moment we were given a penalty against us,” Muriel said. “So, I think that confused us, and we were wanting to press a team, which is difficult to do against a team that has the quality of Columbus. At the end of the day, I don’t think we were as clear. We weren’t having the luck that we needed in those moments to score goals.”

“I thought the boys played well except in the second half, when we looked unorganized and started losing our shape,” Pareja said. “Listen, the frustration is there, but this is our journey. We keep going. In the last three games we have done fantastic things. They have done things that they didn’t do before and we have to keep growing.”


The Lions have a short turnaround before a road match against the Fire in Chicago on Wednesday, with a trip to play the Red Bulls looming a week from tonight.

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Orlando City vs. Columbus Crew: Preview, How to Watch, TV Info, Live Stream, Lineups, and More

The Lions host the defending champs in their first meeting with the Crew since last year’s playoff battle.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Welcome to your match thread for a Saturday night matchup between Orlando City (4-5-4, 16 points) and the Columbus Crew (5-2-6, 21 points) at Inter&Co Stadium (7:30 p.m., MLS Season Pass on Apple TV+). This is the first of two scheduled meetings of the season between the two Eastern Conference rivals, with the Lions set to make the return trip to Central Ohio on Sept. 21.

Here’s what you need to know about the match.

History

The Lions are 9-6-4 in the all-time, regular-season series and 7-2-2 at home. Orlando City also has a home playoff loss in extra time last November and a home U.S. Open Cup win back in 2015 against the Crew for a 10-7-4 overall mark in all competitions (8-3-2 at home).

The last time these teams met was in the 2023 Eastern Conference semifinals on Nov. 25 of last season. The teams played scoreless through the 90 minutes plus injury time, with Orlando City defender Rodrigo Schlegel getting sent off late with a second yellow card. The Crew were able to bundle home a goal in extra time and add an insurance marker for a 2-0 win en route to an eventual MLS Cup championship. Christian Ramirez and Cucho Hernandez scored for the Crew.

The most recent regular-season clash between the Lions and Crew in Orlando was a memorable game at Exploria Stadium on Sept. 16, 2023, with Orlando coming from behind to snatch a stunning 4-3 victory at the death. Julian Gressel gave Columbus an early lead that held up through the first half. Martin Ojeda equalized just after the restart, but Diego Rossi and Hernandez staked the Crew to a two-goal lead. Facundo Torres pulled one back and Ramiro Enrique bagged his first MLS brace, with a goal just a few minutes from the end of normal time and another late in stoppage.

The teams met in Columbus on May 13 of last season, playing to a 2-2 draw. Orlando City fell behind 2-0 by halftime on goals by Darlington Nagbe and Jacen Russell-Rowe, but Ercan Kara pulled one back just a few minutes after the restart and Duncan McGuire leveled the game in stoppage time.

The two sides met in Orlando on Decision Day 2022, with Orlando City erasing a 1-0 deficit on a Derrick Etienne Jr. goal to win 2-1 and clinch a playoff spot. Junior Urso leveled the game in the second half and Torres struck from the penalty spot late. The meeting in Columbus that year took place on April 16, 2022, with the Lions winning 2-0 on goals by Schlegel and Kara.

The 2021 season series concluded on Oct. 27 in Columbus with the Crew winning 3-2. Columbus had lost five straight to Orlando prior to Lucas Zelarayan’s one-goal, two-assist performance. Miguel Berry and Etienne also scored for the Crew. Daryl Dike pulled a goal back from the spot and Robin Jansson struck late but it wasn’t enough.

The teams met at Exploria Stadium on Sept. 4, 2021, with the Lions winning 3-2. Orlando was cruising and built a 2-0 lead on goals by Dike and Silvester van der Water, but a bizarre own goal by Antonio Carlos threw the Crew a lifeline, and a Berry equalizer turned the game around. 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 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 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 a five-game winning 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 prior to the Orlando winning streak 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 from them on a call that Petrescu’s own organization said was an error.

Columbus got the better of Orlando in 2017, going 2-0-1. The Lions were 0-1-1 against Columbus in 2016 and 1-1-1 in the series in 2015.

Overview

Orlando City enters on a three-game unbeaten streak (2-0-1), with the Lions keeping a clean sheet in each of their last two matches. OCSC last played a week ago in San Jose, defeating the Earthquakes 1-0 on a late goal by Jack Lynn. That win came a few days after a scoreless home draw against Inter Miami. The Lions, however, are in the midst of a goal drought. Orlando sits 10th in the Eastern Conference table — just one point out of the play-in-game places — and has only scored more than one goal in a game once since April 20, a span of five games.

The Lions have struggled at home early this season — much like in 2023. Orlando is just 1-3-3 at Inter&Co Stadium in MLS play in 2024. That’s a poor home record since the building got its new name. I’m not suggesting a causality, but I can’t prove it’s a coincidence either.

The Crew enter this matchup just above the playoff line in seventh place. Columbus has won its last two matches by identical 3-1 scores over Chicago and Montreal on the road and beat Monterrey away from home by that same scoreline in the team’s most recent Concacaf Champions Cup. The Black & Gold have gone unbeaten in four straight road MLS games (2-0-2) and are 2-1-3 away from Lower.com Field in 2024 in regular-season play. Columbus has managed to stay in the thick of the playoff hunt despite making a deep run in Concacaf Champions Cup play, losing only twice and managing six draws. That shows a gritty ability to scrap for points during the season’s early fixture congestion.

Only FC Cincinnati has allowed fewer goals (11) in the Eastern Conference than the 13 the Crew have conceded. Combined with the Lions’ difficulties scoring over the last month, it may mean that scoring will be difficult for City. Making matters worse for Orlando is an injury picked up by striker Duncan McGuire in the San Jose match. Ramiro Enrique’s return to training may help, but if Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja is going to roll the 3-5-2 out again, it’ll likely be Luis Muriel and Lynn starting this one.

Crew Head Coach Wilfried Nancy’s system features a three-man back line with solid defensive positioning and an opportunistic attack that can win the ball in dangerous areas and exploit transition opportunities. Rossi, and Ramirez are obvious threats but midfielder Aidan Morris and Russell-Rowe are also threats to score.

“Like any other team, we’re responsible with our preparations, understanding the challenges this team brings us,” Pareja said ahead of the match. “Columbus has a very bold system and way to play, so we’ve been analyzing how we can affect them and how we can control them. As I say, just trying to be very confident in our ways and our players and trying to get these results at home in front of our fans. That’s what we want.”

In addition to McGuire (shoulder), Orlando City will be without fullback Michael Halliday (knee), and reserve defender Tahir Reid-Brown (thigh), while Enrique (ankle) and Robin Jansson (ankle) are listed as questionable. Columbus will be without Hernandez (back) per Nancy, but there is no one listed on the Crew’s availability report in the club’s game notes as of this writing.

Match Content


Official Lineups:

Orlando City (3-5-2)

Goalkeeper: Pedro Gallese.

Defenders: Rodrigo Schlegel, Wilder Cartagena, David Brekalo.

Wingbacks/Midfielders: Facundo Torres, Ivan Angulo, Cesar Araujo, Nico Lodeiro, Dagur Dan Thorhallsson.

Forwards: Luis Muriel, Jack Lynn.

Bench: Mason Stajduhar, Rafael Santos, Kyle Smith, Alex Freeman, Robin Jansson, Jeorgio Kocevski, Felipe, Martin Ojeda, Ramiro Enrique.

Columbus Crew (3-4-3)

Goalkeeper: Patrick Schulte.

Defenders: Yevhen Cheberko, Rudy Camacho, Steven Moreira.

Wingbacks / Central Midfielders: Yaw Yeboah, Aidan Morris, Darlington Nagbe, Max Arfsten

Forwards: Alexandru Matan, Jacen Russell-Rowe, Diego Rossi.

Bench: Nicholas Hagen, Malte Amundsen, Taha Habroune, Derrick Jones, Marino Hinestroza, Mohamed Farsi, Will Sands, Sean Zawadski, Christian Ramirez.

Referees

REF: Jair Marrufo.
AR1: Jose Da Silva.
AR2: Tyler Wyrostek.
4TH: Marcos DeOliveira.
VAR: Jorge Gonzalez.
AVAR: Robert Schaap.


How to Watch

Match Time: 7:30 p.m.

Venue: Inter&Co Stadium — Orlando.

TV/Streaming: MLS Season Pass on Apple TV+

Radio: FM 104.1 Real Radio (English), Mega 97.1 FM (Spanish).

Twitter: For rapid reaction and live updates, follow along at @TheManeLand, as well as Orlando City’s official Twitter feed (@OrlandoCitySC).


Enjoy the match. Go City!

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