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Orlando City

Orlando City vs. CF Montreal: Final Score 4-1 as Lions Suffer First Road Loss of 2022

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For the second time in three matches, Orlando City didn’t look like it belonged on an MLS pitch. The Lions were — well, the word awful comes to mind — in a deserved 4-1 road loss to CF Montreal at Stade Saputo. Orlando (5-4-2, 17 points) lost on the road for the first time in 2022 and never seemed likely to challenge Montreal (5-3-2, 17 points) once the hosts scored their first goal.

The Lions scored a set piece goal to cut a 2-0 deficit in half against the run of play in the second half but then handed two more goals to Montreal with the poor giveaways that plagued the team all game long. CF Montreal set a club record by extending its unbeaten run to seven games (5-0-2).

Joao Moutinho provided Orlando’s only goal on one of just two shot attempts. Joel Waterman, Djordje Mihailovic, Joaquin Torres, and Zachary Brault-Guillard all chipped in goals for Montreal.

“Certainly a difficult afternoon for us (against) a team that had a lot of initiative going forward,” Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja said after the match. “And we couldn’t, first get the ball back, and second create much. The mistakes that we did allowed them to score the goals. Very fair result for Montreal and we’re just going to push forward, just keep organizing things, and being back on results.”

Pareja’s lineup included Pedro Gallese in goal behind a back line of Moutinho, Thomas Williams — in for the suspended Robin Jansson — Rodrigo Schlegel, and Ruan. Sebas Mendez joined Cesar Araujo in central midfield to try to provide more coverage for the back line. The attacking midfield line included Facundo Torres, Mauricio Pereyra, and Benji Michel, with Alexandre Pato as the main strike threat.

Earlier in the day, OCB sent center back Brandon Hackenberg to the senior side on a short-term loan to provide coverage in central defense in Jansson’s absence. Hackenberg was on the bench along with newly acquired winger Jake Mulraney.

The opening minutes were a bit sloppy on both sides but Montreal got the first good chance to score six minutes in. Just after Schlegel blocked a Joaquin Torres shot from the top of the box, the ball cycled out wide to Montreal’s right. A cross back into the area was met by Romell Quioto, who was hardly bothered by Williams or Schlegel but he sent his free header over Gallese’s crossbar.

Two minutes later, Ruan made a sliding attempt to deny a pass and clear the ball but instead he simply set the ball up nicely for Lassi Lappalainen to run onto in the box. Lappalainen fired from the left side of Montreal’s attacking side but Gallese made a big save.

Orlando’s first foray into the attacking end didn’t take place until the 10th minute. Moutinho sent in a cross but former Lion Kamal Miller cleared it away. The Lions tried to recycle down the left wing but Michel’s left-footed cross was right at goalkeeper Sebastian Breza.

Facu Torres fired Orlando’s first shot attempt in the 14th minute after Miller failed to properly deal with a ball over the top that was intended for Pato. His shot was well off target and since Pato was behind the defense there was no option for the winger to play a through ball for the Brazilian.

A minute later, Mihailovic was nearly in for a clear shot on target but Mendez did well to break up the play at the top of the box. Just after that, Ruan coughed up the ball in his own defensive end. Pereyra committed a foul, which handed a free kick to the hosts. Mihailovic played the free kick short and received the ball back quickly and fired a shot on target. The attempt was right at Gallese, who made the easy save in the 18th minute.

Montreal’s wingbacks were pushing higher and higher and it nearly put Mihailovic in behind in the 20th minute but Schlegel did well to get back and break up the play. However, he conceded a corner, which led to Montreal’s opener. The cross into the box hit Michel and bounced toward goal. Waterman was standing there all alone and scored. The initial ruling was that the play was offside, and Waterman was well behind the defense, but after video review, the referee saw that the ball wasn’t passed by a Montreal player and instead was knocked behind to the center back by Michel, so the goal was awarded, giving the hosts a 1-0 lead.

The hosts should have doubled the lead in the 36th minute. The Lions lost the ball in the attack and Montreal quickly countered. Quioto put in a good ball across for Lappalainen in front. Ruan overran the play, giving the wingback a 1-v-1 opportunity against Gallese but he sent his shot just wide of the right post.

Gallese had to make a key save in the 40th minute after Mendez tried to play too fancy in his own end and turned it over. The ball cycled left to right and was slipped into Mihailovic down the right. He’d gotten in behind Araujo and Williams was slow to react, giving the winger an open look at goal but Gallese did well to get down and make the save.

Each side wasted a set piece late and the hosts took their deserved 1-0 lead into the break. Montreal dominated the opening half, leading in possession (56.4%43.6%), shots (8-1), shots on target (4-0), corners (2-1), and passing accuracy (89.7%-87.1%). The Lions were fortunate to be within one, offering nothing in the attack and getting bossed around by a Montreal central midfield that was missing Victor Wanyama and Ismael Kone.

Montreal picked up where it left off after the restart. Orlando turned Montreal over at midfield but poor awareness by Michel allowed the hosts to easily dispossess the winger and go the other way, where they won a corner. Miller had a free header but didn’t get all of it and Gallese collected.

Montreal doubled the lead anyway shortly afterwards. Mendez took the ball away in midfield but instead of getting forward in transition, Pato played the ball backward. Orlando worked it around but again turned it over and Montreal bombed forward in transition. Alistair Johnston got to the end line and cut the ball back across the front of goal for Mihailovic to tap in, building the lead to 2-0 in the 52nd minute.

Down two goals, Pareja made three substitutions, sending on Mulraney, Ercan Kara, and Junior Urso for Michel, Pato, and Mendez. Mulraney’s first touch nearly produced something as his dangerous cross into the box required Breza to be quick off his line to prevent a scoring chance in the 58th minute.

Moments later, Mathieu Choiniere sent a shot just inches wide of Gallese’s goal off a slight deflection. The ensuing corner kick again rattled around the area but this time Orlando cleared.

A poor header attempt by Schlegel allowed Montreal to bomb forward again and Quioto ended up on the left side. Williams did well to keep him from getting into better position and he fired a tough-angle shot that Gallese blocked in the 67th minute. Three minutes later, Gallese made another vital save.

The Lions pulled a goal back two minutes after that, when pressure from Mulraney won a corner. Pereyra’s service picked out Moutinho in the area and the left back nodded home to make it 2-1 in the 72nd minute.

With the lead cut in half and everything to play for, Orlando…didn’t. The Lions couldn’t maintain possession, string together multiple passes, deliver a single accurate ball when trying to break lines, and simply didn’t make Montreal work very hard on defense. Orlando failed to even get another shot attempt off in the final 18 minutes plus five minutes of injury time.

Instead, the Lions conceded two more goals and both were off turnovers.

In the 81st minute, Joaquin Torres restored the two-goal advantage on a play that Orlando should have dealt with. Williams did well against substitute Kei Kamara but stopped playing when he thought the ball went over the end line for a goal kick. But Kamara’s hustle allowed him to get a foot around the ball and keep it in play. Williams was standing still, looking at the assistant referee when Kamara ran back onto the field past him and kept the play going. Montreal cycled it around and it ended up on the right, where it was crossed by Brault-Guillard to Torres, who spun off of Williams and put the game away with a cannon shot past Gallese.

Three minutes later, substitute Andres Perea gave the ball away with a horrible first touch to hand Montreal another transition. Brault-Guillard had little angle to shoot at from the right side, but he made an inch-perfect back-post shot count, beating Gallese to make it 4-1.

Kamara came with inches of making it five goals for Montreal in stoppage time but that was as bad as it got. Montreal dominated the stat sheet at the end of the game, leading in possession (59%-41%), shots (20-2), shots on target (10-1), corners (7-2), and passing accuracy (88.3%-83.6%).

As comprehensive as the loss to the New York Red Bulls was two weeks ago, this one was worse. Pareja didn’t have an answer for the continued stagnation of the offense but accepted responsibilty for it after the match.

“I am responsible,” he said, “just helping out to create the sequences, helping out to be the team that we want to be. And offensively when we are not being that team that is threatening, that is creating and all those things, obviously somebody needs to give some explanation. What happened is that we need to execute. It’s easy to say, but today we looked controllable and we did not threaten much behind, but that is something I need to help them out with.”

“I have to say, they were decent,” Mulraney said of Montreal, getting on the field after just arriving with his new team a couple of days ago. “It’s hard to come on the road in this league. I’m excited about this group. I feel there’s a real togetherness. So, we’ll see.”

The Lions have just 12 shot attempts and five shots on target over the last three MLS matches, and there’s not much time between now and the U.S. Open Cup match this midweek to get the offense figured out.

“This is a short turnaround. We have to focus on the next game and see how can we grow up with a team,” Pareja said. “It’s the task to do.”


The Lions return home for a Tuesday night fourth-round match-up with the Philadelphia Union in U.S. Open Cup play before heading back to Canada to face Toronto FC next Saturday.

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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