Welcome to your match thread for a Saturday night matchup between Orlando City (4-4-2, 14 points) and the Columbus Crew (4-4-2, 14 points) at Lower.com Field (7:30 p.m., MLS Season Pass on Apple TV+). This is the first of the two scheduled meetings between the two Eastern Conference rivals in 2023, with the Crew making the return trip to Orlando on Saturday, Sept. 16.
Here’s what you need to know about the match.
The Lions are 8-6-3 in the all-time league series and 6-2-2 at home. Orlando City also has a home U.S. Open Cup win back in 2015 against the Crew for a 9-6-3 overall mark in all competitions (7-2-2 at home).
These teams last met 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 Facundo Torres struck from the penalty spot late. The last meeting in Columbus took place on April 16, 2022, with the Lions winning 2-0 on goals by Rodrigo Schlegel and Ercan 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, when the Lions won, 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 had 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.
Orlando City enters this match on a two-game losing streak in all competitions and without scoring a goal in either of them. The Lions lost 1-0 Tuesday in Charlotte in U.S. Open Cup action, staying on the road after last weekend’s 2-0 loss at CF Montreal. Both games could have gone either way but the inexplicable power outage of Orlando’s attack goes on. The team has a combined 24 shot attempts in the last two games and has put just two of them on frame — both by Kara.
The Lions are 2-1-1 on the road in league play this season after last Saturday’s loss, and 2-2-2 in all competitions away from Exploria Stadium.
Columbus enters tonight having lost two straight games as well, and the Crew are winless in three matches overall (0-2-1) in league play. The Crew did win its U.S. Open Cup third-round game during that stretch, back on April 26, squeaking past Indy Eleven, 1-0. Columbus is 3-1-1 at home this season, but that loss and the draw were in the most recent two matches — a 2-1 loss to Inter Miami and a 1-1 draw against New England.
The Crew are now coached by former CF Montreal manager Wilfried Nancy and they’ll try to play the way Montreal did under him. Expect 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. Lucas Zelarayan and Cucho Hernandez are obvious threats but midfielder Aidan Morris has joined them as an attacking presence in 2023.
“They play with a defense of three, very aggressive wingbacks, and with three attacking players that have very technical characteristics and a lot of mobility,” Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja said about tonight’s opponents. “A team who at home is very built on going forward, going forward, putting a lot of guys in the box, and (creating) a lot of problems defensively. They score goals. That’s pretty much what Columbus is. (This is) a game that needs a lot of concentration from us, but a lot of ambition as well. We need to go there with the mentality of ‘go win it.’ It’s a game against a tough rival, against a very aggressive rival, but we’re good. They need to be worried about us, too.”
Orlando City will be without Luca Petrasso (thigh), while Mauricio Pereyra (thigh) has been upgraded to questionable, a designation he shares with Felipe (lower leg). Columbus will be without Milos Degenek (ankle), Luis Diaz (back), Kevin Molino (knee), Eloy Room (knee), Will Sands (knee), and Josh Williams (ankle). Steven Moreira (thigh) is listed as questionable.
- Our Intelligence Report provides more info about Columbus with the help of Pat Murphy from the now-independent Crew SC blog, Massive Report.
- The most recent episode of The Mane Land PawedCast includes our key match-ups and score predictions.
- Our Nic Josey offered up his three keys to victory for Orlando City in this match.
Orlando City (3-4-2-1)
Goalkeeper: Pedro Gallese.
Defenders: Rodrigo Schlegel, Robin Jansson, Antonio Carlos.
Wingbacks / Central Midfielders: Gaston Gonzalez, Cesar Araujo, Wilder Cartagena, Ivan Angulo.
Attacking Midfielders: Martin Ojeda, Facundo Torres.
Forward: Ercan Kara.
Bench: Mason Stajduhar, Kyle Smith, Michael Halliday, Rafael Santos, Abdi Salim, Dagur Dan Thorhallsson, Shakur Mohammed, Ramiro Enrique, Duncan McGuire.
Columbus Crew (3-4-3)
Goalkeeper: Patrick Schulte.
Defenders: Gustavo Vallencilla, Philip Quinton, Steven Moreria.
Wingbacks / Central Midfielders: Yaw Yeboah, Darlington Nagbe, Aidan Morris, Mohamed Farsi.
Forwards: Jacen Russell-Rowe, Cucho Hernandez, Alexandru Matan.
Bench: Evan Bush, Jimmy Medranda, Malte Amundsen, Keegan Hughes, Sean Zawadski, Jake Morris, Isaiah Parente, Maximilian Arfsten, Christian Ramirez.
REF: Drew Fischer.
AR1: Kathryn Nesbitt.
AR2: Chantal Boudreau.
4TH: Brian Dunn.
VAR: Armando Villarreal.
AVAR: Tom Supple.
How to Watch
Match Time: 7:30 p.m.
Venue: Lower.com Field — Columbus, OH.
TV/Streaming: MLS Season Pass on Apple TV+
Radio: 96.9 FM The Game (English), Acción 97.9 FM, 810 AM (Spanish).
Enjoy the match. Go City!