Welcome to your match thread for a Saturday night matchup between Orlando City (13-6-8, 47 points) and the Columbus Crew (13-8-6, 45 points) at Exploria Stadium (7:30 p.m., MLS Season Pass on Apple TV+). This is the second of the two scheduled meetings between the two Eastern Conference rivals in 2023.
Here’s what you need to know about the match.
The Lions are 9-6-3 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 10-6-3 overall mark in all competitions (7-2-2 at home).
These teams met previously this season in Columbus on May 13, 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 last 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 Facundo 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 Rodrigo 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, 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 having gone unbeaten in its previous five league games (4-0-1), including an impressive 1-0 road victory at FC Cincinnati 14 days ago in the team’s last match prior to the international window. The Lions are 6-3-4 at home this season in MLS play and are currently riding an eight-game home unbeaten streak (5-0-3) in the regular season and a 10-match home unbeaten run in all competitions (6-0-4).
The Crew enter just 3-7-3 in road games this season, but they did manage a 4-2 win at CF Montreal in their last match, riding a Cucho Hernandez hat trick to an away victory north of the border on Sept. 2. Columbus is on a good run of overall form since being knocked out of Leagues Cup, going 3-1-0 since returning to league play, including shutout wins over Cincinnati and Toronto (both at home).
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. Hernandez and Christian Ramirez are obvious threats but midfielder Aidan Morris has joined them as an attacking presence in 2023. Russell-Rowe, who played primarily for the team’s MLS NEXT Pro squad last season, is also a threat to score. The Crew lead the Eastern Conference in goals scored (54) and goal difference (+17). The addition of Rudy Camacho has bolstered the Columbus defense, while the midseason additions of Julian Gressel and Diego Rossi give the Crew even more attacking bite.
“They are a good rival who have been very well coached,” Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja said ahead of the match. “We had a good result in Columbus and we had good experiences in that game, and we are trying to train, simulate, and prepare for the game. Like always, we want to optimize the players in the best way possible and use this time to allow some of the player to rest, but now it’s full steam ahead because we want to be ready.”
Orlando City will be without Wilder Cartagena (red card suspension), Antonio Carlos (lower leg) and Favian Loyola (arm), while Gaston Gonzalez (thigh) has been upgraded to questionable. Columbus will be without Will Sands (knee).
- 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, along with a preview by Massive Report contributor Collin Johnson.
- Our David Rohe offered up his three keys to victory for Orlando City in this match.
Orlando City 4-2-3-1)
Goalkeeper: Pedro Gallese.
Defenders: Rafael Santos, Rodrigo Schlegel, Robin Jansson, Dagur Dan Thorhallsson.
Defensive Midfielders: Cesar Araujo, Felipe.
Attacking Midfielders: Ivan Angulo, Mauricio Pereyra, Martin Ojeda.
Bench: Mason Stajduhar, Michael Halliday, Kyle Smith, Luca Petrasso, Abdi Salim, Junior Urso, Gaston Gonzalez, Facundo Torres, Jack Lynn.
Columbus Crew (3-4-3)
Goalkeeper: Patrick Schulte.
Defenders: Malte Amundsen, Rudy Camacho, Steven Moreira.
Wingbacks / Central Midfielders: Yaw Yeboah, Aidan Morris, Darlington Nagbe, Julian Gressel.
Forwards: Diego Rossi, Cucho Hernandez, Alexandru Matan.
Bench: Evan Bush, Max Arfsten, Yevhen Cheberko, Jimmy Medranda, Kevin Molino, Mohamed Farsi, Sean Zawadski, Jacen Russell-Rowe, Christian Ramirez.
REF: Rubiel Vazquez.
AR1: Andrew Bigelow.
AR2: Meghan Mullen.
4TH: Malik Badawi.
VAR: Daniel Radford.
AVAR: Mike Kampmeinert.
How to Watch
Match Time: 7:30 p.m.
Venue: Exploria Stadium — Orlando.
TV/Streaming: MLS Season Pass on Apple TV+
Radio: FM 104.1 Real Radio (English), Acción 97.9 FM, 810 AM (Spanish).
Enjoy the match. Go City!