On Saturday night, Columbus Crew SC head on the road to take on Orlando City SC at the Citrus Bowl for the first time ever.
The Black & Gold enter the match after a disappointing tie at home with the Chicago Fire last week. Crew SC held a two goal lead in the match thanks to a brace from striker Kei Kamara. The two goals put Kamara alone atop the MLS scoring charts, but weren't enough to get his team another three points at home, as Chicago scored a stoppage time equalizer.
There was a mid-week friendly for the Black & Gold, who took on Valencia CF on Wednesday. They fell 1-0 to the Spanish side, while playing two different mixed lineups in either half.
Columbus is looking for the team's first victory away from MAPFRE Stadium this year. They go against a side they have already faced one, defeating them 3-0 on the Ohio State Fair grounds. OCSC played most of the match a man down after Rafael Ramos received a straight red card in the first half.
Since that match, Orlando has a record of 1-2-2 with their lone victory coming over the defending champions, the LA Galaxy. That win was the team's first at home in MLS play and Kaka and company will looking to build off that in this one.
For a little more insight into City, I turned to SB Nation's The Mane Land and spoke with Managing Editor Michael Citro.
Questions for The Mane Land
Massive Report: The last time these two teams played, Orlando played down a man for 56 minutes. How much can Crew SC fans take away from OCSC from that performance? How might things have been different if Rafael Ramos had not been ejected?
The Mane Land: That was by far Orlando City's worst performance of the season and was certainly not the team we've seen pretty much all year. I don't know that Crew fans can take anything of note from the game. The team hasn't even been the same when down a man, actually taking a lead at San Jose last week after Brek Shea's ejection.
Before Ramos got sent off, we saw a typical Orlando road game, with the Lions yielding possession for about 15 minutes, then settling in and getting more of the ball and starting to create things moving forward. Because Columbus plays a similar style, I think we'd have seen a beautiful, flowing match with chances both ways. Ramos seems to have used the experience as a learning tool. He had a bad giveaway against the New England Revolution that led to a goal a few weeks ago but responded by setting up the first goal in a two-goal comeback to draw.
MR: Orlando earned the team's first home win two weeks ago against the LA Galaxy in convincing fashion. Do you expect them to carry the momentum of the 4-0 victory into this match despite a 1-1 draw on the road a week ago?
TML: I think they will. The team was a bit off at Levi's Stadium last week, but still created some good chances, even after Shea was sent off. Cyle Larin grows more dangerous each game and Adrian Heath has the club starting to play the way he originally envisioned. Orlando City has started scoring goals at home and has gained in confidence. They will expect three points out of this game and if they play well, they're fully capable of taking them.
MR: Taking away Kaka's three penalty kick goals and he sits at two on the season. The announcers before the Galaxy game made a big deal about his lackadaisical performances in some games this year. How would you rate the former World Player of the Year's performances and what do you expect going forward?
TML: Kaká started the year playing very well, and after a few games, there was sufficient film for opposing coaches to game plan for what Orlando was trying to do. Not all of Kaká's issues were on him. Did he try to take too much on himself at times? Sure. That's not uncommon for a star player. Where he struggled was when his teammates started to rely too much on him. Kevin Molino and Eric Avila started to play too narrowly so they could play to Kaká easier and the team failed to use the width of the field, so there was no way for anyone to run in behind the defense for him to play the ball to.
It should be noted that the Brazilian's struggles also coincided with two major changes in the lineup—Pedro Ribeiro's absence due to injury, and Brek Shea's move to left wing to compensate for the season-ending loss of Molino. I think Kaká really only had two or three subpar matches and the away loss at D.C. United was the only truly poor performance. In the others he at least continued to create chances for others.
It's also important to realize Kaká looks to pass first and shoot second, so it's not a big issue if he isn't scoring, as long as he's facilitating.
To see the return questions, you can find Michael's interview with me here.