Columbus Crew SC end a three-match home stand with a game against Orlando City SC on Saturday night. The Black & Gold have not been successful in recent matches, going 0-3-4 over the last seven contests.
The positive for Columbus is Ola Kamara, who has replaced the departed Kei Kamara with nine goals in nine starts in 2016. The issue of late has been keeping the opposition from scoring, something Orlando does pretty well with 30 goals on the year.
The Lions are led by second-year forward Cyle Larin, who like Kamara has nine goals this season. Similar to Crew SC, the issues that have caused OCSC to drop to eighth place in the Eastern Conference — one spot ahead of Columbus — are on the defensive side of the ball where the club has conceded 33 goals in 22 matches.
While the Black & Gold continue to try and get healthy — Federico Higuain and Gaston Sauro have both been out with long-term injuries — and figure out how to rescue the year, Orlando City’s fortunes may be changing.
Just this week the club introduced Jason Kreis as the new manager and although he won’t be in charge for this match, Kreis have proven success turning MLS clubs into winners.
The Lions will also be boosted by the return of playmaker Kaka, who has missed multiple games this season due to various injuries. His return means the team will be better on the offensive end, which may take some of the pressure off the leaky defense.
On the other side, Higuain is close for Crew SC, but head coach Gregg Berhalter was noncommittal on whether his No. 10 would suit up for this contest. A defensive reinforcement arrived this week with the signing of Nicolai Næss, but he is still waiting work documents to arrive before he can play.
These two sides have only met three times, all in 2015, and the record is split at 1-1-1. The Black & Gold did take the one meeting at MAPFRE Stadium, defeating OCSC 3-0 on that night.
Here is all you need to know for the match as your prepare to watch Columbus take on the men in purple.
Keys to the Match
- Impactful possession: Both of these teams like to keep the ball and with Kaka likely back for Orlando City, the Lions will be even better at doing so. It will come down to which team can make something of the possession they have, i.e. turn it into chances.
- Defense vs. forwards: Both defenses like to give up goals and this match features two strikers in form. It will be a chess match on who can find the net first.
- Playmakers: Kaka’s return makes things easier for Orlando, but his missed time means the team has tried to learn to play without him. Meanwhile, Columbus has struggled to find a playmaker with Federico Higuain on the mend. Which side will adjust better?
How to Watch
Date/Time: July 23, 2016/7:30 p.m. EST
Venue: MAPFRE Stadium, Columbus, OH
Television: CW Columbus, TWC SportsChannel
Online: MLS Live
Radio: CD 102.5 (English), La Mega 103.1 (Spanish)
Come back during the match to chat with other Crew SC fans in the comment section below.