It’s been two weeks since Columbus Crew SC stepped on the pitch for a competitive match, but the time has come for the Black & Gold to resume play. Columbus head south this week to take on a lackluster Orlando City team.
When we last left the Black & Gold, the team remained unbeaten in their last eight contests, clinching a spot in the 2017 MLS Cup playoffs after missing them in 2016. Crew SC look to continue a positive run of form against Orlando this Sunday.
Things have gone a bit differently for Orlando since the last time these teams met.
The Lions have just won two matches since the last meeting and sunk to near the bottom of the Eastern Conference, eliminating the team from playoff contention.
Let’s take a look at the Orlando City ahead of the clash with Crew SC on Sunday.
Orlando City at a glance
Leading Goal Scorer: Cyle Larin (12)
Assists Leader: Kaka and Dom Dwyer (4)
The Kaka Factor
Speculation was running rampant about the fate of midfielder Kaka the last couple of months. The Brazilian went back and fourth on a potential return to Orlando for a fourth season, but Kaka announced earlier this week that he would not return to the club in 2018.
This means Sunday’s match is the last time Kaka will suit up for Orlando City, as he already said he will not be available for selection in the club’s final game against the Philadelphia Union.
Cyle Larin and Dom Dwyer
The forward pairing was in its infancy when the two squads previously met, but the two forwards have developed a nice relationship in the past few matches.
Larin scored three times and Dwyer assisted on two of those occasions. The chemistry is developing between the strikers but it’s a case of “too little too late” for the Lions in 2017.
Nothing to lose, everything to gain
Sunday’s match is a tale of two different narratives.
For Orlando, the team says goodbye to a legend and a cornerstone of the young franchise. The club has little to gain with a win against Crew SC, but can play the role of spoiler for Columbus as a Lion victory could spoil Crew SC’s push for third place in the Eastern Conference.
A Black & Gold victory against OCSC on Sunday evening takes the club a step closer to a potential home playoff match, something that would go a long way in helping a deep postseason run. Crew SC sits in fifth place in the East entering this contest, but sits just three points back of third place Atlanta United.
How Crew SC win
Unlike the last match between these two teams, Columbus have everything to gain by being the aggressor. The Black & Gold need to continue to play their game and trust the process.
Crew SC can defeat the Lions with a steady diet of crisp and concise passes. This will open up channels in which the Columbus attack can maneuver and work to generate quality scoring chances. Look for Ola Kamara to continue his great off-the-ball movement and get a few chances against Joe Bendik.
With Orlando’s continued struggles to maintain possession, it could be a long day at the office for Kaka in his final match with Orlando City.
What do you expect to see from the Lions? Let us know in the comments below.