The Pedro Santos era dawns this evening. It’s unclear if he will start, but head coach Gregg Berhalter is very high on the Portuguese winger. Expect the new Designated Player in the lineup at some point tonight.
Santos won’t be the only reinforcement as it also sounds like Federico Higuain is finally ready for game action. Berhalter has been mum on how the team will lineup, but it’s likely that he’ll make the 18 and there’s even a chance that the crafty Argentine gets a surprise start.
Orlando City really needs a win after a three month swoon or they will fall dangerously far behind the playoff pace. They will be without the incomparable Kaka who is red card suspended.
Prized midseason pickup Dom Dwyer may be back in the lineup after missing last week. The OCSC faithful have been eager to see the American international paired with the powerful Canadian forward Cyle Larin. It looks like the Crew SC backline will get to see them first hand.
Keys to the match:
How long?: Santos and Higuain sound ready to go, but how much do each of them have in the tank. Berhalter had a planned substitution for Harrison Afful last week, it would be hard to have two of them this week. Santos played for Braga this summer and is closer to match fit, but hasn’t played too much with Crew SC. Higuain’s last game action was on July 1st. Perhaps Berhalter sees them as a platoon.
Feats of Strength: Dwyer and Larin physical forwards who are mobile. The two of them present a challenge unlike the single striker that Nemanja Nikolic provided last week. These two can battle with the toughest backlines in MLS. Lalas Abubakar is coming off a fine week where he showed off his physicality, but Jonathan quietly had a good game, dominating down the stretch.
Playing their game: Columbus has gotten better at playing without possession over the last month. They can counter and pick their chances, but with the addition of Santos and Higuain, Crew SC may finally be able to play their game, one based on building possession and getting the right shot.
How to Watch:
Date/Time: Saturday Aug. 19th, 7:30 p.m. ET
Venue: Orlando City Stadium (Orlando, FL)
Watch: CW Columbus, Spectrum Sports (Channel Guide)
Stream: MLS Live
Listen: CD102.5 FM (English Broadcast) La Mega 103.1 FM (Spanish)