If you’re looking for two teams not having the type of season they hoped for in Major League Soccer, come to MAPFRE Stadium on Saturday night. Columbus Crew SC welcomes Orlando City SC to town in a battle of two side on the outside of the MLS playoff picture at the moment.
The Crew’s struggles have come in bunches since getting off to a 4-1-1 start to the year. The Black & Gold have just one win and four points in the last 11 contests and continue to have absences from key players, be in injury, suspension or international duty. It hasn’t been much better for Orlando, who sit one point ahead of Columbus for ninth in the East. City has two wins in the team’s last four games, but that comes after a stretch of four games without a victory.
To learn a little bit more about Orlando, we turned to our friends at The Mane Land and staff writer Ben Miller.
Questions for The Mane Land
Massive Report: Nani was the major addition for Orlando this offseason. How has the Portuguese star done in his first year with the club?
The Mane Land: He’s done very well and a lot better than I think a lot of people expected. He leads the team in both goals and assists but beyond the stats he brought a level of quality to the team that it was lacking last year. His inclusion as an MLS All-Star was well deserved and he’s usually pretty central to what the team does well.
MR: Looking at OCSC’s season to date, it’s been a lot of ups and downs and now just two wins in the last eight. What’s caused the inconsistency for the club and how confident are you this team can find its form and make a run in the second half of the season?
TML: A lot of it has to do with difficulty finishing chances and scoring goals. Many of the losses have come by 1 goal, like the recent 1-0 loss to D.C. United. Often the team creates a reasonable number of chances but if you can’t put the ball in the net it’s going to be tough to win and that’s been the case for Orlando so far.
MR: City played on Wednesday night against D.C. United. How do you think that impacts how James O’Connor lines up his squad on Saturday and maybe any tactical adjustments the Orlando boss might make going on the road on short rest with an Open Cup game next week?
TML: I think there’s a very good chance it changes things. The team is in the middle of a stretch where they’ll play something like 9 games in 32 days so rotation will certainly be needed. I think Benji Michel or Santiago Patino might feature in the starting lineup and I certainly wouldn’t be surprised to see the team sit back and try to hit on the counter rather than trying to be aggressive and take things to Columbus.
To read Massive Report’s answers to The Mane Land’s questions, check out their Intelligence Report from this week.