We have reached MLS Decision. The final day of the Major League Soccer season is upon us and there is still plenty to play for if you’re the Columbus Crew.
A draw or a win on Decision Day and the Crew make the 2022 MLS Cup playoffs. There’s no scoreboard watching required and no elaborate formulas in the standings to see the Black & Gold into postseason soccer. The only thing in the team’s way is Orlando City SC.
Back on April 16, Columbus lost to Orlando 2-0 at home with a Crew side that was down a healthy Lucas Zelarayán and hadn’t cleared up its striker position. Since then, both the Black & Gold and Lions have transformed as teams and played a lot of matches.
To catch up on almost six months away from the Central Florida side, Massive Report worked spoke The Mane Land’s Ben Miller to learn more about Orlando City.
Massive Report: At the end of August, everything was going right for Orlando. Big wins against tough Eastern Conference opponents and a big U.S. Open Cup final trophy. Since then, the Lions won one out of five with four losses. What’s changed for OCSC?
The Mane Land: Orlando hasn’t been helped by the injury to center back Robin Jansson, which has deprived the team of its first choice center back pairing in Jansson and Antonio Carlos. The Lions just look shakier in defense when the two of them aren’t back there together, and a congested fixture list to close out the season has made things a little difficult too.
This team also just looked a little more inspired in the leadup to the Open Cup final, and some of that now seems to have worn off. Outside of a 4-0 manhandling of Toronto, this team needs another spark.
MR: Outside of recent results, Orlando’s made a killing off late comebacks. Now they face a team that’s susceptible to late-blown leads. What makes Orlando so dangerous at the end of matches?
ML: Head coach Oscar Pareja has been wise about when he’s using his substitutions and who he’s bringing into the game. He’s made moves in several games which have changed the tide and helped Orlando get a result, one of the most noteworthy being Benji Michel’s entrance into the Open Cup final. Outside of that, the team just has a belief that if it’s still in the game late it can go on and find a result from somewhere. That resilience plays a big part in things.
MR: Sunday, OCSC and the Crew play for a spot in the MLS Cup playoffs with Columbus only needing a draw to kick Orlando out of postseason play. How do you think the Lions line up? Who’s a name to watch for the home side and what’s your match prediction?
ML: After getting a frankly boneheaded yellow card against Miami, defender Antonio Carlos will also be missing for this game.
For the lineup, I see it like this:
Pedro Gallese; Joao Moutinho, Rodrigo Schlegel, Kyle Smith, Ruan; Cesar Araujo, Mauricio Pereyra; Facundo Torres, Junior Urso, Ivan Angulo; Ercan KaraI’m going to say a 2-2 draw that leaves Orlando needing help from D.C. United to squeak into the postseason.