Columbus Crew 2 takes on Orlando City B on Sunday at Historic Crew Stadium, attempting to remain at the top of the MLS NEXT Pro Eastern Conference. While Orlando hasn’t performed as well as Columbus in the standings, sitting on 11 points to Crew 2’s 27, both teams have the league’s top goalscorers with the Black & Gold’s Jacen Russell-Rowe and Orlando’s Jack Lynn both on nine goals this season.
Crew 2 has been on a roll in the last two games, dominating the month of June. The Black & Gold have scored nine goals in the last two games, both wins, while only conceding two goals, and coming off of a clean sheet performance against Inter Miami II last week.
Columbus and Orlando City have already met once this season in April, with Crew 2 winning the contest 2-0. However, the Black & Gold allowed far too many shots on goal to Orlando and the Lions surely will hope to not be as messy this time around.
This Crew 2 squad is a well-oiled machine, which has led to the 27 points in 11 matches, tied for the league’s second-best record with St Louis City2 and North Texas SC and behind only the Tacoma Defiance on 28 points. The Black & Gold have figured out a balance of being dangerous in attack while maintaining a stable backline.
That dangerous attack will look to continue as in the battle between the league’s top goalscorers. Russell-Rowe has scored in his last eight appearances for Columbus, but did come off the bench to play for the first team in a 1-1 draw against Charlotte FC on Saturday night. Lynn has been on a hot streak himself, scoring in each of his last four appearances.
Orlando is on the opposite side of form as the Lions have lost each of their last three games. Orlando has not won a match since a dominating 6–0 win against Inter Miami in the middle of May. OCSC has not conceded nearly as many goals, allowing three goals in the team’s last two matches, but needs to find goals outside of Lynn.
Lynn has been a tremendous asset for Orlando this season, but of the 15 goals the Lions have scored this season, only six of them have come from somebody outside of the forward. Orlando has only managed two wins in 10 matches but has a goal difference of zero.
Crew 2 will go into this game as the favorites and for good reason, but this matchup is the perfect opportunity for Orlando to catch Columbus sleeping and get goals early from a lethal attack. However, if the Black & Gold come out of the gate focused and ready, they have the quality to dominate.
Kickoff for Sunday’s event is at 2 p.m. ET at Historic Crew Stadium. The Crew 2 match will be followed by the Columbus Eagles game against Century United, which begins at 5 p.m. ET as part of a doubleheader for the lucky Columbus fans.