So with one final home fixture remaining for Orlando City SC this 2017 season, Columbus Crew visit Orlando City Stadium for a second time in three months.
A campaign that promised so much for Jason Kreis‘ side, the Lions’ overall performance has been hugely underwhelming this year with only pride to play for in the two fixtures that remain.
Failing to reach the MLS Cup Playoffs for a third consecutive season, there has been a lot of finger pointing this year with much work to do both on and off the field during the off-season.
Having said that, Orlando City SC have at least showed greater heart and fight towards the back end of the season, earning a thumping 6-1 win over New England Revolution and a hard fought 0-0 draw with FC Dallas last time out.
Now hoping to grab all three points in our final home game of our inaugural season at Orlando City Stadium, Gregg Berhalter’s Columbus Crew visit Central Florida in confident mood.
Having already qualified for the 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs following their 2-0 victory over D.C. United last time out, Crew currently sit on 50 points in the Eastern Conference.
Columbus Crew have proved a particularly tricky opponent for Orlando City SC in Major League Soccer with the Lions only defeating the Ohio-based side ONCE in seven league attempts.
With the Black and Gold full of confidence right now and boasting a strikeforce that includes Federico Higuaín, Ola Kamara, Justin Meram and Kekuta Manneh, it won’t be easy for Orlando City SC to close out the home season with a win.
2015/17 head-to-head stats
This fixture represents Columbus Crew’s second visit to Orlando City Stadium in three months with both sides playing out a 1-1 draw back on August 19th.
Heading into this game, only all three points would do for Orlando City SC whose MLS Cup qualification hopes were desperately slipping out of their grasp.
Following our 3-1 loss at New York Red Bulls, we needed a reaction but again, City struggled to find their rhythm in this one.
Orlando City SC 1 Columbus Crew 1 – Highlights – August 19, 2017 (Credit: Major League Soccer)
As we mentioned at the outset, Columbus Crew have been a really tough nut for Orlando City SC to crack in Major League Soccer.
Only defeating Gregg Berhalter’s side ONCE in league play so far, our only other victory against Crew (2-0) came in the fifth round of 2015 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.
The Black and Gold comfortably defeated Orlando City SC 2-0 in our first away fixture this season with Iraq international Justin Meram in fine form to score a brace at MAPFRE Stadium.
Columbus Crew 2 Orlando City SC 0 – Highlights – April 1, 2017 (Credit: Major League Soccer)
Back in our inaugural 2015 season, tensions ran particularly high in Orlando City SC versus Columbus Crew encounters.
With Rafael Ramos seeing red in a 3-0 loss at Crew in April 2015, Michael Parkhurst also saw red in the club’s 2-2 draw at the Citrus Bowl a month later.
Add in Harrison Afful’s dismissal following Video Action Replay intervention in the club’s last meeting and for whatever reason, these head-to-heads often keep PRO Referees busy.
Orlando City SC 2 Columbus Crew 2 – Highlights – May 30, 2015 (Credit: Major League Soccer)
Orlando City SC form
Since 2015, we’ve been overly reliant on the Canadian international scoring goals and the 22-year-old has happy memories when facing Columbus Crew.
Scoring a brace in August 2015’s 5-2 win over the Black and Gold, Cyle Larin also scored in July 2016’s 2-2 draw and September 2016’s 1-4 loss.
With Jason Kreis playing Kaká in place of Larin as a withdrawn forward behind Dom Dwyer in recent games against New England Revolution and FC Dallas, perhaps he is already preparing for life without the Canadian?
We all pray this isn’t the last time we get to see Cyle Larin perform at Orlando City Stadium!
Columbus Crew form
The good news for Orlando City SC heading into this fixture is the fact that Columbus Crew are far from infallible in defence on the road.
A side brimming with confidence right now, Columbus Crew haven’t found scoring goals a problem recently.
Scoring AT LEAST TWO GOALS in FIVE of their last SIX MLS fixtures, attacking duo Ola Kamara and Justin Meram have been in deadly form.
In Crew’s last six MLS fixtures, the Norwegian international has scored four goals while the Iraqi international has notched three.
Having already clinched qualification to the 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs of course, Columbus Crew are a side on an upward trajectory.
Undefeated in their last EIGHT MLS fixtures, Gregg Berhalter’s men have won FIVE of those games in the process.
Boasting enough self-belief that they can put a run of results together beyond the regular season, the ever-meticulous Berhalter will be looking to head into the playoffs with a couple more wins under his belt.
It’s up to the Orlando City SC players to prove that our self-pride means much more than Crew’s will to see out the 2017 regular season in style.