The Columbus Crew recently claimed a narrow but significant victory last week.
Up against rivals FC Cincinnati, Columbus’ losing streak was snapped thanks to a 3-2 win at home.
In order to find the previous time the current title-holders collected three points in a game, you would have to go back to late July when they snuck by with a 1-0 away result vs Atlanta United.
Can they do it again this Saturday against Orlando City?
Orlando are clearly having a good season so far with their current spot at 2nd in the Eastern Conference table, but that said, they have shown some weaknesses.
It may not be enough to earn a surprise away victory altogether, but Columbus do have a chance.
|Orlando City vs Columbus Crew Information|
|Teams||Orlando City vs Columbus Crew|
|Location||Exploria Stadium (Orlando, Florida)|
|Time||Saturday, September 4th at 4:30pm PT/7:30pm ET)|
|How to Watch||ESPN+|
There’s something a bit odd about Orlando in the last month or so.
Whether it be due to a busy schedule or energy simply running out, they’ve looked sluggish since the beginning of August.
Despite their strong start that has currently put them near the top of the Eastern Conference standings, Orlando only have one win in their last six games in all competitions.
A majority of those games have been at home as well.
So what’s happening to manager Oscar Pareja and his men? They seem to be doing alright defensively, so what is it that has stopped them from claiming recent victories?
In order to pinpoint that answer, you’ll need to look towards the frontline.
In spite of their backline doing well, there’s a reason why Orlando have four draws in their last five MLS matches.
Once an efficient team in the final third, they’re now suddenly struggling with scoring.
Orlando were scoreless in their latest 0-0 draw with Florida rivals Inter Miami, and in their four previous MLS games, they only scored four times.
Perhaps their place at 2nd in the Eastern Conference is making them almost too comfortable…
“I think this is going to help us work a little harder,” said Crew manager Caleb Porter after their latest win. “Believe a little more.”
A win that snaps a six-game losing streak — especially against a rival — is something that shouldn’t be overlooked.
It was an invaluable moment for Porter and his men, and looking ahead, this could be the exact catalyst that they need before the end of the MLS regular season.
Against Cincinnati, Lucas Zelarayan was mesmerizing with his role in the attack, Darlington Nagbe worked tirelessly in the midfield and substitute Miguel Berry was crucial with his goals.
By the way, that’s the third time that Berry has scored for Columbus in his last five games.
If Porter is looking for a late impact player against Orlando, he has an easy solution with Berry on the bench.
It doesn’t take much research to realize that Orlando have yet to make their home ground a difficult one for opponents this season.
Let’s go through some of their results at Exploria Stadium since July.
A 2-1 loss to New York Red Bulls, a narrow 2-1 win over Philadelphia Union, a close 3-2 win against Atlanta, a 1-1 draw with Miami, a 1-0 loss to Santos Laguna in Leagues Cup, a narrow 1-0 win over the Chicago Fire, and finally, last week’s 0-0 draw with Miami.
There’s no lack of draws or losses and the victories are far too close.
In fact, of their last 10 games in all competitions at Exploria Stadium, Orlando only have a single win with a goal margin that is greater than one.
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Freelance writer Cesar Hernandez is a specialist in all things American and Mexican soccer. He has written for ESPN FC, The Athletic, The Guardian, FourFourTwo, VICE Sports and several other publications. Along with writing and previous radio appearances on the BBC, talkSPORT and SiriusXM FC, Cesar is also a member of the Mexican Soccer Show podcast. Email: [email protected]More info on Cesar Hernandez
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