ORLANDO - It may not have been the prettiest affair, but it was a game the Black & Gold needed to win in order to maintain their 2013 preseason momentum. On a blustery night in central Florida, the Columbus Crew defeated USL-Pro side Orlando City by a final score of 3-2, leaving Ohio's Major League Soccer club 3-0-0 in the Disney Pro Soccer Classic and 5-1-0 in preseason play overall. The victory sees the Crew finish as group winners following consecutive victories over Toronto FC, Philadelphia Union and Orlando City. The Black & Gold face the Montreal Impact - winner of the tournament's other group - in next Saturday's Disney Pro Soccer Classic Final.
"The game was very physical and [Orlando] was very aggressive," said Crew boss Robert Warzycha following the win. "We tried to play the same game. We were aggressive...the second half was a little bit better. We started focusing on the game and playing the ball around. We found a way to win."
'Aggressive' might be the most appropriate word to describe the match, as the contest was marked by seven cautions, including the ejection of Orlando's James O'Connor in the 68th minute.
Central midfielder Agustin Viana kick-started the scoring by heading home Federico Higuain's set-piece in the 4th minute. However, veteran Chad Marshall sustained a head injury on the play, leading to his early exit. After the match Warzycha cautioned that his removal was just a precaution, and that Marshall will likely be on the mend soon.
"Chad got hit in the jaw, and he didn't have a headache or anything else. He'll be fine for the next game," said the Crew Head Coach.
Newly signed Drew Beckie replaced Marshall despite playing 45 minutes earlier in the day during the club's scrimmage with Sporting Kansas City.
Jamie Watson drew a goal back for Orlando, beating the Crew's backline in the 57th minute. Following O'Connor's dismissal, Josh Williams gave the Crew the lead once again during an Higuain corner kick, giving the Crew's Designated Player two assists on the evening. The Argentine added a goal to his final tally, converting a penalty kick in the 89th minute, negating Orlando's second goal ten minutes earlier.
The Crew will use Sunday as a regeneration day before resuming training in Orlando next week. The Disney Pro Soccer Classic Final on Saturday, February 23 will kick-off at 8:00 p.m. ET.
CLB - Viana (Higuaín) 4'
Orlando City - Watson 57'
CLB - Williams (Higuaín) 74'
Orlando City - Fekete 79'
CLB - Higuaín (PK) 89'
CLB - Higuaín (Caution) 21'
Orlando City - Watson (Caution) 41'
CLB - Arrieta (Caution) 43'
Orlando City - Diakhite (Caution) 49'
Orlando City - O'Connor (Caution) 59'
Orlando City - O'Connor (Ejection) 68'
CLB - Wiliams (Caution) 79'
Orlando City SC: Miguel Gallardo; Luke Boden, Oumar Diakhite**(Kieron Bernard, 54), Rob Valentino, Erik Burke; James O'Connor, Freddie Braun*, Jamie Watson, Keammar Daley** (Jonathan Mendoza**, 67'); Long Tan (Brian Fekete**, 70), Dennis Chin
Columbus Crew: Andy Gruenebaum; Josh Williams (Danny O'Rourke, 82), Chad Marshall (Drew Beckie, 7; Chad Barson, 46), Gláuber, Tyson Wahl; Dominic Oduro, Agustín Viana (Tony Tcani, 75), Matías Sánchez (Kevan George, 75), Eddie Gaven; Federico Higuaín, Jairo Arrieta