COLUMBUS – Columbus Crew SC continued its attacking and winning ways on Saturday at MAPFRE Stadium, defeating Orlando City SC, 2-0, and won their third consecutive Major League Soccer match. Justin Meram scored both early and late in the victory.
Artur provided Meram with an assist over the top of the Orlando defense in the 13th minute, and Meram made his way into the box and finished with a quick shot off the left flank against Orlando goalkeeper Joe Bendik.
Meram then provided the exclamation point in the 77th minute after some blurred footwork in the box off an assist from midfielder Federico Higuaín to push the lead and eventual final score to 2-0.
Columbus improved to 3-1-1 (10 pts.) while Orlando dropped to 2-1-0 (6 pts.) after the loss.
Crew SC's domination was a MLS national broadcast on UniMas and Facebook Live on Univision Deportes' page.
Crew SC's defense was overpowering on a chilly afternoon with the temperature in the 40s in Columbus. The Black & Gold continued their passing onslaught, outpassing Orlando in the victory. Crew SC led the MLS in passes and completed passes leading up to the match.
Orlando was undefeated and untied coming into the match. Their attacking duo of Carlos Rivas and Cyle Larin had been one of the best up until this point in the season, with Larin owning three goals, as many or more than nine MLS teams. The feared attack was stifled by the Crew SC defense and goalkeeper Zack Steffen.
Steffen held off an intense Orlando attack during the second half while pitching the shutout. The first-year starting goalkeeper recorded four saves while being between the posts for all 90 minutes of play.
Saturday’s matchup was Crew SC’s sixth against Orlando. The Black & Gold improved their head-to-head record to 3-1-2, while bringing the overall scoring tally to 15-10 in favor of Columbus.
13’ – CLB – Justin Meram (Artur)
77’ – CLB – Justin Meram (Federico Higuaín)
Higuaín guts it out
The veteran Higuaín was listed on the injury report prior to the game with a sprained ankle. The midfielder played all 90 minutes for Crew SC and led the team to a defensive shutout from the middle while also providing a crucial assist to Meram for a second-half score. He also advanced into the top-five for all time assists for Crew SC with 37, tying Brian Maissonneuve for fifth.
An attacking change soon to come?
Even with Meram’s huge day consisting of two goals, there is cause for speculation over whether there will be an upcoming change on the attack for Crew SC. Kekuta Manneh, a highly-touted forward who was acquired from Vancouver earlier this week, was introduced before the game and is expected to add skill and competition to the scoring effort of the Black & Gold.
Crew SC has a record of 5-1-1 in their last seven home games at MAPFRE Stadium.