Columbus Crew SC wraps up its regular-season road schedule this weekend as the Black & Gold head south to face Orlando City SC with a chance to clinch a spot in the Audi 2018 MLS Cup Playoffs on Sunday, October 21 at 3 p.m. ET.
Crew SC continues to control its own destiny, as a win against Orlando seals a top-six finish for the Black & Gold. Additionally, Columbus could still clinch a postseason berth should the Montreal Impact lose OR draw vs. Toronto FC on Sunday.
"It’s extremely important to know that we are on the road this weekend and it’s crucial that we at least get a point out of the game", said Forward Gyasi Zardes regarding the team's mindset knowing what is on the line this weekend. "We can control our own destiny and if we play extremely well and get a result, you know, we can clinch a playoff spot."
Crew SC last took to the pitch on Oct. 6 in a 3-0 road loss to Montreal. Columbus totaled 14 shots, including nine on frame, while goalkeeper Zack Steffen totaled six saves. Columbus’ best chance came in the 36th minute as Zardes found himself alone for a back-post head, only to have his chance parried away by Montreal's Evan Bush.
On Wednesday night, Orlando City SC succumbed to a 2-1 home loss at the hands of the Seattle Sounders. The Sounders were on the board within the first three minutes of the match and doubled their lead in the 13th minute. Orlando responded in the second half but could not find the equalizer. Notably, Orlando's goal was the first tally for the club in over 500 minutes of play while the Lions remain winless in their last 13 games.
The two clubs last met at MAPFRE Stadium on July 21 where Columbus secured a late 3-2 victory. A brace from Zardes helped equalize the match before a 35-yard rocket in stoppage time from captain Wil Trapp secured the win.
Sporting Director & Head Coach Gregg Berhalter spoke to the importance of preparing for a positive outcome when playing any team in the league.
"I think it was a different game [last time we played Orlando]. I think there were different personnel on the field than will be on the field this game...It’s going to be a difficult game and we are going to have to be prepared if we want to win," said Berhalter.
Crew SC holds a 5-2-2 all-time record against the Lions.
Columbus closes out the regular season at home on Sunday, Oct. 28, against Minnesota United FC. The match kicks off at 4:30 p.m. ET.