Less than two weeks after Columbus Crew SC’s 2-0 home loss to Orlando City SC, the Black & Gold (5-13-2, 17 pts.), who missed key cogs in June 29 meeting due to international duty, head south to take on an Orlando side that will be competing in its fourth match in 11 days as part of a larger six-match, 19-day stretch.
A win on Saturday would still see Columbus occupying the 11th spot in the Eastern Conference, though it would put the Black & Gold within striking distance of seventh-place Toronto FC, who currently sits just above the red line with 23 points.
The last time down south, Orlando (6-9-4, 22 pts.) topped Crew SC 2-1 on Oct. 21, 2018 thanks to two Lions' penalty kick conversions, including one from Sacha Kljestan in second-half stoppage time that tipped the three points Orlando’s way in what was otherwise a deserved draw for the Crew.
Overall, Columbus’ success in Orlando remains even-keeled, as the Black & Gold are 2-2-2 in six regular-season matches at Exploria Stadium with a goal-differential of zero (11 GF, 11 GA). As even as the road fixtures have been, historically speaking, the Crew cannot rest on any defensive laurels as Columbus is one of two teams to concede 10-plus goals at Exploria Stadium.
All-time, Orlando is 29-26-22 at home since joining the League in 2015 and are 3-5-1 in MLS regular-season play at home in 2019, most recently falling 3-1 to the Philadelphia Union on July 3. Additionally, the Lions are on a two-match regular-season losing skid with the inclusion of a 1-0 loss to the LA Galaxy on May 24.
Individually, Orlando has four players with at least five goals each, led by early-season acquisition Nani, who leads the team with eight goals and seven assists. Chris Mueller and Tesho Akindele, who have combined for 11 goals and four assists this season, each scored in the June 29 match, with Nani as the primary assist provider on both tallies.
Speaking of the June 29 meeting, the Lions scored twice on just three shots to help feed a 16.46 percent conversion rate, which ranks fifth-best in MLS. Shots-wise, the Crew outpaced Orlando 10-3 to go along with a 13-2 advantage in corners. Additionally, Crew SC held on to nearly 60 percent of the possession while Orlando struggled to find much outlet space, clearing the ball a game-high 45 times
Looking at this season’s scoring, Orlando’s 27 total goals lies in the middle of the pack, while both Orlando and Columbus fall towards the bottom of the League in chances created, with Orlando edging the Crew 159 to 153.
Come Saturday, Columbus eyes restitution as the Black & Gold look to break a four-match losing skid and prevent Orlando from a regular-season sweep for the first time since they joined MLS.
Kickoff is slated for 7:30 p.m. ET and supporters can watch the match on FOX Sports Ohio, stream on FOX Sports GO, or listen on 97.1 FM The Fan or www.ColumbusCrewSC.com (English & Spanish).