Orlando City SC will put a 10-match unbeaten streak on the line when they host Columbus Crew SC at Exploria Stadium Sunday night.
The Lions (8-2-6) are fourth in the Eastern Conference following a 0-0 draw against Atlanta United, just one point behind third-place Columbus (9-3-4).
Orlando City has won the last two meetings in Orlando, including a 1-0 victory courtesy of a Benji Michel late winner last July.
Columbus Crew SC
Just a few weeks ago, the Crew was riding a six-match unbeaten streak and sat atop the Eastern Conference and Supporters' Shield standings. Now 0-2-1 in the last three matches, Columbus stands in third place but still within three points of the Supporters' Shield lead.
“Now we have to recover in three days, go on the road and then play one of the best teams in the league,” Head Coach Caleb Porter said after Wednesday's loss to Montreal.
“We have to make up for today because when you don’t take care of business at home against teams you should beat, you have to do it the hard way. The guys are gonna have to go and grind on the road, we have a bunch of games on the road, and we’ll have to make up for this.”
Porter, who said he remembers every loss of his 20-year coaching career, spoke about the attitude he's instilled in the team since joining Columbus in 2019 and how they need to live up to it as less than a month remains in the 2020 regular season.
"We never, ever want to lose a game and I think we have a standard this year where that's the case. It's not something we accept or are happy about. But, we also, we don't lose confidence, we don't lose belief and we don't lose energy. When we do, we just try to make it right the next game," Porter said.
"So, right now what we're focused on is, I think, winning the next game, and making sure at the end of the year we have the highest [playoff] seed possible."
Dependent upon this weekend's results in the East, a potential playoff-clinching scenario for the Crew could be in play next week following Sunday's match vs. Orlando City SC.
Orlando City SC
Against rival Atlanta United, Brian Rowe filled in for Pedro Gallese, who was called in for Peru’s upcoming World Cup qualifiers. Rowe, last year’s starter, made three point-preserving saves in his first appearance since Oct. 6, 2019, and Atlanta goalkeeper Brad Guzan was forced into making six saves with OCSC twice hitting the woodwork.
“Today the players, they left the field thinking that they left two points on the field,” Pareja said after the match.
“That's something important, so they were not so happy with a tie. I say, well, sometimes you take your point and leave, but they weren't happy with it. Not frustrated, but they weren't happy. I think it's what I mention before, they are convinced about what they are and no one has given anything to them. Nobody, nothing. They have earned it through the effort, the discipline, the desire to do the right things."
Sunday's match kicks off at 7:30 p.m. ET on SportsTime Ohio, 97.1 FM The Fan (English), and ColumbusCrewSC.com (Spanish).