Competition: Major League Soccer – Columbus Crew SC vs. Orlando City SC
Venue: MAPFRE Stadium – Saturday, April 18th – 19:30 ET (00:30 BST)
Match Odds: Columbus 10/11 – Draw 13/5 – Orlando 14/5
Columbus return home after back-to-back road games at Vancouver Whitecaps and New England Revolution, earning draws in both of those matches, and will want to pick up just their second win of the season in front of their own fans on Saturday.
The Crew have been playing relatively well and many feel that they are the team that play the most attractive football in MLS, but it’s time to start putting points on the board now.Embed from Getty Images
Their opponents Orlando have enjoyed a solid start to life as an MLS franchise and they too play some attractive, free-flowing football so this should be a treat for the neutral.
Orlando beat Portland Timbers 2-0 away from home last weekend as they remain unbeaten on the road and will travel to Columbus in high spirits.
This will be the first-ever meeting between the sides in MLS and is the first of three games this season, with the following two to be played in Orlando.
Columbus know a win will put them level on eight points with the Lions, who have played one game more, and this has all the makings of a classic between two sides with great attacking talents.
Kaka will look to continue to impress for Orlando, while Federico Higuain and Kei Kamara could cause problems for the Lions defence.
Columbus Crew could be without midfielder Wil Trapp, as the midfielder continues to struggle with concussion problems, while Waylon Francis (ankle) is also a doubt. Federico Higuain will start behind Kei Kamara in attack, with Ethan Finlay and Justin Meram likely to start on either flank. Chris Klute could start at left-back again in the absence of Francis.Embed from Getty Images
Orlando City will be without Tally Hall (knee) and Pedro Ribeiro (hamstring) for the trip to Columbus, while Martin Paterson (groin), Lewis Neal (neck) and Tony Cascio (back) could also miss out. Cyle Larin scored his first MLS goal last week and is expected to keep his place in attack. Brek Shea travelled with the USA squad for the friendly against Mexico but is expected to be back in the squad for the game on Saturday.
Columbus Crew’s form: L/W/L/D/D
Orlando City’s form: W/L/D/L/W
Key Stat: Columbus Crew have registered more shots per game than any other team in MLS so far this season (15.4).Embed from Getty Images
Key Player: Kaka – The Brazilian playmaker is key to Orlando’s hopes and has seemed to perform better on the road this season. He scored his third of the season at Portland last week and will be a real threat again in this one.
Columbus Crew 2-2 Orlando City – There is not enough to separate these two at this early stage of the season and so a draw is the most likely outcome, although we can expect to see plenty of goalmouth action as these two love to attack. This could be the game of the weekend.