- Matthew Laboissonniere
Columbus Crew Match Preview
Maybe this is the birth of a new run of form for the Lions. This Saturday they take on the Columbus Crew at 7:30pm EST on the road. The squad is coming off a hard-fought, deserved win vs the Chicago Fire last time out in what was a rematch of the teams' previous meeting this season. In addition, over the past couple days, the signing of Argentine winger Gaston Gonzalez was basically made official. It’s a signing the club has been working on for a while and it’s finally been completed. Expected to appear for the Lions in early May, the young South American operates mainly on the left hand side, which is nicely contrasted with Torres. Why not another technically gifted player to throw into the fire?
The Crew are a team struggling to score goals right now, coming off of a couple 1-0 losses to Nashville SC and the Philadelphia Union. Both the Crew and the Lions have been struggling to put away chances recently, with the latter missing multiple against Chicago, in a game that could have been 4-0. Back at home to welcome Orlando, I expect more goals to be invited to this party. It’s a battle to see who can minimize mistakes and capitalize on chances this Saturday.
Orlando City Stats
3-2-2, Top Goal Scorer: Urso/Pato, Top Assister: Pereyra, WLDWL
Columbus Crew Stats
2-2-2, Top Goal Scorer: Zelarayan Top Assister: Etienne, Moreira, Zelarayan, LLDWD
1. Picking the Right Passes
Orlando wants to have the ball and wants to be in the final third. The fullbacks for the Lions love to get forward and that puts a lot of responsibility on the central midfielders, like Araujo and Mendez, to pick the right passes when going forward with an advantage. Pereyra loves to find that special through ball or a key pass between the lines, but sometimes he needs to play the simple pass. Columbus can take advantage of the counter attack if they sniff out the through ball, and then turn it into a quick offense. With the fullbacks having to haul to get back, it could result in lots of transition offense for the Crew if the Lions do not protect the ball on Saturday.
2. Midfield Battle is Key
Most footy matches are decided in the midfield. Whether it’s sniffing out attacking threats, carrying the ball forward, or dictating the pace of the game, you win tough matches with good midfielders. The Lions have a solid foundation of midfielders with Araujo, Urso, Mendez, and Pereyra. Columbus have some talent of their own, including Nagbe, Artur, and Zelarayan, who is excellent going forward. The Crew won’t be as defensively minded as the Fire, so Urso could see some more freedom going forward and the creativity may start to show in Columbus.
3. Finish the Chances
I mentioned it multiple times already in this article and clearly I’m not afraid to say it again. We saw Kara, Pato, and Torres find the ball with plenty of freedom and options in attack vs the Fire. Only one was capitalized on with the header from Kara, but the Lions need to stop being so wasteful in big games. The Fire were a bit more defensive than the Crew will be, so even wasted opportunities were quickly forgotten. In a game against Columbus, those missed chances can come back to haunt you quickly. It’s safe to say Orlando has too many quality attacking options to only be scoring 1 goal or less a game. Open the damn floodgates.
A Look at the Crew
~ very proficient style of offense, slowed up in past few games, but had 4 goals from outside of the box in prior matches
~ not as strong-minded defensively but still not to be taken lightly
~ Zelarayan very dangerous going forward, 4 goals already on the year
~ Crew have the most total scoring attempts in the league, but only 29.7% shooting accuracy
2-0 Orlando. I’m hoping that the game vs the Fire with all the missed chances will start to result in more goals for Orlando. I think Torres gets on the score sheet as well. It’s a good test for the defense to have a clean sheet against a prolific offense that’s gone quiet as of late. Vamos!