The Columbus Crew will try to break out of their funk when they pay a visit to Orlando City SC on Saturday night. The struggling Crew is only a modest underdog at +304 compared to Orlando at -120. Meanwhile, a draw between the two teams is listed at +263.
The Crew is currently mired in a five-game losing streak, including a 2-0 home loss against Orlando in late June. Those struggles have dropped Columbus to 11th in the Eastern Conference standings. They began the weekend six points out of a playoff spot, needing to leapfrog four other teams to get there.
Of course, Orlando City SC is one of those four teams. The Lions sit on 22 points but outside of the playoff picture. Despite surviving a US Open Cup shootout midweek, Orlando City has just one win in their last four league games, making them desperate to get on track with the midway point of the season behind them.
A Little Lucky
When these teams met just a couple of weeks ago, Orlando City was perhaps a little fortunate to walk away with all three points. They only held 42% of the possession and managed just three shots on goal. Of course, all three of those shots were on goal, and two found the back of the net thanks to a pair of assists by Nani.
The veteran Portuguese international will remain a huge factor for this matchup. Orlando will be a little hurt by the absence of Sacha Kljestan and João Moutinho due to suspension and injury, respectively, but Nani gives them a difference-maker, leading the team in both goals and assists. Orlando also has several other match-winners with the likes of Dom Dwyer, Tesho Akindele, and Christopher Mueller, so it’s not hard to favor them to find a game-winner, even if they don’t dominate the match, especially at home.
The Band is Back Together
A big reason why Columbus has struggled over the last month was the absence of Gyasi Zardes and Will Trapp, who were away on international duty with the US Men’s National Team. Trapp’s return will be huge for the Columbus defense. Not only will he be key in protecting the backline from Nani, but the Crew is also adjusting to Joe Dendik in net after Zack Steffen’s exit.
Of course, how much of an impact Zardes can make remains to be seen. He logged heavy minutes during the Gold Cup and could be a little tired. Columbus is also playing without Federico Higuaín, who leads the team in assists despite not playing since the end of May. The Crew has managed just one goal in their last four games, scoring in a loss to Seattle last week after being on the wrong side of three straight shutouts. If Zardes doesn’t immediately get back on the score sheet, the Crew could be in a tough spot.
Gotta Get Something
Columbus isn’t set up to get a win on the road against a capable Orlando City side. But the Crew is desperate for a result, and that should allow them to hold on for a point in this game. Bet on Columbus and Orlando playing to a draw on Saturday.