MLS

Orlando City v Columbus Crew: Pareja praises ever-growing Lions

By Sports Desk May 23, 2024

Oscar Pareja admires the fight Orlando City are showing as they prepare to welcome Columbus Crew to Inter & Co Stadium on Saturday.

Orlando are unbeaten in their last three matches, including a late victory over San Jose Earthquakes last weekend.

They are now within one point of the playoffs in the Eastern Conference, sitting 10th on 16 points.

Pareja praised his team for being able to hold onto results in recent weeks, but he now wants to translate that into consistent success at home.

"I see a team that is growing," Pareja said. "Their confidence is growing.

"The way we're playing is much better in terms of efficiency on the other side of the box, and we're proud. The thing that we're most happy with is seeing them try to do the right thing.

"They've got through difficult moments together. The way they fight every single game is always the same. We're more knowledgeable now that we're getting results, but I haven't seen one game where they gave up.

"Now we need to go and do it at home in front of our fans. Nothing has changed, we just haven't been very good in some home games, but we will be."

Columbus sit five points above Saturday’s opponents, having won back-to-back games against CF Montreal and the Chicago Fire.

Going into the third of their successive away matches, head coach Wilfried Nancy hailed the Crew’s spirit.

"It's true that last year I didn't like the spirit that when we were playing away - it was not the same spirit," he said.

"Now, they try to play their game home or away. This is something that for me, this is growth. This is something that has been better."

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Orlando City – Pedro Gallese

Gallese has kept clean sheets in two straight matches after Orlando managed just two in their first 11 regular season matches in 2024.

The Lions have never kept a clean sheet in three straight league matches within a single season before.

Columbus Crew – Diego Rossi

Rossi managed a goal and two assists in Columbus’ win over Chicago last Saturday. It was his sixth MLS match with at least three goal contributions (including playoffs) but his first with the Crew.

MATCH PREDICTION – DRAW

Orlando City have won just one of their first seven home matches this MLS season (three draws, three losses), with their six points won equalling the fewest they have ever recorded in their first seven home matches of a season (also in 2015).

Meanwhile, Columbus have lost only one of their last eight away matches in MLS (four wins, three draws incl. playoffs), including winning their last two in a row on the road. The Crew have not won three consecutive away matches in the league since a four-match run between August and September 2015.

Columbus knocked Orlando out of last season’s MLS Cup Playoffs with a 2-0 road win in the Conference Semifinals. That win was just the Crew’s second in their last 11 meetings with Orlando dating back to October 2018 (one draw, eight losses).

OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

Orlando City – 34.5%

Draw – 26.8%

Columbus Crew – 38.7%

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