Orlando City SC beats Columbus Crew 2-0 at home

At the beginning of Saturday night, the Columbus Crew had increased the pressure to get a result after back-to-back losses. Off the field, Columbus celebrated youth soccer night with commemorative photos from members of the Black & Gold. On the field, head coach Caleb Porter’s side were hoping to pull off a throwback performance in the season opener with a 4-0 win in their only clean sheet of the season. Instead it was the other way around. Orlando City entered the Lower.com field and left with a 2-0 win, even without Orlando’s leading scorer, winger Alexandre Pato

Columbus started with the front foot. After Orlando defender Antonio Carlos was injured, Columbus overloaded the right side of the field. That put winger Yaw Yeboah in the spotlight. For most of the first-half attacks, it was Yeboah who either advanced the game or submitted the final pass.

Yeboah’s tenure at Black & Gold is still new, playing in his seventh game for the club. This freshness sometimes showed itself. On two occasions midfielder Lucas Zelarayán was supposed to pass Yeboah forward to get behind the defence, but Yeboah didn’t expect the move and turned the ball around.

There were promises for the bad moments of miscommunication. Yeboah broke through the defensive line, but the final pass or shot from his pass always hit the body of an Orlando defender.

Black & Gold’s best chance came in the 32nd minutend Minute. Defender Kyle Smith fouled Zelarayán two or three feet from the corner of the box. At this point, the Argentine could have crossed or shot. Zelarayán opted for a shot that hit the top of the bar.

With all the deflected chances for the black and gold, it was not enough to break through. Then Orlando made Columbus pay for a known enemy: a set piece.

On a side pass, Mauricio Pereyra sends a big curve pass into the 18-yard box. Júnior Urso sent the pass over the goal for a waiting defender Rodrigo Schlegel who scored the first goal of the game.

The first half of Saturday’s matchup felt very similar to the last four halves of football that Crew supporters watched. Columbus won the possession battle with 57.2% and had eight shots on goal but none on target. Of Orlando’s four shots, two were on target and one on the net.

The start of the second half didn’t get any better. With Columbus keen on the comeback, they sent numbers up front and gave defense a bigger job. In the 51stSt Minute, as the game progressed, new Orlando forward Ercan Kara added a second for the visitors.

Kara received a pass into the box but initially sent it to Facundo Torres. In a streak that lasted a few seconds, Kara spun the ball and shot past defenders Miloš Degenek and Eloy Room.

Now two goals behind, the crew turned up the heat. Eight minutes later, head coach Caleb Porter made a treble substitution. Wingers Derrick Etienne Jr., Yaw Yeboah and defender Degenek all came on for striker Gyasi Zardes, midfielder James Igbekeme and the first regular minutes of the season for centre-back Josh Williams.

This shifted the squad to four defenders, four in midfield and forwards Zardes and Miguel Berry up front. The crew sent pass after pass but couldn’t break through. All the while, Orlando sat back and took seconds to set up goal kicks and set pieces with fouls and overtime.

While Columbus had intensity, they were missing a lot of shots on goal. After Orlando took a two-goal lead, Columbus was down to two on goal. The crew exits the match with another match that raises questions about what Columbus can do to turn the ship around.

Shy shooting continues

For the third game in a row, Columbus missed shooting. While part of the blame lies with a second team being on the field to stop them, the odds of indecisiveness gave Orlando a chance to bounce back from the space they gave up and block shots.

Columbus didn’t have a shot on goal until the 48th minute and it was almost 30 minutes before the next shot on goal. Suppressed creativity in preparing shots allows opponents to sit back and force the crew to do more.

The crew ended up with only 3 shots on goal At 17 shots. Even one of the shots on target is controversial: Orlando goalkeeper Pedro Gallese snatched a shot from Zelarayán just wide of the post. While these numbers help the Crew’s offensive stats look better, they don’t help them score.

to make decisions

The crew are now 270 minutes from their last goal scored, in the dying breath of Columbus’ 1-1 draw with the New York Red Bulls on March 20. Porter’s had the advantage of a healthy squad early in the season which is the polar opposite of what he had in 2021.

On the plus side, it allows the team to keep building chemistry, but it negatively impacts the creation of a lot of new things. When Zelarayán came into play, he led the crew with 24 chances created. No other crew teammates were in double digits.

It’s time to see what other attacking-minded players can do on the field because the same doesn’t work.

Igbekeme came and gave Columbus a spark in the distribution, moving the ball around the field. Zardes also played at a high level, scoring the only shot on goal after Orlando got promoted.

What’s next

The Black & Gold don’t have much time until their next competition. On Tuesday, Columbus drives a few hours north to Detroit, Michigan. It is the crew’s first US Open Cup match since 2019 after the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the domestic tournament. Columbus meets Detroit City FC from the USL Championship, the second division of US soccer.

In terms of line-ups, there likely won’t be a similar starting XI to Porter’s on Saturday, but the extra preparation throws a wrench into the usual training week.

After their trip to Michigan, the Black & Gold are back on the road and returning to regular MLS season play. On Saturday, April 23, Columbus takes on Sporting Kansas City in the only matchup of the season.

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