Crew look forward to home match vs. Orlando City
Columbus Crew SC has lost that winning feeling, not to mention the ability to score goals. They will try to remedy both situations at home on Saturday against Orlando City SC.
The Crew (8-7-6, 30 points) have a win and four shutout losses in their past five matches while being outscored 11-2. Columbus, fourth in the Eastern Conference, has been blanked in nine games, two more times in a season than any Gregg Berhalter team since he became coach in 2014.
Orlando City (7-11-1, 22 points) ended a nine-game losing streak with a 2-1 victory over visiting Toronto FC on July 14.
Any momentum gained from that result evaporated when Orlando City fell 1-0 to the Philadelphia Union in the U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal on Wednesday in Chester, Pa.
"We expected a lot more given the performance level at the weekend against Toronto, I thought that was really encouraging," Orlando City coach James O'Connor said afterward.
However, if the season holds form, Orlando could be streaking again in MLS. The Lions opened with a three-game winless streak (0-2-1), then won six straight before the skid that ended last week.
Despite their recent struggles, Orlando is only five points behind Montreal for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference in two fewer games.
The Lions are 1-1-0 in MLS play under O'Connor since he replaced Jason Kreis.
Columbus has lost two straight, most recently 2-0 at New York FC on July 14.
"We use it as motivation for this team," Crew defender Jonathan Mensah said. "We have been in a tough time or so. We have to go in with a tough mindset."
Returning to Mapfre Stadium could be a boost for the Crew. They are 6-2-3 with a plus-6 goal differential (21-15) at home, and their road record is 2-5-3 with just three goals scored and 10 allowed.
"It will be good to be home," Crew captain Wil Trapp said. "We know we have a decent opponent coming in, but it's a big game for us because results on the road haven't been what we wanted."
The last time the teams met in Columbus resulted in a 2-0 win for the Crew on April 1, 2017. The goals were scored by Justin Meram, who was traded to Orlando City in the offseason.
Meram was among several players benched by O'Connor for the Toronto match. Another was veteran goalkeeper Joe Bendik in favor of Earl Edwards Jr. for his first start of the season and second of his MLS career.
Edwards lost the shutout in the final seconds but picked up his first league win. He also made eight saves vs. Philadelphia on Wednesday.
O'Connor has not indicated a starter for Saturday.
The Crew may soon face uncertainty in goal as well. MLS All-Star and U.S. keeper Zack Steffen is pondering a $3.9 million transfer offer from English Championship team Bristol City.
Updated July 20, 2018