An impressive 5-2 win at home gives Orlando City SC 3 desperately needed points against Columbus Crew SC and chips away at the -5 goal difference hindering them from playoff contention in the Eastern conference. Goals from Cyle Larin, Darwin Ceren, Aurelien Collin and Cristian Higuita make for an especially entertaining night for the 26,586 fans at the Orlando Citrus Bowl on Saturday night.
Orlando appeared slow to start, as if affected by the severe humidity, and were made to pay for their sluggishness when Columbus got on the board quick thanks to a goal from Federico Higuain in the 5th minute. However, Orlando quickly found their footing and were able to equalize in the 17th minute with Larin scoring first for the Lions.
Ceren gave Orlando the lead, after some impressive team play in Columbus’ half. The Lion’s midfield put enough pressure on the Crew and comfortably searched for their second goal of the evening and continued to pressure Columbus the rest of the game. The teams entered halftime 1-2 splitting possession pretty evenly, however Orlando dominated the shots on goal statistic forcing some pretty impressive saves from Columbus’ Steve Clark.
The chemistry between Kaká and Luke Bowden are the main reason the goals kept flowing on Saturday night, the two really found their rhythm with Kaká feeling comfortable enough to play forward alongside Larin.
Speaking of Larin, the Canadian has officially tied the record for most goals scored in a player’s rookie season with 11 goals and shows no signs of stopping anytime soon. His late-game substitution is undoubtedly an attempt to keep him healthy, as well as give his substitute, Bryan Rochez, some playing time.
Orlando chipped away at their goal difference, finishing at -2 after scoring three goals in the second half. Columbus seemed incapable of containing the Lion’s attacks, despite finishing with 55% of the possession and were solid on defense containing Orlando’s 8 shots on goal. The Crew’s second goal was an Orlando own goal, after Collin misdirected a header while defending an attack just before entering stoppage time.
As MLS enters the second half of the season, Orlando seems to be finding a good form despite the various injuries plaguing the bench. With several players expected to return before the end of the season there are plenty of points left to pick-up for the Lions and should have no problems finding themselves back in playoff contention.
When asked if he considered this win a “statement win” head coach Adrian Heath said no, saying instead, “this stops the rot.”