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In front of 30,218 fans, Orlando City crashed to a 4-1 home defeat to the bottom team in the MLS Eastern Conference in a must win game this evening.
An horrendous first half saw the visitors take the home side apart to go into the break 3-0 up. In truth, it could have been 4, 5 or 6 such was the dominance of supposedly the worst team in MLS before the night began.
Columbus grabbed an early lead in the sixth minute when they cut through the heart of the vacant Orlando defence. Defender Michael Parkhurst, on the edge of his own box, found Justin Meram in center midfield and he played a delightful defense splitting pass to Ola Kamara who strolled in on goal before feeding Ethan Finlay to tap into the empty net.
Kaká (pictured above) threatened to pull the Lions level in the 12th minute making a run from the left hand wing across the face of the penalty box before firing a shot inches wide of the right hand upright. An own goal in the 22nd minute made it 2-0 after a Columbus corner angled off the head of Lions defender Seb Hines to leave Joe Bendik stranded. As the first half came to a close, Finlay reciprocated for Kamara, feeding him the ball for tap in that sent a shell shocked Orlando City into the locker room 3-0 down.
It was a lead the visitors fully deserved and it would have been worse had Dilly Duka, Finlay and Kamara, taken other chances during the opening period.
The second half was marginally better as the men in purple showed some professional pride to grab a goal back through a Cyle Larin (pictured above) strike in the 79th minute. It was Larin’s 14th goal of the season and came after some good work by Servando Carrasco who stopped a Columbus clearance and neatly passed up to Larin. The young Canadian turned smartly and fired a right-footed shot that flew past Columbus goalkeeper Steve Clark into the right hand corner of the net.
With Orlando pressing high up the field, it was no surprise when Columbus grabbed a fourth goal in the dying seconds of added time when Kamara combined with Finlay once more to score the final goal of the night, bringing him to a season tally of 13.
Worryingly, the Lions have now conceded four goals in each of their last two matches, starting with Sunday’s 4-2 away defeat to the Los Angeles Galaxy and after the game Lions Head Coach Jason Kreis (pictured above) said: “I was hopeful for a completely different effort and result tonight but didn’t get it. Now it’s important to see how we react and what we can do for next week. I actually don’t think it was much to do with the back four. I just think it was how we positioned ourselves. There was a lot more urgency about trying to get the ball back quickly. We put them under a lot of pressure and I don’t think that we allowed them to play out of their half. In the first half I felt that we were 80 percent pressing and 80 percent pressing is actually the worst place you want to be in. If you’re going to press 80 percent you probably just want to sit back and stay compact. But because we kind of made an effort to press meant that we were very stretched out and a lot of holes for guys like [Justin] Meram and [Dilly] Duka to find and turn and look at our back four and then we have problems because then they’re making forward runs against our back four who’s either sideways or having to turn to chase.”
Orlando now drops down to 8th place in the MLS Eastern Conference with 34 points, two points off the final play off position. The Lions head to Washington, D.C. for a critical match against D.C. United on Sunday, Sept. 24. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. ET. City then visits Toronto FC on Wednesday, Sept. 28 before returning to Camping World Stadium to host the Montreal Impact on Sunday, Oct. 2. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. ET.
Orlando City SC – GK Joe Bendik, D Luke Boden (Mikey Ambrose 46’), Tommy Redding, Seb Hines, Kevin Alston, M Tony Rocha (Carlos Rivas 46’), Servando Carrasco, Matías Pérez García (Brek Shea 68’), Kevin Molino, F Kaká, Cyle Larin
Substitutes Not Used: GK Earl Edwards Jr., D Rafael Ramos, M Pedro Ribeiro, F Júlio Baptista
Columbus Crew SC – GK Steve Clark, D Hector Jimenez (Corey Ashe 77’), Gaston Sauro, Michael Parkhurst, Harrison Afful, M Mohammed Saeid, Nicolai Naess (Rodrigo Saravia 93’) Dilly Duka (Adam Jahn 68’), Ethan Finlay, Justin Meram, F Ola Kamara
Substitutes Not Used: GK Brad Stuver, D Chad Barson, Waylon Francis, Cristian Martinez
More photos at FloridaLeisurePhotography.com