The hunt for the Audi 2021 MLS Cup Playoffs continues as Orlando City (12-8-11, 47 pts) heads up to central Ohio for their first-ever game at the brand-new Lower.com Field, home of the Columbus Crew (10-13-8, 38 pts). The game, presented by Audi, is set to kick off at 7:30 p.m. ET, with local television coverage on FOX35 PLUS and the LionNation app beginning at 7 p.m. ET. Local radio coverage will be available from 7 p.m. on Real Radio 104.1 in English and Acción 97.9 FM and 810 AM in Spanish.
Here’s everything you need to know about Columbus:
Key Transactions and Player News
Key Additions - CF Bradley Wright-Phillips (LAFC), F Kevin Molino (Minnesota United), CM Perry Kitchen (LA Galaxy), DM Liam Fraser (Toronto FC, loan), AM Alexandru Matan (Viitorul Constanta), M/D Marlon Hairston (Minnesota United), CF Erik Hurtado (CF Montreal), RB Steven Moreira (Toulouse)
Key Departures - RB Chris Cadden (Hibernian), GK Andrew Tarbell (Austin FC), CF Fanendo Adi (Minnesota United), CF Krisztián Németh (out of contract)
Player News - DP center forward Gyasi Zardes has been plagued by injuries this year, and the United States mainstay is set to miss out on Wednesday with an MCL sprain suffered on October 17 against Nashville. Zardes will miss 2-4 weeks with the injury, which could put him in jeopardy of missing not only the rest of the MLS regular season, but the USMNT November World Cup qualifiers as well.
Take a look at Columbus’ full roster here.
The Crew have hung around the fringes of the playoff race since we last saw them in early September, but a heartbreaking loss at home to the New York Red Bulls on Saturday has put their season on the brink. Columbus enters play on Wednesday five points below the playoff line with three games to go, needing to leapfrog at least four teams to earn a spot in the Eastern Conference playoff field.
Orlando City has won five straight games against Columbus going back to 2018, the Club’s longest active winning streak against any opponent. In the two sides’ first matchup this season at Exploria Stadium, Orlando went ahead 2-0 early, only to lose the lead on two quick second-half goals by Columbus. Júnior Urso would come through with the winner, though, and City held on for a 3-2 victory. The Lions are 6-5-3 overall against the Crew all-time.
Rasmussen University Fact
You would think the defending MLS Cup champions would typically at least make the postseason the following year, but major drop-offs happen more often than you’d think. Should the Crew miss the playoffs, they would be the third league champion to fall short of the postseason in the last six years, after the 2016 Portland Timbers and 2018 Toronto FC.