ORLANDO, Fla. (Nov. 4, 2020) - Orlando City SC (11-3-8, 41 points) earned a 2-1 victory over Columbus Crew SC (11-6-5, 38 points) on Wednesday night at Exploria Stadium as the Lions remain unbeaten at home in the calendar year. With the result, the Lions have clinched a top-four finish in the standings and will host a playoff game in the 2020 Audi MLS Cup Playoffs.
Despite being reduced to 10 men in the match, Benji Michel scored the game-winner in the 84th minute of play, his fifth of the season, with Mauricio Pereyra earning his second assist of the evening. The goal took place over 30 minutes after the Lions were forced to go down a man, when Nani was shown a red card in the 52nd minute. Chris Mueller opened the scoring in the match in the 27th minute, his 10th of the season to extend his team high.
Head Coach Oscar Pareja:
“First of all, I think the first half was very good. One of the best we have had and the volume that we had and the creativity and the connections we were looking for and it was very consistent during the whole half with six or seven chances that we had. The desire to impose our game against a very good team, it was remarkable. The second half, we knew Columbus was going to come for the reactions, normally, and we found this play with Nani where obviously we disagree, totally. We’ll have the opportunity to review it, but after that I think the heart of our players came up and they showed what they have this year. A team who may not be made by the best players, but are a bunch of players that make each other better and better and I’m very proud. I’ve said it before tonight, it’s an honor for me to coach these guys and I give the credit to them. It’s nothing else. It was their heart and the three points against a very good rival at home and we secured our spot for playoffs and a home game which is another objective accomplished, so we’re good. We’re good, a lot of emotions today, but it was worth it.”
27’ Chris Mueller (Mauricio Pereyra) - ORL 1, CLB 0
The Lions took the lead with Mauricio Pereyra capitalizing on a misplayed back pass from the Columbus defense and finding Chris Mueller in the area, who took a touch before sending his shot into the far post past Crew goalkeeper Eloy Room.
56’ Harrison Afful (Pedro Santos) - OR 1, CLB 1
The visitors equalized after Pedro Santos was able to collect a loose ball in the box and lay it off to Harrison Afful, who hit his shot into the top corner of the net to level the two sides.
84’ Benji Michel (Mauricio Pereyra) - ORL 2, CLB 1
City regained its early lead late in the match, with Maurico Pereyra lofting a ball up to Benji Michel at the edge of the area. The Homegrown headed it up before spinning around his defender into the area and chesting the ball down before slotting his shot under the legs of Room for the finish.
- With the result, the Lions have secured a top-four finish in the Eastern Conference and will host at least one match in the 2020 Audi MLS Cup Playoffs at Exploria Stadium.
- Benji Michel scored his fifth goal of the season on the night and his second game-winner of the calendar year. Michel scored his first professional goal against Columbus over a year ago in a 1-0 win on July 13, a goal that was scored at the same minute mark as Wednesday evening’s.
- Chris Mueller extended his team lead in goals on the year, scoring his 10th of the campaign in the match.
- Mauricio Pereyra passed Mueller for the team lead in assists in the match, registering his seventh and eighth of the year, respectively. This marked the second multi-assist performance of the year for Pereyra, the first coming on Aug. 26 against Nashville SC.
- The Lions were reduced to 10 men for just the second time this year after Nani was shown a red card in the 52nd minute of play.
- Head Coach Oscar Pareja made four changes to his starting XI from Sunday’s win at Montreal, with Chris Mueller, Nani, Júnior Urso and Ruan all re-entering the starting lineup on the night.
Next Match: The Lions close out the 2020 MLS Regular Season on Sunday, Nov. 8, hosting Nashville SC at Exploria Stadium with kickoff set for 3:30 p.m. ET.
ORL - Chris Mueller (Mauricio Pereyra) 27’
CLB - Harrison Afful (Pedro Santos) 56’
ORL - Benji Michel (Mauricio Pereyra) 84’
ORL - Nani (Red Card) 52’
ORL - Robin Jansson (Yellow Card) 56’
ORL - Mauricio Pereyra (Yellow Card) 64’
CLB - Pedro Santos (Yellow Card) 81’
ORL - Pedro Gallese (Yellow Card) 90+4’
Orlando City SC - GK Pedro Gallese; D Kyle Smith, Robin Jansson, Antonio Carlos, Ruan; M Mauricio Pereyra (Joey DeZart 88’), Júnior Urso (Rodrigo Schlegel 88’), Andrés Perea, Chris Mueller (Sebastián Méndez 57’); F Nani ©, Tesho Akindele (Benji Michel 70’)
Substitutes Not Used: GK Brian Rowe; D Alex De John, Kamal Miller; F Matheus Aiás, Alexander Alvarado
Columbus Crew SC - GK Eloy Room; D Waylon Francis, Aboubacar Keita, Jonathan Mensah ©, Harrison Afful; M Artur, Darlington Nagbe (Aidan Morris 69’), Pedro Santos, Lucas Zelarayán (Youness Mokhtar 69’), Luis Díaz (Derrick Etienne Jr. 59’); F Gyasi Zardes (Krisztián Németh 78’)
Substitutes Not Used: GK Andrew Tarbell; D Chris Cadden, Milton Valenzuela, Josh Williams; M Emmanuel Boateng
Details of the Game:
Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
Date: November 4, 2020
ORL - 49.3%
CLB - 50.7%
ORL - 13
CLB - 11
ORL - 3
CLB - 2
ORL - 12
CLB - 16
ORL - 7
CLB - 1
Heineken Star of the Match: Mauricio Pereyra