Columbus Crew SC Unbeaten Run Extends to Nine After 1-0 Win in Orlando

Columbus Crew SC continues to play inspired soccer at the right time of year.

Buoyed by an Ola Kamara second half goal, the Black and Gold upended Orlando City SC 1-0 in front of 25,166 on Sunday. It gave the club its 16th win of the season which is the second most in club history behind the 2008 championship season. It also extends the team’s unbeaten streak to nine games.

Columbus Crew SC Unbeaten Run Extends to Nine After 1-0 Win in Orlando

Gregg Berhalter made no changes to the starting XI from the club’s previous outing, a 2-0 win over D.C. United. Of particular note was Artur getting his second straight start in defensive midfield alongside Wil Trapp. The 21-year-old replaced Mohammed Abu in the box-to-box role after he started the previous six games.

Sunday’s match served as a farewell of sorts for Artur’s countryman Kaka. The Brazilian legend announced earlier in the week that he would not return to Orlando City for the 2018 season. With the club on the road next week, it meant that this game marked his last in Orlando. That reality seemed to hit him rather poignantly as he was visibly emotional during the pre-game ceremonies.

The first half saw both sides trade legitimate opportunities around their opponent’s net. In the 14th minute, Justin Meram combined well with Kamara and found himself with the ball in front of net, but hit the shot wide left. Meanwhile, Kaka nearly gave the home side a lead with a set piece shot from just outside the box that sailed slightly over the cross bar.

For Columbus, quality service from wide areas appeared to be lacking during the first 45. On multiple occasions, the Black and Gold attempted to utilize the flanks to create chances at net. And despite two shots on goal compared to Orlando’s none in the first half, the final product didn’t materialize in terms of being able to beat goalkeeper Joe Bendik.

That all changed just over 20 minutes into the second stanza. Federico Higuain slotted a diagonal ball towards an overlapping Hector Jimenez who settled the ball and centered it from the left hand side. That pass found Kamara who made no mistake in putting the ball away for his 17th goal of the season.

Kamara’s tally came as a welcome gift on his 28th birthday. It also reinforced how important he’s been to this club’s fortunes since signing last year. With Sunday’s score against the Lions, the Norwegian center forward exceeded his goal total from last season. And Higuain continued his blazing hot form as a provider with his seventh assist in the last six games.

The result gives Columbus its fourth win over Orlando in eight all-time regular season meetings between the clubs. Overall, they boast a 4-1-3 record that includes going 2-0-1 in 2017. The club remains fifth in the Eastern Conference which would mean a road trip in the knockout round of the MLS Cup Playoffs if that positioning holds.

Crew SC returns to action a week from today when they face New York City FC in the regular season finale. The game isn’t taking place at Yankee Stadium due to the New York Yankees making the ALCS. Instead, Citi Field will play host to the fixture with kickoff taking place at 4 PM ET.

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