Orlando City SC 2, Columbus Crew SC 1 | 2018 MLS Match Recap
The first half was evenly matched — including in yellow cards, with the one per side making for some of the testiest moments of the half. In the 33rd minute, Jonathan Mensah caught Dom Dwyer, and several minutes later, Dwyer ran into Mensah to draw his own warning. Though the fouls ramped up the intensity on both sides, the goalkeepers held their clean sheets into halftime.
Less than nine minutes into the second half, Federico Higuain converted a free kick opportunity for his sixth goal of the season. That lead wouldn't last long, though. A Gaston Sauro handball in the box led to Yoshi Yotun getting a chance to equalize less than three minutes later — Yotun delivered via a cheeky panenka. After an up-and-down final third of the match, a stoppage time penalty drawn by sub Chris Mueller, attributed to Wil Trapp, allowed Kljestan to step to the spot and give the Lions the extremely late game winner.
- 54' – CLB – Federico Higuain | WATCH
- 57' – ORL – Yoshi Yotun (PK) | WATCH
- 90' + 6'– ORL – Sacha Kljestan (PK) | WATCH
- THE BIG PICTURE: It was an easy scenario for Columbus: Beat a team that's found wins hard to come by in the second half of the season, and make it to the playoffs. While Crew SC still have their destiny in their hands — a win gets them past the Impact no matter what the Impact do next week — they're leaving the playoff question to their final game, which certainly wasn't the hope going into today. It was also a game in which Justin Meram, who returned to Columbus from Orlando earlier this year, was conspicuously absent, for what apparently was a prearranged reason:
Berhalter told me there was an arrangement in the Orlando -#CrewSC trade in August that prevented Justin Meram from playing in this game. Berhalter said Meram "desperately" wanted to play. "We had to live with it. We honored our agreement."— Andrew Erickson (@AEricksonCD) October 21, 2018
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: The late penalty and subsequent conversion left Orlando on the positive side of a game that was playing out to an arguably deserved draw.
- MAN OF THE MATCH: Though Kljestan could have made things far easier for Orlando on an earlier goal opportunity, he was consistent in the Lions' attack, and gave them the veteran presence they needed at the moment where it mattered most.