A place in the MLS Eastern Conference Finals is on the line Saturday when Orlando City SC hosts the Columbus Crew in what could be an epic showdown.
If you’re a fan of goals and action at both ends, then the two regular season clashes between Orlando and Columbus were appointment television. Both fixtures featured three or more goals, with Orlando winning the first meeting at home before drawing 2-2 away.
Orlando City hasn’t conceded a goal in five of their last six matches, but that defense will be tested by a Columbus attack that led the league in goals scored. But Orlando will be buoyed by the fact they’ve gone 14 matches at home without defeat.
Which side will be able to impose their will, and how should you attack the MLS odds betting markets? We discuss that in our MLS picks and predictions for Orlando City vs Columbus Crew on Saturday, November 25.
Orlando City FC vs Columbus Crew best odds
Orlando City FC vs Columbus Crew picks and predictions
At a glance, Orlando City FC’s defensive record of late is quite impressive. Anytime you concede just two goals over six, with five clean sheets kept, it’s worth respecting.
But a deeper analysis brings a caveat to the discussion. Three of those clean sheets were kept against Nashville, whose 39 goals scored this season were the sixth-fewest in the entire league. The other two were a home win over CF Montreal—who managed just 10 away goals in 17 matches—and a victory at Toronto, the league’s worst team in 2023.
The outlier in that span was a 3-2 win over New England at home. Orlando jumped out to a 3-1 lead at halftime and conceded in stoppage time. That result came just a few weeks after Orlando’s aforementioned 4-3 win at home over Columbus, which was another shootout.
In fact, it was one of the biggest matches of the season and it required an epic comeback by the hosts. Columbus led 1-0 at the half and 3-0 after 70 minutes. But Orlando would get a goal from Facundo Torres shortly thereafter, setting up a finish that saw Ramiro Enrique score on 86 minutes and 97 minutes to steal the win.
When the two sides first got together in May, it was a similar story. Columbus scored two goals in the final six minutes of the first half, but they were unable to hold onto the lead. Yet again, Orlando found a goal in stoppage time as Duncan McGuire’s 92nd-minute tally secured a share of the spoils for Orlando.
The Crew have had their struggles at times on the road this season. But they finished with the fifth-highest away point total in the East, and their 26 goals scored on the road were tops in the league. But they also allowed 32 goals against, the eighth-most in MLS.
Orlando conceded more than a goal per match at home in league play, keeping just seven clean sheets. Three of those came against the teams we discussed earlier. Columbus has too many weapons to expect Orlando to once again keep their goal unsullied.
On the other side, the Crew have walked away from a road fixture with a clean sheet just three times this season. And in their one road fixture in the last round of the playoffs, they lost 4-2 at Atlanta.
I expect the same type of match here. Back both teams to score with three or more goals before the final whistle blows. The combo play at TonyBet is priced at -117, providing good value given the Over 2.5 is heavily juiced and both teams to score is priced at close to -200.
My best bet: Over 2.5 goals + Both teams to score — Yes (-117 at TonyBet)
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Orlando City FC vs Columbus Crew same-game parlay
Our same-game parlay at FanDuel sees us adding two additional plays to our combo play from the best bet.
Juan “Cucho” Hernandez has been a force for Columbus, and he’s never seen a shot he didn’t like. In fact, he took six shots in the 4-2 win over Atlanta, the only one of the three matches in that round where he didn’t score.
Hernandez has five goals in his last five matches, and he’s attempted a staggering 60 shots over his last eight matches. He attempted three in the loss at Orlando, and nine in the 2-2 draw earlier this season.
We’re going to back him to score a goal, as well as attempt at least five shots. Columbus will have to pour on the pressure if they fall behind, and he will be the focal point of that barrage.
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Orlando City FC vs Columbus Crew side and Over/Under analysis
The 3-way moneyline sees Orlando favored at plus-odds, with as high as +120 on offer. Columbus is second choice at close to +200 with the draw coming in last at a price up to +265.
Both teams come into this game with pretty much their entire first squads available. Columbus has won just three times in their last 11 away fixtures in league play, with two of those victories coming against non-playoff teams. On the flip side, Orlando’s won seven of their last eight at home, and are unbeaten in 14 straight at home.
I’m backing Orlando to advance, but it could take extra time for them to do so. That’s why I’m staying away from the regulation result.
As for the total, you’ll have to lay serious juice for the typical 2.5 Over. The best price out there is -145, with the Under giving about +125.
But I’d look at the Asian total of 3.0 instead. You can get that Over at plus-odds, and I love the ability to push if it’s a 2-1 or 3-0 final score.
These two teams have faced each other six times since 2020, and just once have they failed to reach three goals. With what’s at stake and how they play, I don’t see that trend stopping here.
Orlando City FC vs Columbus Crew game info
|Exploria Stadium, Orlando, FL
|Saturday, November 25, 2023
|5:30 p.m. ET
|70f, POP: 40%,
Orlando City FC vs Columbus Crew key injuries
Orlando City FC: Jack Lynn F (Out).
Columbus Crew: Will Sands D (Out).
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