Opportunity missed: Columbus, Orlando create more drama for Decision Day showdown

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The Columbus Crew and Orlando City SC are set for a thrilling Decision Day showdown at Exploria Stadium this Sunday (2:30 pm ET | FS1, FOX Deportes). Put simply, after shortcomings Wednesday night, Audi 2022 MLS Cup Playoffs hopes for both Eastern Conference clubs hang in the balance.

Columbus saw another lead vanish in a 2-2 draw at Charlotte FC, a match that resumed from the 16th minute after being postponed by weather on July 30. Later, Orlando were on the wrong end of a 4-1 Florida Derby scoreline at Inter Miami CF, sending the Herons to the postseason.

Now, following their respective make-up game misfires, Columbus are seventh in the East (46 points) and Orlando are eighth in the East (45 points). With sixth-place FC Cincinnati (46 points) simultaneously visiting long-eliminated D.C. United on Sunday, pressure is escalating for the East's two remaining playoff spots.

Crew head coach Caleb Porter believes his team still can punch their ticket after missing the field altogether in 2021.

"Obviously, result-wise, it's not what we wanted," Porter said. "It's not a win, it's a draw, but it still gives us a chance, depending on other results, to win our last game and get in the playoffs. Even if we won this game, we were probably in a same situation where we had to win the last game or possibly get a draw."

The MLS Cup 2020 champions couldn't turn Lucas Zelarayan's audacious free kick from 56.1 yards out into three points, nor Luis Diaz's insurance goal after halftime. And, per Opta, Andre Shinyashiki's 94th-minute equalizer for Charlotte means the Crew have now dropped an all-time MLS record number of points (11) in the 90th minute or later this season.

Columbus midfielder Darlington Nagbe believes if their offense can keep producing, a playoff return awaits.

"We got two goals on the road, so go down there and do the same," said the 2022 MLS All-Star. "Just [need to] close the game out."

Meanwhile, Orlando's latest defeat – they've lost four of their last five matches – saw them drop below the playoff line ahead of what's been deemed a "final" by head coach Oscar Pareja. His comments came after Miami's strikers stole the show – Gonzalo Higuain's brace pushed him to 14g/2a in Miami's last 15 games, while Leo Campana scored a wondrous chip 35 seconds in – at DRV PNK Stadium.

"The confidence that the boys had in\] themselves and the memories that they had of many, many things they have achieved together, that would be enough just to change that energy," said Pareja, referencing his team's [US Open Cup title haul at Exploria Stadium a month ago. "But to change this moment, [it's] by working, by preparing, and that's exactly what we will do."

Orlando midfielder Junior Urso struck an inspired tone when discussing the possibility of clinching a playoff bid on home soil, calling on the team's fans to show up in force on Sunday and help "push" them to a win.

"We have to put the team in the playoffs," he said. "This is my third year over here, and we did [it] two times. Let's try to do [it] again. ... We know we never hunt alone [because] we have our fans."