They did it in very different ways, but the Columbus Crew and Orlando City SC both made it through the Round One Best-of-3 matchups in the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs.
Now, they’ll be squaring off in Central Florida in a single-elimination match with a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals on the line.
This one is viewed as an incredibly even matchup, as both teams really put in an excellent regular season.
Columbus made full use of its home-field advantage in the first round, winning both contests at home while losing on the road, so it will be fascinating to see how they’ll fare without that edge.
This is Will Schwartz from The Game Day, with coverage and predictions for this top-tier Eastern Conference Semifinal matchup. With history on the line, especially for Orlando, don’t miss what figures to be a true spectacle of a game on Saturday, Nov. 25 at 5:30 pm EST.
Orlando City SC vs. Columbus Crew Odds
MLS lines used for Orlando City vs. Columbus were current as of Nov. 17 at 1:30 am EST on FanDuel Sportsbook.
- Moneyline: Orlando City (+115) • Draw (+240) • Columbus (+195)
- Total Goals: Over 2.5 (-162) • Under 2.5 (+132)
- Both Teams to Score: Yes (-192) • No (+150)
Vegas sees this matchup as incredibly close, with all sides of the three-way moneyline in plus-odds.
Still, Orlando are seen as a favorite to a degree, but one thing is for sure: There should be plenty of goals in this one, with the over a serious favorite on the total and “yes” with very favorable odds for the “both teams to score” prop.
Orlando City SC vs. Columbus Crew Prediction
Columbus Crew 4-2 Orlando City SC
If the regular season matchups between these two sides were any remote indication, we are in for an absolute classic this time out. In May, the two squads fought to a gripping 2-2 draw in Columbus, while Orlando won a 4-3 thriller at home more recently in September.
Clearly, the two sides are very close, and even more clearly, there is potential for many goals to be scored in this one.
While these two teams were very close this season in terms of both their head-to-head matchups and the table – Orlando finished in second with six more points than Columbus, while the Crew had a better goal-scoring differential by a margin of five – their histories are quite different.
Orlando are a relatively new club, joining MLS in 2015, and they’ve never lifted the MLS Cup, while Columbus are one of the league's original clubs and won the title in 2008 and 2020.
They also got here in very different ways; Orlando swept their way through the first round, although, in a way, it was nervier than Columbus’s path.
The former won both of their games against Nashville SC by a score of 1-0, impressively keeping a clean sheet throughout the entire series, while the Crew went to three games, but won by an aggregate score of 8-6. Their victories were each by a margin of two goals, so Columbus will hope their lone defeat was an outlier and not a product of playing on the road.
The opening-round scorelines in both series were no fluke; Columbus were an absolute scoring juggernaut in the regular season, as they ripped in an MLS-high 67 goals and faced an Atlanta team that was right behind with 66.
The Crew also were mediocre on defense, while Orlando were quite the opposite; they were around the middle of the pack with 55 goals scored, but their 39 goals allowed had them tied for the second-fewest in the Eastern Conference.
While the Columbus attack has been prolific, it’s not exactly an egalitarian unit; striker Cucho Hernández led the team in goals this year with a whopping 16, while Christian Ramirez scored eight, ahead of two more players with four.
Hernández also tied with Romanian midfielder Alexandru Matan with 11 league assists, capping off a very impressive campaign. Diego Rossi also had a great first round, with an assist in each game and even a goal in the clincher.
Orlando’s top contributors have probably been young goalscorer Facundo Torres and versatile midfielder Cesar Araujo. Still, they’re more of a cohesive “greater than a sum of their parts” team than a unit studded with superstar talent.
This is Columbus’ first playoff berth since that 2020 title, as they missed out in both 2021 and 2022, while Orlando have made the playoffs each year since their first-ever appearance in 2020, though they’ve been a first-round exit each of the past two years. So, both teams are already a step beyond last year’s showing, but they’ll want more.
Ultimately, Columbus will be the side to earn just that; their attacking firepower will be enough to send them through to at least one more round, where they’d meet either top-seeded Cincinnati for an all-Ohio matchup or a fascinating Philly team with a spot in the MLS Cup Final on the line.
Orlando City SC vs. Columbus Crew Best Bets
Over 2.5 Goals (-162) • FanDuel Sportsbook
Yes, there’s some juice here, but it’s still the only appropriate play. Consider tossing it in a parlay or even finding an alternate line of 3.5 and hitting the over at more favorable odds; Columbus’ attack will not be stopped, and their defense will not be doing much stopping.
If there’s anything that will keep this team from earning the MLS Cup, it would be their back line, and I’m not projecting this match to be the one where they pay, but it could certainly still be a long day in that stadium.
Of course, this number continuously hit easily in the first round for Columbus, but things were a bit different for Orlando.
That said, they were playing a much more defensively-oriented Nashville team, and with the very open play style that Columbus tends to embody, the goals should flow much more freely this time around.
Columbus Crew Moneyline (+195) • FanDuel Sportsbook
This is a phenomenal value on the team that should walk away with a win. With a goal differential of +21, the Crew were the best side in either conference this year by that metric.
They led the league in traditional metrics such as goals per match and possession and more modern statistics such as expected goals and FotMob rating.
Yes, Orlando’s defense will be far better than the Atlanta one Columbus demolished in Round One, but they’ve ripped up some great defenses before, including this one.
The matchup on paper suggests Columbus can hang goals on this defense, and with real-life results backing up that same notion, I feel phenomenal about this pick.