The 2023 MLS Cup Playoffs return as Orlando City SC host the Columbus Crew at Exploria Stadium in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

Orlando swept Nashville in their best-of-three first-round series with a pair of 1-0 wins as Wilder Cartagena scored the only goal of Game 1 and Ivan Angulo struck early in Game 2 to run the Lions' winning streak to six games.

Columbus needed the full three games to dispatch Atlanta, winning Game 1 by a 2-0 score before dropping Game 2 4-2 and winning the decisive Game 3 by that same 4-2 scoreline.

The winner of this match will advance to next Saturday's Eastern Conference final against either top-seed FC Cincinnati or the defending Eastern Conference champion Philadelphia Union.

Team news

Orlando City SC

Favian Loyola (left arm) and Jack Lynn (left thigh) have both been ruled out.

Manager Oscar Pareja is expected to name the same starting XI as he did in both games against Nashville.

Columbus Crew

Will Sands is the only absentee for the Crew as the defender will miss out through a knee injury.

Midfielder Darlington Nagbe has signed a multiyear contract extension that will keep him with the club through 2025 with a club option for 2026.

Predicted lineups

Orlando City SC: Gallese; Santos, Jansson, Schlegel, Þór­halls­son; Cartagena, Araújo; Angulo, Pereyra, Torres; McGuire

Columbus Crew: Schulte; Amundsen, Camacho, Moreira; Yeboah, Morris, Nagbe, Farsi; Mățan, Rossi; Hernández

Ones to watch

Facundo Torres (Orlando City SC)

Although he was quiet against Nashville, not scoring in either game, he remains one of the Lions' biggest goal-scoring threats and with the emergence of McGuire, will have more room to operate, especially against a Columbus side that plays a wide-open style.

Photo: Jason Mowry/Iconsportswire via Getty Images
Photo: Jason Mowry/Iconsportswire via Getty Images

Cucho Hernandez (Columbus Crew)

The Colombian frontman had an outstanding 2023 with 16 goals and seven assists and continued his hot form against Atlanta, scoring twice in Columbus' Game 1 victory and adding another in Game 2.

Photo: Graham Stokes/Iconsportswire via Getty Images
Photo: Graham Stokes/Iconsportswire via Getty Images

With the presence of Rossi, a known goal-scoring threat to take some of the defensive attention away from the man they call "Cucho", expect him to be a major factor in this match.

Previous meetings

On May 13, Orlando battled back from a two-goal deficit to earn a point in a 2-2 draw.

Nagbe tapped home to give Columbus a 39th-minute lead and Jacen Russell-Rowe extended the advantage, scoring in the second minute of first-half stoppage time.

The Lions battled back as Ercan Kara scored four minutes into the second half and Duncan McGuire made it 2-2, smashing his shot off of goalkeeper Patrick Schulte in the 92nd minute.

September 16 saw perhaps the game of the year in MLS, Orlando snatching a stunning 4-3 victory. 

Julian Gressel's 16th-minute tap-in put the Crew in front but a slick passing sequence was finished by Martin Ojeda three minutes into the second half.

Columbus seemed to take control through goals from Diego Rossi, his 50th in the league and Cucho Hernandez to put the Ohio outfit up 3-1.

Facundo Torres made it a 3-2 game before Roman Enrique scored his first MLS goal by slotting past Schulte to level with four minutes to go.

In a final plot twist, Torres' header back across the box found Enrique and the U-22 Initiative player made no mistake to sweep home a superb winner.

How to watch

The match will be streamed nationally on Apple TV + with Keith Costigan serving as the play-by-play announcer and Maurice Edu as analyst.

Kickoff is set for 5:30pm Eastern time.

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