Crew 2’s youth shines in a 4-0 victory vs. Orlando City B

The Columbus Crew 2 hosted Orlando City B on Saturday afternoon at Historic Crew Stadium. The two teams came into the match even on points, with Crew 2 having a game in hand. Victory went to the home team as the Black & Gold buried Orlando 4-0 with an avalanche of goals in the second half. 

The first half was dominated by Columbus, who took nine shots, two on target, four blocked, and had seven corner kicks. OCB had an advantage in possession as Crew 2 only had 42 percent of the ball in the first half. Even though they ceded possession, the Black & Gold looked far more dangerous. 

In the sixth minute, the Capybaras had a big chance when defender Abdi Mohamed got room on the right flank and put a cross into the six-yard box. Forward Mateo Bunbery cut in front of his defender but could not get a foot to the ball and it rolled harmlessly away. 

As the half wore on, Columbus piled on the corner kicks with center back Jacob Erlandson being the clear target. The Dayton native was able to get onto one attempt late in the half but directed it just wide of the net. 

In first half stoppage time, attacker Marco Micaletto got on the end of pass into the box but his one time shot was right at Bunbery. Luck was not on the side of Columbus in the first half, but solid defending and consistent offensive pressure kept Orlando far from Brady Scott who only saw one shot on goal.

Gio De Libera, a Crew  Academy player, scored his first goal of the season. With a crowd of players in front of goal, Cole Mrowka found De Libera open to his left. The young midfielder made no mistake and slotted the ball home to start the scoring. Mrowka also is a Crew Academy loanee.

Orlando started to find their feet after the goal, but were unable to find the back of the net. Jack Lynn, one of the top goal scorers last season, substituted in for the Lions but two huge defensive plays kept him off the score sheet. Lynn hesitated a moment too long and Erlandson came in with a huge sliding save in the 59th minute and Jordan Knight had a goal line clearance in the 63rd minute.  

In the 65th minute Di Libera dribbled the ball from his defensive third all the way down the field, unchallenged, and found Bunbury unmarked in the box. The forward confidently struck the ball past the keeper and the Crew 2 were up another goal.

Clay Holstad entered the pitch in the 74th minute only to thunder a header into goal off a Gibran Rayo cross. Noah Fuson found his way around an Orlando defender and played Rayo forward. Unable to find a good shot, Rayo crossed the ball into a towering Holstad who powered the ball into the net to put Crew 2 up a third goal.

The final goal came in the 87th minute when Ariel Mbumba was played into space down the left side. Mbumba was behind his defender, but his fresh legs and hustle won the ball and he found a streaking Rayo unmarked in the middle of the field.

In the dying moments of the game Coleman Gannon won a penalty kick after the Orlando keeper saved a shot from Rayo. The penalty was then saved and the scoreline remained at four to zero, where it would end.

What did we learn?

This team is for real. The four players that scored for Crew 2 were all not on the roster last season. The front office has done a great job at reloading this team after a couple standouts signed first team contracts. 

Even with the team playing multiple Crew Academy players, some under the age of 17, the Capybaras still dominate their opponents. The first goal came from Mrowka playing in De Libera behind the defenders, both academy products. The next goal came from Di Libera finding Bunbury in a similar position.

Bunbury, De Libera, and Mrowka are all on season long loans. Bunbury is on loan from USL side Birmingham Legion FC. If these players all continue to perform at the level they showed in this match, it would be easy to see all these loans become contracts. The future looks bright for the young Crew players. 

Erlandson is the anchor for Crew 2’s center backs and his return to the starting lineup allowed the team to play with more freedom. Erlandson fractured his skull against the New York Red Bulls and he wore a face mask to be able to play in this match. 

Crew 2 have made Historic Crew Stadium a fortress but do not play at home again until June 4th.

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