Toronto FC vs Columbus Crew: Can The Reds Best Austin Celtic To Start Their Rise To The Middle Of The Pack?
Toronto FC vs Columbus Crew ~ 730pm ET ~ MAPFRE Stadium ~ TSN 1/3/4/5
Don’t panic; yet. No really, just take deep breaths and find your happy place. I know it feels like this could be that time, but even though the Supporters Shield (and a first round playoff bye) are out of reach, that red line really isn’t that far away. With the next five games against Eastern Conference teams, Toronto have an opportunity to gain ground and get their season back on track – but keep your panic button close, just in case.
General Panic Thoughts:
- Columbus are playing very well as they continue to make things difficult (not really they don’t care) for MLS and APV in their quest to relocate the team to Austin. The Crew are unbeaten in their last seven, and they haven’t conceded in their last five – fun!
- If the Crew win tonight’s game they will have beaten TFC fifteen times – remember the bad years when Columbus always seemed to have Toronto’s number? Yeah, that’s where this plays out. Joyous.
- Federico Higuain is not suspended – the league rescinded his red card, so umm…*scrambles for panic button*.
- Gyasi Zardes is apparently a goal scoring machine this season (eight goals?!) *clutches panic button*.
- The Reds are still dealing with a plethora of injuries – mostly affecting the defensive core – which likely means Michael Bradley will be part of the back three again. While he’s done quite well in that position, the team is much better when he can pull the strings at the back of the midfield. *mashes panic button*.
General Happy Thoughts:
- TFC played quite well against Mark Hinkley’s FC Dallas last week. Only some stellar keeping from Jesse Gonzalez and a maddening inability to finish prevented Toronto from winning that game.
- With the exception of Jozy Altidore, TFC have all of their attacking players available (sorry Aketxe you still haven’t convinced me) – the goals have to start going in.
- Zach Steffen is away on international duty. Steffen has been one of the big reasons that the Crew have been keeping opposing teams off of the scoreboard.
- Will Trapp is also away with the US team – his work in the midfield won’t be missed by Toronto.
- Auro has been excellent, as has Ryan Telfer – both players are capable of setting up and scoring goals, but maybe more importantly have been very good at terrorising opposition defenders.
- Tosaint Ricketts – he may not have been that influential for TFC this season (yet), but don’t forget his brace that won the match against the Crew for the Reds last year. Always dangerous in later parts of games, look for him to be brought on in the second to harrass the men in yellow.
You’ll notice I haven’t mentioned the Trillium Cup, that’s because we just don’t care about it. Also, with only two matches between the teams this year I’m assuming (honestly have no idea) that the tie breaker will be where they finish in the league. Anyway, we’re willing it to FC Cincinnati – we trust they’ll take good care of it. I’m expecting a fast game, goals and at least one VAR controversy. I am hoping to see Toronto come out much more focused and defensive minded do that this terrible trend of conceding early stops. There are some holes for TFC to exploit in the midfield and at the back, if everyone is on the same page and they stop trying for the perfect goal. Even with all of that I think I’ll stick with my prediction of a 2-1 Toronto win. Because they have to win sometime, right?