Toronto FC vs. Columbus Crew SC | 2017 MLS Match Preview
Toronto FC vs. Columbus Crew SC
2017 MLS Regular Season
BMO Field – Toronto, Ontario
Friday, May 26 – 7 pm ET
WATCH: TSN1/3/4/5 in Canada, MLS LIVE in the US
After posting six straight wins to sprint to the top of the league, Toronto have come back to earth – if only just a bit – over the last few days. Down Sebastian Giovinco due to injury, TFC drew 1-1 at the New York Red Bulls last Friday, then a reserve-laden side lost the first leg of their Canadian Championship semifinal series at the Ottawa Fury on Tuesday night.
Now, the Reds will return to BMO Field for their third and final meeting of the year against Crew SC. Apart from an early three-game win streak, Columbus have been a bit up-and-down this year. They can’t quite seem to string any run of results together, and, after losing 2-1 at New England on Sunday, have alternated wins and losses in their last five matches.
The two sides have split their first two meetings this year, with Crew SC topping TFC 2-1 at MAPFRE Stadium on April 15 before Toronto won 2-1 in Ohio in a midweek match on May 10. The winner of this match will take home the Trillium Cup.
A draw and a loss in two straight road matches is far from the worst outcome in the world, but TFC haven’t exactly left either of their last two encounters feeling all that good about themselves. On Friday, a missed Jozy Altidore penalty in the 81st and a disallowed Tosaint Ricketts goal in the 88th had Toronto feeling like they could’ve gotten more out of their 1-1 draw at the Red Bulls.
Things got worse on Tuesday night, when the Reds gave up two scrappy second half goals to fall 2-1 at USL side Ottawa Fury in the first leg of the Canadian Championship semis. Head coach Greg Vanney lamented his side’s “sloppy” performance at Ottawa, and he know they’ll need to seriously clean things up against Justin Meram, Ola Kamara and a dangerous Crew SC team if they want to win this year’s Trillium Cup.
Next Wednesday’s second leg of the Canadian Championship semis could also factor in on Friday night. Toronto’s big guns sat out at Ottawa on Tuesday, but several important players – including Justin Morrow, Raheem Edwards, Benoit Cheyrou and Armando Cooper – saw extended time in the Canadian capital. Vanney will already be without one of his stars in the suspended Altidore on Friday; we’ll see if he chooses to rest any other notable contributors.
- Suspensions: Jozy Altidore (yellow card accumulation)
- Int’l Duty: None
- Injury Report: OUT – F Sebastian Giovinco (quad strain), D Nick Hagglund (torn MCL); QUESTIONABLE – M Jonathan Osorio (cardiovascular illness)
Projected Starting Lineup (3-5-2): Alex Bono – Chris Mavinga, Drew Moor, Eriq Zavaleta – Justin Morrow, Victor Vazquez, Michael Bradley, Marky Delgado, Steven Beitashour – Tosaint Ricketts, Jordan Hamilton
Notes: Toronto is unbeaten in their last seven home games. They’ve won their last four home games … Michael Bradley leads all MLS players (including goalkeepers) with 153 recoveries this season. He’s the only field player with more than 110 recoveries this year.
Columbus Crew SC
Try as they might, Crew SC just can’t quite get it rolling this year. A win against New England on May 6 was followed by a loss at TFC on May 10. That match was followed by a victory at Montreal on May 13, which was then backed up by a loss at the Revs last Sunday. One step forward, one step back.
Still, Columbus have shown flashes this year. Justin Meram has become a fully-fledged MLS star, and Federico Higuain has been – mostly, anyway – back to his old self after a down 2016. Perhaps most importantly in regards to Saturday’s match, Columbus are the only team to have beat Toronto this year. They’ll draw on their 2-1 win over the Reds from April as they prepare to head to Toronto this weekend, with a win giving Crew SC the 2017 Trillium Cup.
“We know that we’re the only team that they’ve lost to,” Crew SC midfielder Hector Jimenez told the club’s website earlier this week. “We’ve got to be ready for a battle. And hopefully we can come out with three points. It won’t be an easy game but if we play to our full potential, I think we can do some damage to them.”
- Suspensions: None
- Int’l Duty: None
- Injury Report: OUT – D Gaston Sauro (left PCL surgery), M Ben Swanson (right ankle surgery); QUESTIONABLE: M Ethan Finlay (left knee contusion), M Artur (left thigh strain)
Projected Starting Lineup (4-2-3-1): Zack Steffen – Hector Jimenez, Nicolai Naess, Jonathan Mensah, Waylon Francis – Wil Trapp, Mohammed Abu – Kekuta Manneh, Federico Higuain, Justin Meram – Ola Kamara
Notes: Dating back to Sept. 28, 2016, Crew SC have lost seven of their last 10 regular season away games (2-7-1). They’ve conceded an average of 2.2 goals per game in those 10 matches … Justin Meram has completed 35 dribbles so far this season – he’s the only MLS player with more than 30 completed dribbles at this point in the year.
Toronto and Columbus have split the first two meetings of the season. Each team earned a 2-1 win, with both games being played in Columbus.
- Overall: Toronto 7 wins (37 goals) … Columbus 13 wins (45 goals) … Ties 10
- At Toronto: Toronto 3 wins (14 goals) … Columbus 4 wins (15 goals) … Ties 6
Referee: Drew Fischer
Assistant Referees: Oscar Mitchell-Carvalho, Craig Lowry
Fourth Official: Chris Penso