Scouting Toronto FC’s Next Opponent: Columbus Crew

What Toronto FC should expect from Columbus Crew heading into the first edition of the Trillium Cup.

After taking 11 points from an eight-game road trip and shutting out one of the best teams in the Western Conference in the home opener, a lot of expectation has been placed on Toronto FC to achieve new heights this season. However, they’ve since cooled off by dropping a 4-3 result to the Vancouver Whitecaps, then drawing level with New York City FC. Meanwhile, the injury bug has hit two of Toronto’s most important players in Jonathan Osorio and Jozy Altidore.

Given that there was a three-day rest in between games and that a lot of youngsters were starting, it was encouraging to see Toronto FC hold the Eastern Conference leaders to a draw. It was a sign that the backline has returned to form, but they will need to be better against the Columbus Crew.

Whenever these two teams meet, it’s always a big occasion. The Trillium Cup was the first ever rivalry Toronto had in the MLS, and it started between the city’s two mayors. While Columbus dominated the rivalry at first, Toronto has gotten more results as they’ve been getting better.

Both sides have had their fair share of memorable moments: Toronto’s best moment was Jermain Defoe’s brace capped off with a Doneil Henry winner, while Columbus’ best moment has to be when a goalkeeper scored an equalizer in stoppage time:

Because if there’s anything that sums up the beginning of the TFC franchise, it’s that.

When the Montreal Impact came into the league, this rivalry took a bit of a backseat, but it was reignited once again last season as Kei Kamara and Sebastian Giovinco battled it out for the Golden Boot.

Even though they are the reigning MLS Cup Finalists, Columbus has taken a huge nosedive this year. Through 10 games, they have 10 points, and have scored less goals than us, if you can believe that.

The lowest point of their season was when they had a 4-1 lead over the Montreal Impact before letting it slip away, and dropping two big points in a 4-4 draw. However, the biggest talking point afterwards was the tension between Kei Kamara and Federico Higuain. At 3-1, the Crew won a penalty, but instead of Kamara (who was on a hattrick) taking it, Higuain did, which led to a massive argument between the two:

Higuain scored the penalty, so the result wouldn’t have changed, but had there been no drama between the two strikers, perhaps the team would’ve kept their composure and seen out the result. It was only days later that Columbus traded away their leading scorer to the New England Revolution.

This is only Columbus’ second game after the Kamara trade. They drew 1-1 to the league leaders Colorado Rapids (seriously, what a time to be alive). Heading into this rivalry match, you know that Columbus will be motivated to right their past wrongs and come out on the winning side.

However, despite our injury problems, the goal has to be a win here. You’re never going to catch Columbus at a better time, and only getting one win out of a four-game homestand is unacceptable. If Toronto really wants to establish themselves as a powerhouse in the Eastern Conference, these are the types of games that must be won.

Also a reminder that this game will be played at 5 p.m. instead of 7. And there’s a pretty good reason for that too:

Seriously, what a classy gesture by the team. Kurtis has been the best beat reporter TFC could’ve asked for, and it’s awesome that they’re making special accommodations to let him cover the game on the same day that he’s getting married. If you’re looking to make it in this field, then you should aspire to be like Kurt.

After the youngsters impressed against New York City, it’s time for them to take the next step and lead the team to victory over Columbus. Come on you Reds!