Preview: Toronto host resurgent Crew for third home tie in a week

TOR vs. CLB, March 31, 2012

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TORONTO FC vs COLUMBUS CREW
BMO FIELD, Toronto, Ont.
March 31, 2012 (WEEK 4, MLS Game #28)
2 p.m. ET (TSN/RDS; FS-OH)

Toronto FC and the Columbus Crew renew their struggles for the Trillium Cup when the clubs meet Saturday afternoon at BMO Field. TFC have lost twice in two starts in league play this season, last a 3-0 home to San Jose, though they are coming off a midweek draw in the CONCACAF Champions League. The Crew returned from a weekend off for their first win of the season, a 2-0 home triumph against the expansion Montreal Impact.

REFEREE: Geoff Gamble. SAR (bench): Eric Proctor; JAR (opposite): Kevin Duliba; 4th: Silviu Petrescu
MLS Career: 8 games; FC/gm: 22.0; Y/gm: 3.5; R: 2; pens: 7

COMPLETE GAME GUIDE (PDF)

INJURY REPORT: TORONTO FC — OUT: FW Nicholas Lindsay (L knee surgery recovery); DF Dicoy Williams (R knee surgery recovery); DF Jeremy Hall (sports hernia surgery recovery); MF Torsten Frings (R hamstring strain); GK Stefan Frei (L lower leg); QUESTIONABLE: DF Adrian Cann (R knee surgery recovery) … COLUMBUS CREW — OUT: FW Ben Speas (sports hernia rehab); DF Rich Balchan (sports hernia rehab); DF Julius James (R shoulder surgery rehab); FW Tommy Heinemann (L knee internal injury); DOUBTFUL: DF Carlos Mendes (R hamstring strain); QUESTIONABLE: MF Dilly Duka (R hamstring strain)

INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: TOR: Matt Stinson, Doneil Henry (CAN U-23)

SUSPENDED: none

HEAD-TO-HEAD
ALL-TIME (13 meetings): Toronto FC 1 wins, 15 goals … Crew 5 wins, 21 goals … Ties 7

AT TORONTO (6 meetings): Toronto FC 0 wins, 6 goals … Crew 1 win, 7 goals … Ties 5

RETURN MATCHES: 8/11: Columbus Crew vs. Toronto FC, 7:30 p.m.; 10/28: Columbus Crew vs. Toronto FC, 4 p.m. (TSN2/RDS2)

LAST YEAR (MLS):
4/23: TOR 1, CLB 1 (Tchani 41 ñ Renteria 49)

9/10: CLB 2, TOR 4 (Heinemann 67; Mendoza 87 — Soolsma 21; Johnson 42; de Guzman 83; Koevermans 90)

  • It took 13 tries, but Toronto FC finally defeated Columbus in their final meeting last year: a 4-2 win on Sept. 10 at Columbus Crew Stadium. The Crew had won five of the first 12 meetings all-time, with seven draws.
     
  • The Crew’s lone victory in six visits to BMO Field came in their first, a 2-1 win on Sept. 22, 2007. The teams have played to five successive draws in Toronto.
     
  • Coaches record: Aron Winter vs. SJ: P2 W1 L0 D1 … Robert Warzycha vs. TOR: P7 W2 L1 D4

TORONTO FC

Toronto FC went down to a second consecutive defeat to start their 2012 league campaign, losing 3-0 to the San Jose Earthquakes in their BMO Field debut. TFC is tied for eighth place in the Eastern Conference.

LAST MATCH

  • The Earthquakes led after just nine minutes. Sam Cronin hooked in a cross from beyond the corner of the area on the left, and the ball hung up in the wind long enough for Chris Wondolowski to nod home inside Milos Kocic's left-hand post.
     
  • San Jose doubled their lead nine minutes into the second half. Defender Steven Beitashour raced down the right side into open space and laid the ball wide for midfielder Marvin Ch·vez. He made one quick touch across the box to Shea Salinas, who fired a left-footed strike into the left corner.
     
  • Just 12 minutes later, the Quakes were at it again with another flowing movement. Midfielder Rafael Baca drew Kocic out of the net towards him before passing to his left to a wide-open Wondolowski, who dug the ball out of his feet before slotting into the empty net.
     
  • HIGHLIGHTS: TOR v SJ

    TFC head coach Aron Winter made four changes to the team that fell 3-1 to Seattle Sounders FC at CenturyLink Field. Julian de Guzman replaced the injured Torsten Frings in midfield, Ashtone Morgan came into the back four for Logan Emory, and Reggie Lambe and Joao Plata started up top in place of Nick Soolsma and Eric Avila.

TORONTO FC (4-3-3): Milos Kocic - Richard Eckersley, Ty Harden (Aaron Maund 64), Miguel Aceval, Ashtone Morgan - Terry Dunfield (Danny Koevermans 46), Julian de Guzman, Luis Silva - Reggie Lambe, Ryan Johnson, Joao Plata (Nick Soolsma 85).

TEAM NEWS

  • Since qualifying for the CONCACAF Champions League semifinals with a win vs. the LA Galaxy, Toronto FC has dropped both of their league matches.
     
  • “If you watched today how we started, it’s not good. Two games, six goals. You can always lose a game, but the way we began the game, it was not good. It was like we didn’t want to play,” said TFC head coach Aron Winter. “But after that, we got in the game. And then, again, you’re making terrible mistakes to bring the opponent, and make them stronger, then you lose in the moment.”
     
  • With Torsten Frings out for 4-6 weeks with a hamstring strain suffered in the Seattle match, Julian de Guzman was given his place as the holding midfielder in front of the back four.
     
  • “We don’t have to forget that at this moment ... Torsten is not playing and organizing everything on the pitch,” Winter said. “We need someone to organize everything on the pitch and I know for sure to have Torsten in the squad is completely different than without him.”
     
  • TFC suffered another injury blow the day before the match when goalkeeper Stefan Frei suffered a fractured fibula in training and will be out 8-10 weeks.
     
  • “It’s definitely a lot different without Frings and Stefan injured,” de Guzman said. “The most important thing for us is to remain as a team. We have that togetherness, and I think the unity and that counts for a lot at moments like this. If we can hold each other up I think we’re bound to survive these tough moments.”
     
  • TFC have conceded nine goals in four competitive matches this year heading into the week.
     
  • “It felt like we played on an away field, even though we played at home,” goalkeeper Milos Kocic said. “That’s how I felt. I don’t understand why we put ourselves under pressure with no reason. If you have wind against you in the first half, then try to put them under pressure, not us.”
     
  • On Wednesday, Toronto FC and Club Santos Laguna of Mexico played to 1-1 draw in the first leg of their CONCACAF Champions League semifinal at BMO Field. Herculez Gomez of Santos and TFC’s Miguel Aceval matched first-half goals, as Santos survived going a man down for the final quarter-hour.
     
  • TFC team: Milos Kocic - Richard Eckersley, Ty Harden, Miguel Aceval (Aaron Maund 49), Ashtone Morgan - Terry Dunfield, Julian de Guzman, Reggie Lambe - Ryan Johnson, Danny Koevermans, Nick Soolsma (Joao Plata 72)
     
  • “I think that a draw is not a bad result but we deserve more. If you watch the whole game we had opportunities to make two goals and they scored from nothing. At that moment we were not sharp and I think a victory would have been good but a draw is also good," Winter said.

COLUMBUS CREW

The Columbus Crew returned to action after a week off and recorded their first victory of 2012, a 2-0 win against the Montreal Impact at Columbus Crew Stadium. The Crew sit in a three-way tie for fourth place in the Eastern Conference with 3 points from 2 games.

LAST MATCH

  • The complexion of the game turned after just 19 minutes when defender Jeb Brovsky was issued a red card in the 19th minute for an elbow to the back of the head of Mirovan Mirosevic.
     
  • The Crew scored their first goal of the season in the 30th minute when Mirosevic converted a penalty kick. Emilio RenterÌa drew the spot kick when he rushed into the right side of the box before being hauled down by Felipe Martins.
     
  • The home side then doubled the lead in the 66th minute. Olman Vargas, making his first MLS start, snapped a header off a Shaun Francis cross from the left flank.
     
  • WATCH: Vargas nets his first Crew goal

    Crew head coach Robert Warzycha made two changes to the team that opened the season with a 2-0 loss to the Colorado Rapids at Dickís Sporting Goods Park. Bernardo Anor and Olman Vargas came into the team for Tony Tchani and Dilly Duka.

COLUMBUS CREW (4-3-1-2): Andy Gruenebaum - Sebastian Miranda (Josh Williams 75), Danny O'Rourke, Chad Marshall, Shaun Francis -  Kirk Urso - Eddie Gaven, Milovan Mirosevic, Bernardo Anor - Emilio Renteria (Aaron Schoenfeld 69), Olman Vargas (Ethan Finlay 89).

TEAM NEWS

  • Partnered with Emilio Renteria as Crew coach Robert Warzycha went with a twin-striker setup, newcomer Olman Vargas scored his first MLS goal.
  • “That was something,” Crew coach Robert Warzycha. “You can see the elevation of his jump and the way he headed it. [Donovan] Ricketts is a great goalie. He saved a couple before. That was a perfect shot.” Added Crew goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum: “That second goal was incredible That’s what we worked on all week. It was kind of like watching practice. It actually was one of the better goals I’ve seen.”
     
  • Another Crew newcomer, Chilean midfielder Milovan Mirosevic, scored the Crew’s first goal of 2012, converting a penalty kick.
     
  • "In this system, I prefer to play (in central midfield) instead of playing on the line, like Bernardo (Anor). In this system, if we change it, maybe I would like to play a little bit higher, but I felt comfortable today,” Mirosevic said. “I think the team made everyone feel comfortable today. I think our two forwards today did a great job running for every ball. I think maybe that is why Emilio (Renteria) was a little exhausted at the end."
     
  • Vargas was almost not with the team after he was called into the Costa Rican national team for a friendly vs. Jamaica, but visa issues kept him from accepting the call-up.
     
  • “It helps the team a lot,” Mirosevic said. “Everybody felt like he’s playing a lot more relaxed than two weeks ago. For [Vargas] and for us, it’s great he scored.”
     
  • The week off has also allowed the Crew to get healthier. Shaun Francis has started both matches at left back, but could face competition from a healthy Carlos Mendes and newcomer Nemanja Vukovic. Dilly Duka is also returning to full training after missing the Montreal match with a strained hamstring.
     
  • “The two weeks since the Colorado game helped us,” Warzycha said. “We got our feet a little bit. We worked on some things. You saw today. I was happy.”
     
  • Goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum also kept his place ahead of William Hesmer, also now healthy, and kept his first clean sheet.
     
  • "The guys in front of me game-in and game-out are pretty consistent. It's good to know that going into a game. It's my job to make saves. If the defense does break down, thank goodness I was able to make a couple (saves) and keep the team in it,” Gruenebaum said.